Preschool Dropout: Why I Pulled my Daughter from a School We Love 

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Last year, the baby of our family started her second year of preschool. The first year I was working part-time, so I had to use the hours of child-free time to invest into my work. Mid-way through the year I transitioned out of that position, which allowed me extra freedom to use that kid-free time for my own purposes. It was glorious.

The lunches and the time reading and the extra workouts were glorious. Inglorious: EVERY time I dropped my little gal off at pre-school she became hysterical. She calmed quickly and had fun after I left, but every week she freaked going into class. {I knew her teacher well and our family adores her. The school is the most precious place, and she was safe.} But it caused her panic just to walk up the path. She yanks and clutches and grabs and cries going into Sunday School to this day. Because of her responses, I decided I would pull her out of preschool. I dreaded how low it made me feel to wrestle my hands from her little death grip and deposit her into the classroom while the other kids looked on, incredulous. I just didn’t want to deal with the histrionics of her fit-throwing. 

As a side note, I should mention I don’t think she was/is trying to manipulate, which I would view as a discipline issue. I think she has experienced a longer phase of separation anxiety than my other two kids, and is legitimately fearing the gap between us. I have heard others say that the baby of the family often wants everyone to stay together all the time, and I find this to be oh-so-accurate in her case. 

It is so hard to make a “pull her out” decision because of the fear involved. What about “me time”? Will I be able to function as a mother and as a leader to my children without any sort of break? What if she can’t get in the next year? What if I go insane, and I have given up my spot, and she can never get into school because she still doesn’t know her alphabet? The fears were pretty rational, obviously. I was scared, for sure. My husband assured me he was on board and would do what it took to make sure I got the rest I needed at other times — evenings when he is home, and on weekends. 

So I began this year with no kid-free time. Instead, my little one tags along with me everywhere. We go to school drop-off and soccer practice. We get groceries (and we get pedicures). If I need a break, we take a break together. She prefers no physical space between us, which is a stretch for me. But I am praying that the time and proximity I am giving her this year as a gift of myself will reap a long-term benefit in her long-term groundedness and health. 

And do you know what? I was talking to a friend this evening who told me that something inside her was telling her to pull her kiddo out of preschool. I was so excited to be able to tell her that my fears have been dispelled. The time that my girl and I have spent together have been a joy; it has not been the huge sacrifice I thought it would be. Some days are longer than others, but they all seem pretty short in hindsight.

Some kids love preschool. Some parents need childcare! This is not a one-size-fits-all-solution! BUT if you are like me, and something is telling you maybe your kid could benefit from an extra year at home with mom, I will tell you what I wish I could tell my 2015 self: there’s nothing to be scared of. You know what’s best for your child, and your village will be ready to support you when they’re needed.

No shame in becoming a Pre-School dropout.

 

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Rachel has been a mother for nearly a decade!. When she has all 3 of her kids at the grocery store she is inevitably told that she has her hands full (she does). Her heart is full too, from: exploring foreign cities with Tim (married in '05), adventurous eating with Lowell (10yo), living room dance parties with Ansel (8yo) and taking orders from her adorable drill sergeant, Rosen (6yo). When loss disrupted her life in her early 20's, Rachel gained a new perspective. Her experience means she has more candor than tact, she tells her kids the truth about life and death, she has a passion for people with broken hearts. Her life experiences have also motivated her to help launch a new ministry at her church for grieving kids to find support after death of a loved one.

1 COMMENT

  1. Ohh how i needed to read this today! I recently pulled my youngest child from preschool. I had so many emotions going on in my head, but something was telling me that it was not a good fit for my daughter. She experienced very similar behaviors as your. I gave it a month and nothing changed. I also didn’t think she was manipulating the situation (others disagreed). Thank you for such a reassuring post!

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