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Advice please on leaving a 3yo screaming at preschool - your views on school's approach?

(30 Posts)
OhGood Sat 11-May-13 18:35:52

DD is on her 4th day at preschool, 2 mornings a week. She also goes to a childminder, where she is very happy and secure.

Her first few drop-offs at preschool were fine. Yesterday I had to leave her screaming hysterically and fighting to get to me. <arrow to heart> They phoned to say she had settled OK after about half an hour. For the next few days, she was very clingy and unwilling to let me leave her - which she hasn't done since she was very much younger.

Their policy is very much 'Drop her and go'. Hey key worker takes her from me and holds her down cuddles her while I leave.

I know this is just one bad drop-off, and she's got a while to go before she settles.

In an ideal world, I would have stayed with her as long as it takes to get her settled, every time I dropped her off. (I know what works for her.) I thought I would try the school's way - it's soooo hard to know what to do.

I would like your views on the school's approach. They say this is all part of learning detachment and children never learn it's safe to detach otherwise. Is 'leave them even if they're screaming' a common approach? Any advice? Thank you.

MoreSnowPlease Sat 11-May-13 18:43:35

I would imagine that based on attachment theory, children learn its safe to dettach when they are ready and as long as you make them feel safe and secure first. Ie, stay with her until she feels happy and calm would be my approach. Why do you need to leave earlier, is it possible for you to arrive earlier and stay with her until she's calm or are you just trying the schools approach? I would trust your instincts, you know your daughter better than the nursery staff!

brainonastick Sat 11-May-13 18:46:43

Dd1 went to one pre-school from age 3-4 (2 mornings pw), and another from 4-5 (3 mornings pw). Also with a cm who she's been with since a baby and no problems at all.

The first pre-school had a similar approach, and we had exactly the same problem. Two of the assistants physically hauled her in the door screaming, whilst I left feeling terrible. It gradually improved, but she was only ever 'ok' there, often bored, never particularly enthusiastic. But the drop-offs were fine after a painful couple of weeks.

The second pre-school had a 'stay as long as you want, until you/they are happy, how ever long it takes' approach. Clearly dd was a year older, but we had no problems settling her in or leaving her, and she had the best year there. The staff were so kind and dedicated, it was a fabulous setting.

Obviously your pre-schools and alternatives will be different, but if you have any other concerns about the setting, and have a better option I would take it. Otherwise, you may find the problem dies down in a short while.

If you don't want to leave your child screaming though, then don't. Ask to try it your way for a week, for example. How flexible they are might tell you a lot...

Sorry for the mammoth post, I remember how debating it was leaving her crying, and if I had my time again I would have more confidence in my own parenting.

brainonastick Sat 11-May-13 18:47:31

Debating?? devastating! Blooming iPhone

brainonastick Sat 11-May-13 18:48:53

Pps dd1 is very old for her year, in case you think the ages I mention are wierd!

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 18:50:49

I disagree with their approach, I think it will just cause greater separation issues potentially.

I wouldn't be happy to do it that way.

kelda Sat 11-May-13 18:51:43

My children's school has the same approach. Although they don't phone. I've found it's worked fine for all of my children, and they've settled in quickly.

How is she when you pick her up?

OhGood Sat 11-May-13 18:57:48

When I pick her up, she's fine, if pretty decided in her view that 'We don't need to go back'. They say she is sitting on the sidelines during the day and staying close to her key worker. I'm keeping in mind that this is only day 4 and she's in a pretty overwhelming new situation, etc.

Also, she's never been a fan of big groups of kids, so this sort of move was always going to be a challenge for her. And there are 22 children in her class.

Kelda were any of your DCs v upset on leaving?

brain you're right, there are other options and I must keep that in mind. Smaller class sixe would def be better for her.

We have number 2 on the way in a 2 months and I am v worried about having a perfect storm of new baby and upset at school for DD.

Again, I'm bearing in mind this is early days.

hazeyjane Sat 11-May-13 18:58:28

It should depend on the child rather than the school, imo.

Dd1 was very clingy, and staying just seemed to make it worse. I would give her a kiss, and say I'll be back to pick you up later, then physically hand her over to her keyworker. I would call 10 minutes after I left, and she had always have calmed down and be playing happily.

Ds (2.10) on the other hand has never managed to stay with anyone, and preschool (he started 2 weeks ago) have agreed I can stay for the whole session for as long as it takes (he has sn, so this could be a long time!) The flexibility they showed about children with separation anxiety was one of the reasons we chose them.

I think if your dd settles quickly after you leave (even if she is upset when you go) then that approach is probably the best. But if it takes ages and she just gets more upset then maybe stay for a bit. I think it is more to do with personality rather than, one method fits all.

Theironfistofarkus Sat 11-May-13 18:58:45

Mine has same approach. I don't enjoy leaving them crying but I know they stop v quickly once I have gone so I think it's fine.

I know the staff well and trust them.

If I waited till my lo stopped them I imagine I would be there a long time!

kelda Sat 11-May-13 19:04:38

OhGood - yes, there were a few days when they cried when I left, although the teachers assured me they were fine fairly quickly after I left.

What bothered me more was ds who was didn't cry too much going into school, but often cried waiting for me to pick him him. That was more worrying, although thankfully he has settled in a lot better now.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 19:07:21

If she is saying 'we don't have to go back' she is saying she doesn't like it? If she is saying she doesn't like it, I would think carefully about why you want her to go there. Maybe she isn't ready for big groups? Maybe try another option and see if that works better.

OhGood Sat 11-May-13 19:07:58

Sorry, off to do bathtime, but might bump this again later if OK.

OhGood Sat 11-May-13 19:09:36

Swishy she's only had 4 goes, though - I don't think that's long enough to know if she likes it or not, do you? She's not traumatised - other than that one hysterical go-round of screaming. I do take your point though. And I know small groups wouold be better for her.

OhGood Sat 11-May-13 19:10:48

But PS this school is supposed to ne outstanding, and we're in a small village so she knows the children there and will go up to big school with them - so definite pros.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 19:14:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 19:15:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shiraztastic Sat 11-May-13 19:19:17

It's not uncommon. However, I disagree massively with it unless totally unavoidable (eg parent must get to work). When put in that position myself I simply refused to leave and the escalated the issue to year head and then head teacher. Eventually when they realised they had no choice they agreed to do it my way, ie v v slowly. It worked smile, but required enormous patience on my part. However, I have known dd her whole life and knew we would be storing up a LOT more trouble if we tried to force her before she was ready. There is stuff in the early years foundation stage about working in partnership with parents and about how children need to form a strong relationship with a key adult to feel secure. That's not something that can happen in 5 mins is it?

Good luck.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 19:58:44

Pah, outstanding for ofsted doesn't really mean that much here as I doubt this scenario would be played out this way in front of an inspector!

I know four days doesn't seem much, I guess I would write them off because I think their approach is wrong. Sometimes I think kids know, sometimes they don't, it is a tough call.

Do you agree with their approach? Really, if you are not happy, that is fine. If you are happy, that is fine. Your gut knows the answer probably anyway!

Could you just leave it til after the summer, another four months might change everything.

brainonastick Sat 11-May-13 20:03:31

Well, it sounds like it might be worth trying a bit longer, as you say it's early days and a good potential transition to school if it works (but I wouldn't worry about that too much - friendships are quite flexible at this age).

But I would definitely talk to them about you staying to settle longer - if they aren't amenable then I think you've got your answer as to how child-led they are.

You know your own child and whether a short-sharp-shock would be better/more successful than a gradual approach for your child. The pre-school staff don't know her yet, so how can they possibly say?

DeWe Sat 11-May-13 20:31:13

When dd1 started at preschool they were happy for you to stay as long as it took to settle them in. So for the first half term she got progressively worse at being left. At the end of the half term, dd2 was due, and I realised that I would have to try just leaving her as I didn't know how I was going to be after dd2 arrived.
So I left her. Heart rendering, it was. She stopped crying very quickly, and after that skipped in happily. We worked out an arrangement that I took her in to sit on the mat, and she would give me a kiss and I went.

I thought leaving her crying would mean she hated preschool-actually the opposite was true, once I'd done that once she loved going and would ask to go on days she didn't have to.

In retrospect I think I would have been better saying to her "sorry, but I have to go, mummies aren't allowed in preschool". Because it was an option, I think she almost felt she had to cling to me. And because she felt the option of me staying if she cried was there, she used it.

I do also have a memory of being in hospital at age 3yo. Every time dm got up to go one night I screamed the place down (parents couldn't stay back then). I knew full well she had to go, and was determined she would stay as long as I could make her, and make her feel bad about going blush I remember the feeling of relief when she left, that I could now settle down and go to sleep which was what I really wanted to do.

Cravingdairy Sat 11-May-13 20:41:33

Mine is younger and at private nursery but I drop and go. I drop her off then put the buggy away and on the days when she is upset I can hear her crying. For about thirty seconds and then she calms down and on the way out I peek at her and see her joining in. Might you be able to drop off and then lurk somewhere to observe - it might put your mind at rest. I think there is a lot to be said for a quick goodbye.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 21:06:53

Dewe, that is an exceedingly detailed and emotionally complex incident and memory for a three year old, I admit I am sceptical.

sparkleshine Sun 12-May-13 07:57:24

I started my 3.5 year old in pre-school in January for 1 day a week. The reason was that it attaches to the school I want him to go to and to introduce him to more learning environments.
When we first went to look around he just went off and played with no problems and we had a settling in day where he played fine. The first day I left him he screamed and cried and begged me to stay which I did for 10 mins and I left him crying. This happened every week until end of term. He still gets upset now and in some ways I feel guilty for leaving him like that but I know he enjoys himself and plays happily 5 mins after I've gone. He never complains or tells me he doesn't like it and he's fine when I pick him up.
He's been going to nursery 2 days a week since 9 months and enjoys it and a couple of children he knows go to that preschool.

sparkleshine Sun 12-May-13 08:03:17

Oops posted before I meant to. I think if you knew she actually enjoys herself and plays when you have gone then leave it be. I just hand my DS over to the staff if he's crying and they take him as he is. That's how they seem to do it but that's probably because I just say to take him. They were very good at the start about letting me stay longer.
It's still early days yet as well. Give it time.

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