10 September 2009

School Can Be Dangerous, She Says

I take it back. Zoë is not loving school. Every morning this week, we’ve had tears. These are familiar refrains every morning:
Zoë don’t want to go to school anymore.
Zoë don’t want to go to school today.
Zoë want stay with Mommy.
I feel bad. I feel like such a heel making her go when she doesn’t want to, but I know that I will have to give it at least a couple more weeks to give her a chance to settle down and get used to the routines at her school.
If I were to hazard a guess as to why she doesn’t enjoy it as much, I’d put my money on the fact that it’s because she doesn’t understand what the teachers and her other classmates are saying 95% of the time. They speak in Cantonese and beyond “Good morning” and “Hello,” Zoë doesn’t speak nor understand a word of Cantonese. I know from personal experience, though, that it won’t be long before she is able to pick up words and converse well in Cantonese.
What I am concerned about is whether by making her go to school now, I am giving her a negative impression of “school” and that it might take away the joy of being in school later on.
I asked her this morning why she doesn’t like school. She told me: “Because school is dangerous.” Indeed.
Did your children cry when they first started school? How did you deal with it? When did they stop not wanting to go to school?


Yelena R. said...

Aww! I was always excited to go to school, before last year :) I'm a junior in college and its getting hard...so I call my mom and tell her I dont want to go to school anymore :)

I think she will soon realize that school is fun!

LPC said...

My daughter loved school from the moment she started in a little daycare at 18 months. All the way through college, she loved it. My son would cry about the little daycare, even for 3 afternoons a week. "No baby cool, no baby cool..." Nor has he ever taken to school in quite the way my daughter did. So I would vote for give it a few more weeks and then bring her home, if you can. If I had known, those days, that children know who they are, I would have tried it for a while and then would have taken my son out. In retrospect. Your mileage may vary.

Tonggu Momma said...

The Tongginator has always pretty much loved school, but I did want to share something with you. When I was four, I attended a Japanese preschool where I was the ONLY Caucasian in the entire building. I was also the only English-speaker, although the Reading Teacher did know a few words in English. I've been told I cried a bit the first few weeks of school. And I remember one time a boy screaming at me... and I felt real fear, especially since I didn't know what he was saying. But - overall - the good memories outweigh the bad. Truly.

Muthering Heights said...

Poor thing! I hope things get better!!

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I remember when my daughter cried every day in kindergarten, for at least a week. The problem wasn't that she cried all day but that she was bored. She had been homeschooled and knew how to read so at school she was just cutting paper alphabets. After meeting with her teacher and still, no results, I took her out and homeschooled her. No regrets.

Zoe may be trying to adjust after a long break of being with you and Josh. But then again, she may also be feeling lost in the sea of not comprehending.

When I worked as an admin at an elementary school, there was a precious little boy from Korea who was brought over to learn English...he was away from his parents and living with his host family. (Too young if you ask me.) He stayed in the office with me instead of being in class. He just didn't understand or feel comfortable in his class. Even when he eventually went to his class, he'd still need to sit with me in the office for an hour and then he'd be okay.

Give it a few more days and see how she adjusts. She says that it's dangerous?? Zoe may be wise beyond years!

Helene said...

Oh no! Definitely give her some more time to transition. I can tell that Cole and Bella were the same exact way last year when they started preschool. They had a very rough first week and in turn it was rough for me. I felt so bad and so guilty about insisting they go. But you know what, they ended up enjoying it....once they got used to the routine, the teacher and started making friends, they LOVED it. They were the same way this year when they started kindergarten. We're almost 4 weeks in now and they're starting to enjoy it.

I'm sorry this has been so hard for her and for you. It must make you sad to see her disliking school so much. Sending big hugs your way....I do hope things get easier for her and that she starts to enjoy school soon.

Wanda said...

Ah yes, school and tears. My Dahlia was very fearful of her pre-school and even kindergarten last year. And she struggled with the 2 languages (English and French). She still really struggles with French and that was large part of her discomfort.

The tears only lasted for a couple of days with us and even if it was for a few weeks, I would have stayed the course mainly because it sets a precedent that if she doesn't like something - she can just quit (and last time I checked, school wasn't an option - ok, maybe pre-school but still....).

I ran into many similar situations with Dahlia where she wasn't comfortable and wanted to back out. I made her stay until the activity was completed and then she had the option to change her mind. For example - gynastics. She took it for 3 years but this last year started really not ejoying it anymore and wanted to quit mid-term. I said no, we would complete the year's commitment we had taken (and paid for) and then she could decide about next year. I've had to stick to my guns a few times and it's been tough because many of her friends have quit on things but I explain it the same way I explain why we don't watch Hanna Montana or HS musical. It's fine for some families, just not for ours (then I explain further the reasons...bla,bla,bla).

Not knowing Cantonese must be tough on Zoe but she probably will find her comfort zone soon. And she likely will forget the initial discomfort she feels now once she does adapt - in other words, I don't think this will permanently mark school for her.

Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Both parents and teachers are in the best position to help a child who doesn’t like school. Talk with her about why school has become unpleasant, and keep talking. Meet with the teacher and work together to try to change her attitude, to make both learning and the classroom an exciting place to be. If the school takes account of all her likes and dislikes they will be able to plan activities and experiences around that and make her feel welcome, and get her interest going. They may also try to help her starts a friendship with one or more of the other children. Hope she enjoys going to school soon.

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

My son wouldn't cry but his classroom had huge windows that faced the street, so when I dropped him off, he would run to the window and stand there while I got into my car and waved to him the entire time. When he was ready for me to go, he would just stand there, staring at me and stop waving. It broke my heart daily. Eventually he stopped coming to the window.
Its always a huge adjustment at first, but I find that after a couple of weeks, it gets better.

Lindy said...

My daughter ran away from me on her first day of school. I didn't even get so much as a wave good-bye, let alone a kiss.

But wow - that has to be extremely hard to go to school and not understand what they are saying.

If I remember correctly....she already is bilingual right?

Jana said...

My son Isaiah didn't cry he was super excited....at first...then as time went by he struggled and broke down in the car everyday after school, we knew he had learning disabilities...one of the hardest parts for him was socialization, he eventually ended up asking to be homeschooled. I still dont know where he heard that from. Miss Zoe seems ahead of the game in that area so I guess it would just be the language barrier...I would definitely give it more time. Isaiahs teacher found a super bright pupil to stay with him when he didn't understand what to do, he always had that little partner to make things easier. I think they learn alot from their peers.

Jennifer said...

Language immersion. Ahhh, I still go through it every time I spend time with my dad's side of the family. LOL! I'm glad you're giving her a chance to adapt, I think it'll do her well. ;-)

Nezzy said...

Poor Zoe! No, mine marched onto the big yellow bus like they had been doing it all their lives. My poor niece goes to school in Brownsville Tx. where she was not instructed in English 'till the second grade. Right here in the USA, she was the only English speaking child in her class. Sad huh? You and your family have a blessed evening and a better day tomorrow for Zoe.

blueviolet said...

Don't you think she'll eventually find her comfort zone at school again? She's leaving all that is so secure to her and I can only imagine how scary it must be and how frustrating not being able to communicate well would be.

She'll get there, I just know it. Poor little thing.

Mahmee said...

In our personal experience, we were going to send R. to preschool at age 4. However, she begged and begged to go to school early...for over a year! So...we reluctantly let her go a couple of months after her 3rd birthday. We could tell she wasn't ready but, we thought we'd give it a try anyway. She only made it through day 1 and absolutely refused to return. So..we waited until this school year (2 days ago) and decided we were going to stick with it. Fortunately, it has gone pretty well. There have been some tears but, I hear that is very normal when kids first start a structured environment like preschool. In our case, sending a picture of our family along with her was a HUGE help...as her issues have been primarily separation issues. I'll bet Zoe will be fine after a few more days. It is so hard though...watching your child struggle and knowing it's for the best. I would have to say that is one of the toughest parts of parenting for me. Good luck!

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