Being a parent is hard.
January 24, 2012 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Daycare woes: How do I balance the good with the bad? How can I figure out if it's time to leave and try another school?

Sorry, this is going to be long. So I'm having a really hard time with my son's daycare right now, so much so that I'm already starting to cry just writing this. Up until a couple months ago, I loved this place. The teachers were great, my son loved going there, they have a great music program, great outdoor space, etc. We moved him to this school after some continual problems at his old school, and it was the best move I made. However, issues have come up here, but unlike the last time, where it was clear that the problems were major and needed a change and clear my son wasn't happy, that isn't he case now and I'm in some desperate need for some guidance.

In the late summer, the school decided to go to a Sept. only transition schedule, which concerned me at the time because my son would be well past the 2.9 necessary to move into preschool by September, moreover, they were moving all the kids out of his class to preschool that he was actually friends with (most weren't 2.9 in September either, but were closer than my son was). In talking with the director, she assured me the teachers would be the same and that it would go fine, so I accepted it.

Fast forward to Nov. The director approaches me and says that they have a spot open in preschool and that they think Xander is ready to transition and would I still like him to move. I talk it over with my son, who is enthused about the idea and we say yes. November ends up being a crazy month for us and daycare as we miss over half of it due to trips. All in all, he gets about 5 days (because he is also a part time kid for now, only 3 days a week) of transitioning, when they tell me he's having some issues and they'd like to go slower with the move. I say that's fine, but throughout Dec. he barely goes over. Maybe once every two weeks and then for only an hour or two.

I complained about this beginning of Jan. when everyone was back from holidays, I have a meeting with the preschool teachers where they tell me what his issues are, which seem to be: 1) he gets up and wanders around instead of staying focused at the group activities, 2) he isn't as independent in terms of getting dressed or cleaning up after himself as the other kids, 3) he doesn't engage with the other kids much, and 4) they feel the class is really hectic now and are worried about him getting lost. Now these seem like mostly valid concerns except my son is independent with getting dressed, cleaning up, etc at home, I think he just hasn't had to do it at school so he balks at doing it there. As far as the wandering off thing goes, that is also a common occurrence in the toddler room where he is. And as far as the not engaging goes, well my kid isn't socially outgoing. He's not shy, but he takes a long time to warm up to new groups of people and play with them, and even once he does know them he doesn't run up and talk to/play with others too much. He's quite happy when they do it, and he will play with them, but he doesn't insert himself with others. I also noted to the teachers that while it had seemed like he'd had a lot of chance to warm up to them, it was really just those 5 days and then very sporadic visits afterwards, which I didn't feel was enough to overcome these sorts of issues.

They all agree to try again with more consistency, and the next week he goes over first thing each day he's there, stays over for the morning, and goes back in the afternoon after nap time. I also spend time working more on him being independent at home and discussing staying with the group and whatnot with him more. End of the week (which again is only 3 days) the teachers are saying that he's making great improvements, showing more self care skills, staying with the group more, but that he's still not socially engaging. I remind them that that is the part he's going to be slowest at because that's just who he is. The head teacher tells me that they think he needs a little more time, but that in 1-2 months he'd be ready to switch over. I asked if that meant they'd try again in 1-2 months or what, and she said, "No. In 1-2 months he will just be ready to switch over."

I should note that during this entire time (Nov-now) I can see changes in my son, he's becoming more interested in being independently, more talkative about school, just generally happier, etc. But only on days he spends decent amount of time in preschool. When he's just in the toddler room, he doesn't talk about school. He's happy, but not energetically so, and he definitely doesn't talk about things he learned. I think he's just beyond a lot of the kids there, most of whom are younger than he is, have learning disabilities, or have behavioral problems, so he coast through the day playing, but not learning or really being engaged in the "lessons" they teach.

However, then the director contacts us, says he's been throwing fits and refusing to go to preschool and being unconsolable there. None of this was told to me by his teachers, and when I questioned his current toddler teacher she looked at me like I had 3 heads and told me she's never seen him act like that. When I ask him why he says he doesn't want to go to preschool, he says "because I wanted to see what they were doing in [the toddler] room." Basically, he was already doing something and entertained and so he didn't want to stop. I clarified that he liked going to preschool and he insisted that he did.

Unfortunately during this time the school has also unexpectedly instituted an enrollment period where we have to decided NOW whether we are enrolling in September and pay a rather large deposit. Because we were dealing with that fallout, I let the preschool stuff slide for a week.

And then this week, we get an email from the director saying she's decided that my son won't move to preschool after all, but will have to wait until September. And now I'm stuck and upset, and very uncertain what to do.

I'm very leery of staying here and having my son stay in the toddler room for another 8 months, given all the positives I see out of him being in preschool. Moreover, he's been excited and happy about being able to go to preschool (so much that he was sad and almost crying yesterday on the way home because he didn't get to go over yesterday), and I don't know how to explain why he can no longer go there. Also, I'm very upset with how this was handled, how we were strung along and the various apparent lies we were told along the way. That coupled with some of the other administration issues has made me very unhappy with the school and how it is being run.

All that said, my son is happy there. He loves the teachers, he loves having music class everyday, he loves their large outdoor space. He is fine with the kids (he's never taken to the new kids in the room like he did with the kids that moved to preschool). And I don't want to make him unhappy unless there's a real reason. But I can't just wait this out, because of the new policy I have to decide NOW whether he will be there in Sept. or not and I'm just stressed and unhappy and not sure what to do and what the right course is.

(my god that was long, I apologize, thank you anyone who made it through that)
posted by katers890 to Education (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My opinion is that you should go off of how your kid is doing. It seems to me that he's pretty much enjoying it. In that context, I think it could be a mistake to take him out of either of the environments. From your description, it sounds like the preschool would be a better environment, but it doesn't sound like he hates (or even dislikes) the toddler room. If this were me, I'd push fairly firmly to have him put in the preschool now. If it doesn't happen, it sounds like September would be fine, but I'd try to get him in there now.

It sounds to me like the teachers are great. That is what is most important, I think. A member of my family is an awesome preschool teacher (not just my opinion, but the opinion of countless parents who push to have their children put in her class) who has an administrator that drives her crazy and is not very smart/effective. However, the administrator is smart enough to realize that my family member should be left alone. As a result, her classes are awesome. I guess my point is that you shouldn't overly focus on administrators when you're making this decision. Great administrators are great, but I don't think they're necessary for such a self-contained classroom environment.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:15 AM on January 24, 2012

I'm confused about one thing - if the kids he likes are the kids in preschool, why does he need the time to warm up?

Also, are new kids coming into the toddler room all the time? Or is this whole group staying until September? I would be seriously concerned about having my kid be almost 4 in a room full of 20 month old kids, so if that's the case, then I would talk to the director about moving him sooner. If all the kids are staying in one place with just a massive move in September, then I'd be less concerned about this.

I will also say that I'd be concerned about all the back and forth. In both daycares my daughter attends, the "transition" happens for just a week or two (my daughter is also part time) before she got moved. My impression was that it was simply time for her to recognize the room, the teachers, and the kids before switching. It seems like, given your description of the different expectations of the two rooms, he might do better if he were just in the new room all the time. Do you think that would help?

If there is truly no opening (because of space maybe?) in the new room, or the director won't make an exception to the September rule.... I"m not sure what I would do. At that age, I think good care, routine, and happiness are more important than learning stuff, but I wouldn't want my kid to be totally bored by all the littler kids (our kid probably wouldn't be - she likes little kids) (which, actually, is another issue - at some point she's kind of just too old for THEM - she wants to play house or whatever, and they can't quite engage in that play, and sometimes it leads to a struggle).
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2012

Disclosure, I am not a parent. I am a former education major.

I would pull my (nonexistent) child out of a school where he was not being educationally engaged for eight months, and left in a classroom with children well below his comprehension level. Happy or not, the learning your son is or isn’t doing now is going to follow him into adulthood.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:43 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I feel for you! I can relate to you - it's just hard, and of course you want to do the best for your child. I hope talking it out here was at least a little helpful for you in being able to vent about it and parse out what's going on.

Changes are often hard on little kids and that is easy to miss in the big flow of our lives. Transitions can be tricky and it sounds like your son didn't have a lot of time spent on his initial transition into the preschool class, that it was maybe a little unpredictable for him when he was going to the preschool and so on. That's hard on a kid, that lack of consistency. Adults often misjudge what level of expectation they should place on a child (too much or too little) and misjudge a child's need for routine and knowing what's going to happen when and what's expected of them.

When the teachers questioned his readiness of course you wondered if it's the right move. But now he's showing that readiness (of course little kids can also make advances in certain areas practically overnight sometimes, once given exposure to a new expectation - they're just soaking everything up so fast).

I feel like the tantrum part was almost inevitable. It sounds like this transition wasn't handled as a firm routine, and here you are - you don't know quite what to expect and when, so how can he? The years of a little kid figuring out - am I a baby (in the toddler room) or a Big Kid (in the preschool)? - are of course bumpy, because they want to be BOTH so badly, to have things be familiar and comforting, and yet have things be exciting and new with more responsibility and privileges.

Anyway, you are your child's advocate. I feel, given what you've presented here, it's unfair to your son to ease him this far into "being a Big Kid" (going to preschool) and then yank it back from him by keeping him in the toddler room. I, too, question the administration here, and wonder why they wouldn't consider this.

In your position, I would push back hard against the director's decision to not finish his transition to the preschool class. Your son has obviously almost outgrown the toddler room and is primed for the challenges of preschool. It is unfair to him to hold him back after raising his expectations. The school may be more concerned about convenience or what-have-you but that should not be the top priority, especially when dealing with small children. They are not keeping you informed and they're springing things on you - I would be very unhappy about this.

Personally, in this situation, I'd want my child in the preschool ASAP - the transitioning's already been going on for weeks and it's pretty much time to shit or get off the pot, as it were. If they aren't going to finish what they started then I'd be looking for a new preschool. I'm sure the prospect of that stresses you out when you have, until now, liked the daycare so much. But I would be leery of a place that is providing care for small children that isn't taking putting the needs of those small children first, by either expecting too much of them, or not letting them advance as they need to, to grow.

I hope my thoughts are a bit helpful in sorting out what you want to do here!
posted by flex at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he likes the school and you like the school you should keep him there, full stop. It's not entirely clear to me if the decisions about moving to a different room are being made by the teachers or the director, but if you trust that the teachers are having major input into those decisions, I think you have to accept that the decision is what is best for him.

This "transition" thing sounds weird to me, frankly. When my 4 year old daughter was having some difficulties with her teacher and one of the kids in her classroom, we met with the director (whom we loved and who loved our daughter). Once we explained the situation, she stood up, said, "I think she is ready to move up to Pre-K (or whatever the next level was called)." And walked down to the classroom, called for my daughter to come with her and brought her to her new classroom. End of transition. My daughter was thrilled to be away from that teacher and her bully, and things couldn't have gone better from then on. I would ask for a firm date for him to move up to the next class, and respectfully ask that the transition be short and sweet.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: He definitely doesn't hate or even dislike the toddler room, but he's definitely happier/more engaged by the preschool room and that room seems to be more his level. So it's a level of happiness thing, and a fear that in 8 months, he's going to be so bored by that class he will be unhappy.

As far as knowing the kids, 3 of his closest friends (the ones he talked about all the time) moved up to preschool in Sept. They also switched the days part-timers could go so that my son doesn't see one of them at all now (he's m-w, his friend is th-f) but that will change in June-ish when he starts going full time. However, that means he knows 2 of the 20 or so kids in the room, so there's mostly a lot of new faces, causing his reticence to start up again. However, he has started talking about his friend that moved again, and he was visible quite happy when they ran up to him to play with him one morning.

The whole school is on a Sept only move concept now, but it was just instituted this year, so it's been a bit wacky. His class is the older toddler room, but he's one of the older kids there now because the others got moved up and they just transitioned the other older girl out of the room. The rest of the kids are either younger than him, or his age but with issues (either mental, developmental, or social), but he's still under 3 and the youngest aren't that far off, but are noticeably younger. It's not that I think he's really advanced, but he does seem to be ahead of kids his age in both language and independence and in some arenas, social skills (he doesn't grab, push, hit, etc. he takes turns and he does play with out kids once he gets warmed up) and he has hung out with older kids all his life just due to when our friends all had kids, so he's used to older kids and plays better with them.

I do think he'd be fine and happy in the preschool room if they just transitioned him, and that a lot of the problems have come from the switching back and forth and the lack of consistency, but they director kept insisting that she didn't want to push things, even though she was the one who came to me suggesting he transition.

There is supposedly a full time spot there now. But the director is seemingly decided to be adamant about the Sept move, I think partially because of the enrollment issue and the fact that we wanted some amount of resolution to this transition before forking over $500 for Sept.
posted by katers890 at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2012

I'm just stressed and unhappy and not sure what to do and what the right course is.

The main point here is that you've got the important stuff all set -- your son is in a childcare situation that he likes, where you're happy with the teachers, that you can afford, etc. Take a deep breath and remember that the stakes here are very, very low. If your kid seems to want to move to the preschool room, do it -- you can't figure out what is right by thinking and thinking and thinking about it.
posted by escabeche at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2012

Yeah, given your follow-up, I'd make some noise. There's a spot available, they've been messing around with this, and 8 months from now is a long time for a little kid to stay at a lower level if they're just about ready to move up. I think your instincts are good here.

With the administration being inconsistent and unpredictable, and the pressure to enroll now for next year when you're not happy with the current situation, I'm thinking it's time to start looking at options elsewhere.
posted by flex at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looking at your past questions, it looks like your son is 2 and a half now, so will be 3 this summer? At this age, you really don't need to worry about learning in any academic sense. Play is the work of childhood, especially for a 2-year-old. The outdoor time is so much more important than any teaching of letters, numbers, etc. I'm not surprised that he "wanders" during instruction time at his age! I really don't think he should be forced to sit still and listen if that's not where he's at, developmentally. Many 2-and-a-half-year-olds are not yet suited for that, and it's not what a classroom set up for them would include.

It sounds like he's right in between the 2 rooms, in terms of age, and he's also right at the threshold of figuring out how to play with other kids, rather than just playing beside one another. It doesn't sound like mismanagement or laziness on the school's part that they are conflicted about which room he should be in: he's just right on the threshold there between toddler and preschooler.

I would not move my child from a good, happy care situation for an issue like this, but I would talk to the director again about re-evaluating his room assignment in 2 months, given the rate of development in the areas that matter here (desire/ability to sit still and listen, ability to engage with the other children). And again, if he's not quite ready with the preschool skills, then I think the school is right, and he's really better off in the toddler room.
posted by palliser at 11:58 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Put the ball in their court and make them pony up to what YOU require. Since you got caught in the middle of their policy change, you should be exempt from the September rule. Tell them that. Also tell them that for you to give them their $500 deposit, your child needs to be placed in the the school room within the month. tell them this nicely and appologetically, etc., etc. They are providing you a service that you are paying for, not the other way around.
posted by Vaike at 12:00 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree with Vaike. My kid is around the same age as yours, and consistency is the number one thing that makes him comfortable in his surroundings. If I were you I'd tell the director to move him up to preschool 100% of the time, and that's that. No going back to the toddler class. Your son might have a hard time for a little while, but he'll adjust. With all of the changing, he's just going to get more confused and more frustrated because he never knows what to expect.

I'd give the preschool director the benefit of the doubt, because that's a hard job and I'm sure she's doing her best. But you're the parent, you're the one who decides what's right for your child, and this is a unique situation given that the school is making a change, so they should work with you on this.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Disclaimer: I don't have kids. But I have been the kid, in a similar situation, long long ago.

The two pieces of advice I can give, from some position of personal knowledge:

1. Just because a person is a teacher or a doctor or similar professional, that does not mean that they know your child better than you do. Do not ever make the mistake of submitting to "professional" advice you disagree with unless you have gotten second and third opinions and researched the matter yourself.

2. The process of social ostracization begins very, very young - much earlier than most people think - and has a tendency to self-perpetuate and continue for a long, long time. Your child should not be separated from his peer group unless absolutely necessary. Yes, even this young, it can matter A LOT.

If I were in your shoes (and as I said, I am not a parent, so take this for what you feel it's worth) I would state - clearly and in writing - that you want your child placed with his peer group, and why, and formally request a written list of their reasons for not doing so. This way, you'll either have something you can dispute point-by-point, or they'll back down for fear of repercussions. Of course, this will also establish you as "someone not to be messed with" and/or "the troublemaker", and you have to decide if you want to deal with those side effects - although, I would imagine that where your child is concerned, it's far better to be "the troublemaker" than "the pushover".

And if the school continued to be unresponsive, then I would transfer my child - yes, even though he's happy - because if the school's administration is going to not give a damn about a parent's requests regarding their child's welfare without a compelling and documentable reason for doing so, that would not be a school I'd want my child going to, ever.

Just my two cents, take it for whatever you feel it's worth.
posted by mie at 12:19 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the school is doing a great job and that you may be the problem. He was progressing and they had a spot for him in the pre-school class. You didn't bring him to school for awhile, getting him off his routine, and then he wasn't doing as great as before so they put him back with the toddlers.

You then got upset with the school and to pacify you they started the ridiculous business of moving him back and forth. That's right. You made them so crazy that they did something that is not good for your kid. Children need consistency. He will not do well going back and forth, but, what choice did you give them, really?

My advice to you is to let these nice people do their job and relax a little bit. Once your emotions settle down then your child's will also. Talk to the daycare (or have your husband do it, if you cannot control your emotions) and let them know that you will support them in whatever decision they make as far as what class your child should be in. And then do it.

I am a mother of 3 children (all very smart) and I taught daycare for over a decade.
posted by myselfasme at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Disclosure, I am not a parent. I am a former education major.

I would pull my (nonexistent) child out of a school where he was not being educationally engaged for eight months, and left in a classroom with children well below his comprehension level. Happy or not, the learning your son is or isn’t doing now is going to follow him into adulthood.

Seriously, roomthreeseventeen? Eight months of toddler play time versus some kind of pre-school time is going to follow him to adulthood? From age 2.5? With all due respect to your educational background, I really have a hard time seeing that happening.

I kind of lean toward: don't panic. Don't move your kid. Push back on the September thing to allow for more "transition" time. Suggest that you'd like your kid in the pre-school class and see what they say. Ask specifically if they have room for him there. If they don't, that's your answer.

Keep track, also, of who is providing exactly what feedback. I've had a few random WTF? moments that seem to be directly related to specific carers. Some people have their own personal bugaboos and some people like to express "concern" in order to feel like they are participating in the parenting process or who knows why? If it's always one particular person who has the concern but no one else does, it's important to ask the directors why you are getting that kind of feedback from a certain person.

Best of luck, I know how stressful this stuff is!
posted by amanda at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Myselfasme, that is completely not what happened and I'm kinda insulted by your tone. November was hectic yes, but not overly so, he missed between 5-6 days of school, that's it. And I didn't just not bring him to school. We had a family trip to DC that we went on where he had a blast and got a lot of enrichment, and then later we went to visit my parents, his grandparents for Thanksgiving, something that is completely within the realm of expected concepts of a family and school. He didn't start having a bad time (if he ever even did, which I am unsure of) after this, I was just told that he was having some trouble then. The director requested because of the trouble to back off a bit and to have him go over a little more casually, mostly during play times there, to see if that helped him. I was suspicious of this, because I know he takes a bit to warm up and less time there would give him less time to warm up, but since I didn't really see a need to rush him to preschool and they still seemed genuine in their desire to transition him, I agreed to a supposed slower schedule. After 3 weeks of this supposed schedule and me checking with his teachers about whether or not he had spent any time at all in preschool (which was their plan, not mine), I kept being told that no, it had been too hectic, or they had too many kids, or just simply, "not today". However, all this time, I had been told he would be going over, so I had been discussing things with him, we talked about how to behave, talked about the kids and activities there, so he could stay engaged in this. However, since they weren't sending him over at all, this was getting very confusing for him and for me and he was getting upset about not being allowed to go, especially since this whole time they were also sending over another kid from his class, but not him.

So I got upset. I think it is fair to get upset when I was told that something was happening that wasn't, especially something that was impacting my kid. I requested a meeting with the preschool teachers, something I had actually done in Nov. when they started the transition, so that I could learn what the issues were and figure out what he needed to be doing so I could help and work on it at home. After a discussion with all of the teachers, with 2 of them being very for the idea of getting him over there (the third, an assistant teacher was not as enthused, but wasn't completely against the idea), and with them discussing it with the director (again, whose idea this whole thing was), they decided that they should actually go back to a more structured visiting time and see how that worked out. At the end of 1 week (3 days) the head teacher said he needed 1-2 months and then he'd be ready to move over, not try again, move over. I said that sounded fine and it was only now just a little over a week later that I was told, nope not until Sept. which was in complete contrast to what I had been previously told.

I in no way forced them to do some ridiculous moving back and forth or anything else crazy. I took into account their points of view the entire time. I even accepted the recommendation to wait 1-2 months. However, after each point of telling me what they were going to do, they either didn't follow through or drastically changed their minds. And importantly all of them (the two head teachers and the director) stated to me that they thought he was ready to transition, and they were the ones who set the manner of transition not me.

I am offended by your statement that I forced things and I acted crazy and that I'm overly emotional about this. Throughout all of this, with the teachers and especially with my son I have been calm. I have kept my stress and frustration away from them and shared it only with friends and family when my son wasn't around to see it.
posted by katers890 at 1:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: For everyone else: Thanks for your input, you guys are doing a great job of echoing the dichotomy I'm facing in my own head, which while not necessarily solving my problem, is making me feel less crazy about it at least. I wish I could just wait and see how this goes, and talk them into giving it another try later, but they are forcing me to make a decision and a significant financial commitment to that decision by Feb. 6th. I wouldn't mind him staying in the toddler room for a little while longer, 8 months is just a really long time in toddler development, and I have a very weak faith in anything they say now.

I will keep thinking over what you've all said and welcome any more responses!
posted by katers890 at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2012

Eight months of toddler play time versus some kind of pre-school time is going to follow him to adulthood? From age 2.5? With all due respect to your educational background, I really have a hard time seeing that happening.

Eight months is about a third of this kid's life. I'm not saying the kid should be in first grade, but he should have age appropriate activities. It sounds like that isn't happening.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2012

I have a 2.5 year old, and a 4.5 year old, who are in a daycare/preschool together. The 2.5 year old is in the toddler room right now, and the 4.5 year old is in the preschool room. I'm just telling you that as context for my answer :)

Based purely on what you have written here, these things are on my mind. Firstly, that it sounds like your son is ready for the preschool room, and he should be there full time. This dragged out transition is not helping, its just making it harder for him, because he never knows where he is going to be. Forget the director, talk to the preschool teacher, what does she think? I think you should be pushing for him to be there full time, right now, and get this transition shenanigans over with, so he can actually transition and learn to cope with the preschool. Talk with the preschool teacher about what you perceive to be your sons strong and weak points (what you said to the director about him being slower on the social stuff) and see if she agrees and thinks she can cope. Ask her directly about these behavioral problems the director mentions, and see if you get a different story. I feel like there is a game of telephone happening here!

My only reservation is that as young rope-rider mentions, his behavior sounds totally normally for a 3 year old, and that is what the preschool room is supposed to be for. I am concerned that they expect him not to move around and get distracted in the preschool room, its their job to help him with this. So either he's so completely unable to cope that he's sucking up all the teacher's time, or the teacher/director doesn't want to do their job of helping him. I have no way of telling, so you need to try and finagle this information out of the preschool teacher, since she is the one who will be teaching him, not the director.

If he really is sucking up all the teacher's time and not coping, then the question is whether that's because he's not ready, or because he hasn't been given a fair shot at transitioning and learning how to behave in there (to a manageable/normal level of distraction for a 3 year old).

Needless to say, if the director refuses to transition him to the preschool, or you feel the preschool teacher has unrealistic expectations of preschooler behavior, THEN you should look for a new daycare.
posted by Joh at 3:30 PM on January 24, 2012

I'm a toddler teacher and I think it's really weird for them to start the transition and then not follow through on it. That being said, it's not uncommon in my center for kids to take a month or so to transition into a new room, depending on how many days a week they are there and how comfortable they are with change. Tantrums are pretty common during any sort of transition, especially if he was not given enough time to finish up what he was playing with before he was expected to move to the preschool (I can't tell if that was what happened here or not - I'm just offering it up as a possibility).

I can't know this for sure, but given what you've said about the reactions from the various teachers this sounds like a director issue. I would push back. You are paying them, they are providing a service for you, and it's really not cool of them to just not have had time for him to visit the preschool so that his transition could go smoothly. Childcare can be very, very hectic, especially in the toddler room, but that's not an acceptable excuse, and this part IS a teacher issue.

I know you say your son is happy at this place, but it doesn't sound like you are happy with the way this has been handled, and that's important, too. If you can't get the director to change her mind, and agree to firmly commit to a transition schedule (i.e. when exactly during each day will he be in the preschool, and a firm date for his permanent transition), then I would seriously consider leaving. You don't feel like he is getting what he needs in the toddler room, and if they won't move him into the spot they promised you in the preschool, well, that seems like reason enough to me. Kids are resilient. Even if he has friends at the preschool (and it sounds like he only has a few), he will make new friends at a new preschool. In fact, this is the perfect time to switch centers if you need to because he's already going to be moving rooms and is not yet bonded to his new teachers - he might as well bond to a new set, if it comes to that.

Good luck! This is a tricky situation, but it really doesn't sound to me like they are doing right by you. You should be able to feel confident in the people you leave your child with, period, and it's the school's job to make sure that happens.
posted by rosethorn at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ok, going against the grain here, but I'd advise trying your best not to over think this. He's 2. He doesnt NEED education in any structured sense-he needs happy and play and some structure but not too much. Most kids aren't in a structured preschool setting til 3 or later and most are hapoy as clams So, does the school meet a 2 year olds needs? Is he happy and do you feel like he's well cared for and safe? If not, move him. If he IS, then make sure you're not making decisions about what he needs based on what you want for yourself-and I don't mean this harshly, just in the sense that your frustration about their level of chaos may be really significant to you-and meaningless in terms of your aon's experience.

I have three kids, youngest is two. My 5 year old was beautifully prepared for kindergarten by her very casual, farm based, family daycare, with about 5 kids ranging from infancy to school aged. no structured curriculum, just lots of play and social time.

(as an aside, I would err on the side of moving slowly rather than quickly when it comes to moving little boys in particular into classes of older kids. That social interaction piece is huge, and it is very normal for boys to lag a bit behind-this can make for some hard times later if they are pushed too fast).
posted by purenitrous at 7:34 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm kinda stuck on the $500 deposit, deadline NOW, to start class in September. Yuck.

Agreed that it's stinky to raise his expectations (and anxiety) about a room move, then pull the rug out. Also yuck.

My 2 questions:

1) Does the teacher in his current room have the ability/freedom to up the ante a bit for him? Can activities be made more complex or added to so that he's more engaged?

2) Would the director do a compromise on the September thing, and agree to move him in late spring (say, May)? Our day care center does a huge summer program, lots of activities and new faces, so it tends to be another time when it makes sense to graduate kids to the next level.

If either of the two things above were an absolute NO, I guess I'd start looking for somewhere a bit more flexible. If the $500 deposit wasn't hanging over your head, though, I'd say ride it out a bit longer, let him play, and see where things go.
posted by hms71 at 9:18 PM on January 24, 2012

I am offended by your statement that I forced things and I acted crazy and that I'm overly emotional about this.

I'm not the commenter you were referring to, but I think what she may have been picking up on is a sense that you may be a little bit personally invested in what seems like your son's "advancement." The thing from your question that stuck out a bit to me was that when you heard that he wandered around during instruction, instead of just figuring that he's not quite ready for "sit still and listen time" (VERY common for 2-and-a-half-year-old boys!) you worked with him at home on sitting still and listening more. I mean, it's not a crime or anything! but why try to push him from one developmental stage to another, when he's at a very normal place? (If he were 6, it would be different!)

I'm certain that you've been totally calm with your son and with the school, but you may be inadvertently coaching him a bit to feel like he should be moved: "I had been discussing things with him, we talked about how to behave, talked about the kids and activities there, so he could stay engaged in this." I know that could go either way, but little kids get some weird ideas: he may even feel that on days when he doesn't go to the preschool room, it's because he hasn't been behaving well enough, since you've talked a lot about how his behavior needs to be in order to go to the preschool room.

I dunno, I kind of agree that at this point, you might just want to let it all go a bit, stop trying to move him toward behaviors that will make him ready for the preschool room, and see if maybe he's perfectly happy in the toddler room as long as he's not hearing from you about how much better it would be to be in the preschool room.
posted by palliser at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Should we bring a lawyer to my wife's visa...   |   Red & black quinoa in Toronto Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.