Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tips for the Wary Pre-Schooler


Today we visited Silas's pre-school, the same one he attended last year. For reasons I cannot explain, he still refers to this as "New School" ("Old School" being the daycare he attended once a week 2 years ago because I was losing my mind and had no other willing takers.) (In a confusing twist, he attended "Old School" one or two mornings a week this summer. (See: "losing my mind".))

But back to New School.

He loves it. He loves his teachers and his friends. He's over the moon excited that they "made it look new" (i.e. they cleaned it and maybe painted the walls?). He chose a cubby today then spent the afternoon at home making pictures and other treasures for his teachers because he can. not. wait. to head back to New School.

But here's the thing: I can almost guarantee that his bravery will fade like the setting sun once next week rolls around and it's time to march on in.

My boys. Their separation anxiety is legendary. Calvin famously cried so hard on his second day of pre-school that he barfed on the steps and had to be pried of of me limb-by-limb. Silas was only marginally better.

(Ruby ran in and never looked back.) :)

Suffice it to say, I've discovered a few tips and tricks beyond the usual praying and wishing and fretting and stewing and deciding to scrap it all and take the precious little baby home with me because I love the feeling of him wanting me that much.

* Read The Kissing Hand. Read it an excessive number of times leading up to the big day and then do the kissing hand before you send them. My big kids still love this. It's not a daily thing, but every now and then one of them will ask me to do it and they all line up. It's such a sweet little ritual. I usually end up asking them to kiss my hand, too.

* Send them with a wearable token of bravery. For Calvin it was a regular ol' safety pin and sometimes it was his Daddy's Rotary pin. We called it his Brave pin. It made him braver, and I don't think it was just placebo affect.

* Give them something of yours before you leave. This was discovered on-the-fly, as is the case with most moments of genius. The key is, do not give it to them too early. Wait until you're just getting ready to jet, and then hand it - almost anything - over. Ask your child to keep it for you until you come back. The first time it was one of my mittens, which was perfect because it was soft and comforting, it reminded him of Mommy, and he could wear it if he wanted to. We did this often for Silas in the early days and it worked wonders. After a while he would just shove it in his pocket, but he loved knowing it was there and he loved having a tangible reminder that I was coming back for my mitten.

* Send them with your scent. This is a newish trick but one of our favorites. Put a teeny, tiny bit of your fragrance on them before they go. Scent is a powerful connector and tremendously comforting. (If you don't believe me, go dig up an old bottle of Drakkar and tell me it doesn't take you straight back to Winter Formal, circa 10th grade.) Right now I'm completely obsessed with Maddie and Sophie's  Essence.  It's a very light scent and even better, it comes in a tiny bottle with a roll-on applicator. One little dot on their wrist is all they need and they can sniff it whenever they need to. My big kids still love this trick, too, but don't tell them I said so. ps - I have had that bottle for over 4 months and have used it almost daily. See how much I still have left? Score!

Last but not least:


*Send their Lovey! Silas has taken Charles in for show-and-tell approximately 86 times, but there are also days when he feels uneasy and asks to take Charles in his back-pack. Understandably, this might be frowned upon in some situations and it requires the cooperation of the child to leave Lovey in the back-pack. But I have to believe it helps knowing Charles is in there, along for the ride.

As the saying goes, "Happy Silas, happy Mommy and Dad and entire family and whole, wide world, really."

Got any good tricks that I'm missing?

Lay it on us, man.


50 comments:

  1. I really needed to read this! My babies start preschool September 4th. They've been by my side for the last 4 1/2 years. It will be quite an adjustment for us all!

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  2. This made me cry gobbing ugly tears because I want a freaking little kid to take to pre school. My big kids basically care.less. Last year on the first day of school I couldn't get anyone to look at me at all.

    I like your scent idea. You are a great Mommy.

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  3. I have somehow lucked out and never had a child who struggled to part with me! Mr. Silas is soon to be 5, am I right? One of the photos above revealed a toddler turning into a little boy - growing up so quickly. So excited to see how God continues to unravel the mysteries in all his unique characters :)

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  4. I teach Kindergarten- we had our first day yesterday! I love all these ideas so much. We always read The Kissing Hand on the first day and do lots of corresponding activities!

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  5. when my kiddos were in preschool everyone in class decorated an orange juice carton with pics of their family. when they missed them during the day they could go get their box and look at the pics and it seemed to help them get through the day.

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  6. I wish I'd had a couple of these suggestions 2 weeks ago when my 4 year old started preschool. It has been brutal, but she's starting to get in the groove. Still, I'm pinning in case of relapse! Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. It's always those first couple weeks that are the hardest. My boys both did great the very first day and I thought I had worried for nothing...then day 2 came. :/

      Hoping your little one has a great year!

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  7. I was a preschool teacher for many, many years... and you have some awesome tips!!! Out of the hundreds of kiddos I taught, I think I only had two little ones that truly weren't quite ready and their smart Mama's decided to keep them home once week 2 started. Most of the time, it takes little boys a bit longer to warm up than it does for girls.

    Praying Silas does great and looks forward to school each and every day! Blessings!

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    Replies
    1. Agreed! As much as I have wanted to whisk them away and keep them home forever, school was just what they needed to start gaining a little independence. I think back on how anxious Calvin was. He's night-and-day now!

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  8. My oldest had the hardest time at (our old) church when he was three transitioning to class from nursery - especially Wed. nights. It was heartbreaking. Heart.Breaking. I wish I would have done some of these things.
    Preschool went much better the following fall, but he was extremely shy till about November. Today I dropped him for for his first day of preK. He went right in and started playing at a center like he owned the place. I asked if he wanted to say good-bye. He looked up at me mid-building-with-Legos and said, "No." and resumed playing. Almost as heartbreaking as the 3 year old church night tears.

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  9. Those eyes? And eyelashes? What the heck, Farmgirl?
    That is one handsome boy.
    What's the plan for your free time? Wanna come have coffee on the dock?

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    Replies
    1. Uh...is the sky blue? Is the salsa spicy? Is Tim Riggins hot?
      The answer is yes. I'm coming over.

      Delete
  10. I'm a big fan of the send them with your scent suggestion. In fact, we started this with each of our kids the day we met them. We all used the same lotion, so we'd smell the same.

    I also slept with their lovies/clothes before I sent them in their care packages, so they'd have my scent. I think by the time the packages reached them though, they just smelled like post office.

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    Replies
    1. Haha!

      Silas sleeps almost every night in one of my t-shirts. :)

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  11. I could not love more the face of Silas in the group picture.

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  12. A yummy treat in the fridge for people who go to school w/ out crying. A photograph! A sticker chart!! Why do sticker charts always work?? I bet ya a quarter he will be just fine!

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing these tips! My 3 year old, Katie, starts MDO next week. She wishes that we were conjoined twins! So she gets some anxiety when we are apart. One of the tips I can share is that last year I prayed this verse over her, For God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love and self discipline. It's in 2 Timothy. It was a miracle how that changed her! I will be doing it again next week along with your great list! Thanks!

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  14. Awww these are good tips. My first grader loves school but is not such a fan of being a away from home :( it is so sad. I think I will try some of these!

    Cute photos!

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  15. You and Cory are doing an amazing job with Silas. It is great to see him growing into knowing how much he is loved and a rock solid part of our family.

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  16. I don't have any preschoolers anymore or even kids that "go" to school {homeschoolers}, but I really enjoyed tgis! What a sweet post....you're such a sweer & thoughtful momma!! I think I'll share this on our MOPS fb page :)

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  17. These are great ideas - glad you have found some that worked! When my daughter was little, we did Daycare for 6 months and she cried nearly every day. Someone finally suggested a photo album. We made a small photo album (size of a 4x6 photo) with about 10 pictures in it of all of her family. It worked wonders! She carried it for about a week and then was happy to keep it in her cubby. Her teachers added a picture of her classmates which was very sweet. We still have the photo album and a couple time she's asked to take it to school in her backpack as she's been older (4th grade now). Hope this year is a smooth transition!

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  18. His face is priceless in group photo. I laughed and snorted out loud! These are precious ideas, and will share as every kid-loving Mommy would do so well to use these ideas!

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    Replies
    1. Doesn't he look thrilled to be there? haha
      Thanks for sharing, friend!

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  19. Ohh, these are GREAT tips! Wish I had them back in February when my sweet girl started playschool. It was a ROUGH 8 weeks but now she is a happy camper. I am keeping these tips for future first school days, future kiddos and general purpose. Do you think it would be weird if I took a lovey to work with me...;)
    P.S. Hope Silas rocks his first day of "new school" next week. :)

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  20. There's a book (and maybe a video?) called "Mommy always comes back" which a friend of mine swears by when her little boys started school. My girl is way independent and I can barely get a good bye kiss over her shoulder as she takes off away from me at her daycare, but on the rare days she needs a little more transition it helps to talk through her day, both the time without me and when I'll be back and what we'll do after I collect her.

    I love the ideas of giving them a little scent and something of yours to keep while you are gone. I'm going to share this post on my FB page!

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  21. I didn't read all the comments but the greatest advice I was given and do to this day with my 2.5 year old is always have a good bye. Never sneak away, never disappear. This is so discomfiting for a child and can lead to anxiety at every leave-taking. He has never clung to me and runs to play without looking back. Every single time I leave him (even to run to the car for something or take the dog out for a few minutes) I always always ALWAYS say, "Mommy will be right back!" I always follow through and never lie (as in, "I'll be right back" and return 4 hours later, to me, that's a lie to a child, and could cause worry and confusion). I speak to him like I would to anyone, and make myself accountable. I have noticed this trait develop in my husband but it wasn't always there and I always had to answer the question, "where daddy go?" Interesting eh? Kids really catch on even at two. This has appeared in other traits in my son and he is developing an unbelievable thoughtfulness and accountability (for a two year old). If you play with him, he makes sure you have a toy/marker/blocks too. If you take a bite off his plate he gets really upset... and rightly so! We don't let him eat from our plates, so why should we eat from his? If you ask him, he has the choice to say yes or no. And he appreciates that, in my view. Respectful and accountability at 2? He amazes me. It will develop into confidence as a young adult I think, and this is the greatest gift.

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  22. I just dropped my baby off at kindergarten this morning... we (her, me, her dad, and grandma, grandpa and grammy) all have matching temporary tattoos so we would all be able to look at them and remember that everyone else was looking at theirs too and thinking of each other. She and I, on a total whim this morning, touched tattoos together, so now they're connected and when I think of her, my thoughts shoot out of my arm, out of my work, across town and through her school and into HER arm.... and vice versa. :-) I really like the perfume idea, too... trying that for tomorrow.

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  23. I'm chuckling because our two year old requests "new bib" before every meal. "New bib" is several months old now and looking rather crusty, but still apparently new to him :)

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  24. i can't get over his face in that first picture.
    you've got your hands full in all the best ways.
    he's adorable and full of life..it's written all over his face.
    i have a sneaky suspicion that he says really, really, really funny things at maybe the most inopportune times imaginable.

    it's a sweet life you're living!

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  25. Okay. Silas? Adorable and amazing beyond words. His smootchiness knows no bounds. How can you keep your lips to yourself?

    But you really had me at Drakkar. Many an unattainable boy wore that scent in my day, and I just had a nice little trip down memory lane just THINKING about the scent. I can still tell you the first and last names of all the boys who wore that from 7th grade on up. It also conjured up memories of listening to songs on the radio or tape and dreaming about slow dancing with them all. See also: Every Rose has its Thorn, Open Arms, and Never Say Goodbye. Special mention: Love Bites.

    Love following you on your journey, Farmgirl. :) xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Love bleeds. :)

      Best comment ever, right here. You speak my language.

      My BFF Sarah and I used to record songs on my fancy boom box/radio. Problem was, we would catch half of them a few bars in... It made for a jarring mixed tape!

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    2. You make me laugh girl! I even snorted at this one! My boom box had a button you could push to hold the record down like a pause button so as soon as I thought the song I was waiting in was coming on I could click that. It took talent my friend because you had to push like three buttons at once! Those were the days weren't they........ We actually had to wear one white glove and learn to moonwalk while playing a Michael Jackson song in band, on a football field, in front of hundreds of people. This white girl learned how to fake the moonwalk really well! (Why am I typing this?)

      Delete
  26. So that first picture, who is the teacher? I assume its the teacher, she looks very much like Alex Anderson, a somewhat famous quilter, teacher, tv personality. If its not her its certainly her dopplegaenger.

    My oldest starts first grade next week and his brother pre-school and they, like Ruby have little to no separation anxiety upon leaving my side. As a matter of fact when I dropped the oldest off for his first day of pre-K three years ago, he was practically in the door before I was out of the car and he never looked back.

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    1. She is Mrs. Bailey. But I can't wait to tell her she has a doppleganger!

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  27. That picture of Silas and his preschool class makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD and SNORT every time I see it! What a
    fabulous remembrance of his personality and attitude at this age--- It is priceless! Thanks for sharing it! I love your blog and
    have been reading it for a long time. I love your style of writing, your humor, your yearning... Thank you! Tamarie

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    Replies
    1. I die. Every time. It has been on my fridge (prime real estate) for almost an entire year because it makes me SO happy!

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  28. My daughter carried a picture of us when she went to her grandmas for a long visit. Mom said she set it up like a shrine, which is just a little disconcerting, lol!

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  29. silas had me silly giggling at that first shot, which came out as mostly muffled snorts since it was 5am-ish and half the house was sleeping. (plus, his teacher's power-through-this-day smile is still cracking me up.)

    you have the best small folk.

    ps at chez owens, the motto is nearly opposite: if our youngest is happy, the rest of the world should probably see if their electronics and unguarded snacks are intact. :)

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  30. I am new to your blog but love your family! Such beautiful children. :) I love the ideas to help with separation anxiety. My husband and I were just granted guardianship of a little boy who in the end we want to adopt. He's only 22 months old right now but he has a hard time leaving my side. I know he is only a baby right now and it's normal but if it continues later in life these will be great tricks to know. Thank you!

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  32. Of our three littles our first flew in the door of Sunday school etc. and never looked back, our second was content to be pried off our leg if she was one of the first to arrive (which sucked if we were late because she would not go) and our third would only be pried off if she was one of the last to arrive. Something about the absence or abundance of other little kids worked for them.

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