My daughter is very clever. I know most parents say that about their children but DD taught herself to read shortly after turning 3, has the vocabulary of a much older child and can do basic sums and times tables. She has an utterly insatiable curiosity about everything, like most children her age, and sometimes it’s hard working out how to explain a concept she’s interested in to her in a way that she will understand (“Mummy, what’s a universe?”). She’s also very empathetic and caring.
When she started going to preschool last September she really enjoyed it, and that continued for a few months. But as this year has worn on she has become more and more averse to going. There’s been a minor upset with a couple of the other children (they don’t want to play with her, and DD doesn’t understand why not) but otherwise there haven’t been any hiccups. The reason she’s reluctant to go is simple – she’s bored. The sessions are 3 hours each weekday morning and are almost entirely play-focused. And that’s good, it’s great for DD to play with her peers, do singing and painting and all that stuff. But for her it’s not enough.
In the half-term that the children turn 4 they are allowed to join a special group that starts slowly introducing them to phonics and letters. DD won’t be 4 until next month so hasn’t been allowed to join this group yet, despite my pleas to the manager. When she does finally join the group this week she’ll be given a picture book to look at and a notebook with the letter S in, so that she can learn to recognise it. This is in spite of the fact that the staff have told me they regularly find DD sitting in the book corner reading to the other children.
Over the last couple of months it has become increasingly hard to persuade DD to go to preschool. She’s told the teachers that she’s bored (apparently her exact words were “Playing here is boring, I’ve got better toys at home and I can do reading there”). I’ve told the teachers that she’s bored. We’ve dropped her attendance to 4 mornings a week instead of 5 but I still have to leave her sobbing most mornings. Occasionally one of the staff will pull me aside at hometime to tell me that DD has been crying during the morning but usually I hear it from a friend whose son is DD’s best friend.
I appreciate that children of 3 and 4 are prone to tears and that the staff can’t always report every incident to parents. I understand that the manager didn’t want to change their policy about the special group just for one child. But my daughter has spent most of today either quiet and withdrawn or in floods of tears because she has to go back to preschool tomorrow and that’s not right. Quite apart from anything else I don’t want her to think that primary school will be like this, I don’t want her to be discouraged before she even starts.
I would love to remove DD from the preschool altogether but DH and I both think it’s important that she continues the social interaction. We also don’t want her to think that you can stay home from school just because you don’t want to go, because that can’t happen when she starts primary school in September. There are only 6 weeks left before the summer holidays and if this week goes badly we’ll drop another session so that DD goes just 3 mornings a week.
That’s what my head says is sensible. But my heart is torn in two seeing my sunny, cheerful girl so miserable. I hate making her go and I hate contributing to her unhappiness when it’s within my power to alleviate it.