As a full-time working mom, your kids usually don’t get the option to delay socialization. Childcare is a necessity. I was lucky enough to have family nearby that offered to help watch my kids while I went back to work.
For the most part, it worked out extremely well. But, as our daughter started to get a little bit older, we noticed some growing pains. She was starting to express more and more “stranger danger” even with people she saw on a regular basis. There also seemed to be some normal toddler issues like trouble sharing, tantrums, and overall socialization with other children. She just didn’t seem interested in other kids that weren’t her cousins.
We decided to start looking into schools in our area that offered programs more than just a daycare setting. We wanted to nurture her smarts, but also develop her socialization skills. When we discovered her current school, it was like something just clicked.
After a couple parent and child visits in the classroom, she was ready to start all on her own. We enrolled her in two, full-day classes per week in a young three program. The class required the child be at least 2 1/2 to start. My daughter was exactly that.
The first few weeks were great. It was like she didn’t even need me. She was excelling in the class, quiet, but doing well without me. Then, something changed. Suddenly, she didn’t want to go to school one morning. She cried that day at drop off and continued to cry at drop off for the next two weeks. It was hard, really hard. But, her teacher assured me once I left, she would settle down and enjoy her day.
After some long talks about the fact that she truly enjoyed school, the crying stopped and we were back to easier drop offs. Her school year finished last year impressively well and she made huge strides in her socialization skills.
Perhaps I didn’t quite see just how much progress she had made until she started preschool this year. I was concerned about the change. Summer had passed, she had spent time at home with me and her grandparents, and this year it would be a new teacher and classroom. We had the opportunity again to meet the teacher on a parent/child day. I met a few of the other moms who were much more nervous than me. I realized their daughters would all be starting school for the first time this year. I reassured them that there may be some rough days but it will eventually pass. They will love it here.
When I picked my daughter up after her first full day in preschool, her teachers were disappointed she wasn’t going to be there everyday. She had done impressively well. I asked her how the day went. She smiled and told me the other kids just had a lot of learning to do, and they need to listen to the teacher more.
I smiled back at her. Mostly because it still surprises me when she speaks like she is so much older, but also because she is now the professional. I was so worried about her starting a new classroom but because we started her socialization early, her confidence was built for the present.
We don’t have any crying at drop off. She counts down the days, hours, minutes until she gets to go to school. She kisses and hugs me goodbye but then jumps right into class like it’s her second home. She comes home and tells me all about her many, many friends and everything she learns about each day. Socializing her early forced her out of her comfort zone but it has done so much more for confidence and her future.