Henry started attending pre-school a couple of days a week just after New Years. We thought it would be best to ease him in slowly before he is due to start attending 4 mornings a week after Easter. He's always been a really friendly, confident little boy so in all honesty we thought he would settle in quickly. However that has been far from the case. He cries & pleads with me to take him home every time I drop him off. He always cries with relief when I collect him too. We have been called in to collect him earlier than planned a few times because he has been so upset.
It's now 2 months later and settling in just doesn't seem to be happening. It's been a really hard 2 months on us all if I'm honest. He woke up this morning after a night of bad dreams (despite being really happy all weekend) and the first thing he said was 'mummy I don't like playschool, please let's stay at home instead'. We never go to playschool on Monday but it's obviously weighing on his mind. I've also seen my happy confident little boy's behaviour change massively. He adjusted so well to Baby Niamh's arrival in October so it's been a bit of a shock that starting pre-school has had such a major effect on him. He's become reluctant to go anywhere wanting to stay at home much of the time. He doesn't like visiting other children anymore preferring to play by himself all of a sudden. He's displaying much more anger than he ever had before & has been having frequent bad dreams. Transitioning into pre-school seems to have shaken my little boy to his very core & it's heartbreaking to see.
He's never been one for charging around manically or boystrous behaviour preferring to sit & play a game, read or make something. he used to happily do this alongside other children, but lately seems angry whenever his playtime is inturrupted by other children. His calmness has alway been a bit part of who he is. However lately his calmness often seems to be replaced with anger & upset. He seems a little lost of late & I don't know how best to help him.
His pre-school teacher believes that a big reason for Henry's upset is because he's very advanced meaning that he over thinks things when many others his age just dive in and have a go. We did discuss the option of putting Henry into an advanced curriculum however after much thought i think we've decided against it for now. I know that because Henry seems to genuinely enjoy learning new things that he will continue to do so without being put into a regimented academic curriculum so soon. I would also worry that it would halt other areas of his development that aren't so quantifiable. You see Henry is incredibly good when it comes to learning new things & holds conversations confidently with adults and has done since he was small. However he can be lazy & reluctant to try new things as a result of his sharp brain. We joke that he's destined to be management as he often tries to talk his way out of doing something by convincing you to do it instead whilst he supervises you. He will avoid doing things if he doesn't think he can do it well. He has always been very precise & likes to think things through before attempting to do anything. Often you can see the cogs turning in his head as he watches people doing something taking in all of the information. However lately if he deems something too difficult, messy, noisy or just plain boring for him he will outright refuse to do it (potty training included!!!)
I think this an unfortunate trait that he gets from me. I am fiercely competitive and will often only try new things that I think I will succeed at. This fear of failure & need to do well has been with me since I was a child and often stopped me doing things that I'm sure I would have really enjoyed and eventually become accomplished at. I don't want my children to hold themselves back in the same way. I know I can't change who he is innately however I'm hoping that by encouraging & supporting him to try new things from a young age that he will learn to overcome his desire to avoid things that carry a risk of failure.
It's really not all doom and gloom. Henry seems to genuinely like his teacher Miss Beverley & his key worker Katy a lot. He goes to them for comfort when he is upset and always hugs them goodbye even if he is crying to go home at the same time. He has a lovely little friend called Benji who seems very similar to him. They often gravitate to each other & play quietly together. He talks of Benji fondly & chatters about him being great fun. Also during his first month at pre-school Henry was lashing out & hitting other children but that has completely stopped thankfully & seems to have been a short lived phase. He likes the place, especially the large outside spaces & wooded area to play in. All of this leads me to believe that it's not a case of the problem lying with the teacher or the place & makes me scared to pull him out & put him in another unfamiliar place.
However are these few good signs enough to carry on subjecting us all to this upset? Is 2 months long enough? I'm trying so hard to do what is best. Everybody hands out their opinions freely & these range from 'you're doing the wrong thing, he's obviously too young & not ready' to 'if you give up now he'll only have more trouble when he starts school'. My gut instinct when he looks up at me with tear filled eyes & begs to come home with me is to pick him up & run home with him. I hate that he is so upset by it all, but my brain says to keep trying because we've come this far & giving up may just be delaying this only for us to have to do it all again next year when he'll remember more of it.
I've debated joining a homeschool network & following a Montessori based curriculum at home. We do a lot of Montessori activities as part of our everyday routine & play anyway (in an attempt to get Henry more hands on & less cerebral in his learning) so it could work well. The only downside to this is time. I won't be able to homeschool, care for a baby & work as much as I am. After years of building up my business would it be silly to stop now that things are getting successful? Would it be selfish to put my work first though?
I've never been so confused in my life! I really don't know what is for the best. All I know is that the way things are is breaking my heart & that my baby boy is not as happy as he should be. However today is a playschool free day so for now we will ignore the worry & play together.