Child Hates Preschool

Questions & Responses:
Smart 5yo hates her French preschool(7 responses)
Archived Responses: 
Questions Related Pages


Pre-K going horribly for almost 5 year old boy

Oct 2010


Our almost 5 year old is HATING pre-k. He is getting in a lot of trouble for being too wild and silly and then, when he gets in trouble, doing horribly with his anger (Shouting, some hitting/biting,etc). Now some of the behavior is bleeding into home-life. Thisweekend he was so intense and mad and saying ''you stupid Mommy'' and lots of mean stuff.

Nothing is going on at home that is bad... this has all started since he started school.

From my perspective, having sat in on class for about 8 hours on different days, is that the teachers don't engage the boys enough. They are getting SO wild and silly. I feel like the teachers are too interested in having them sit there and not do the things little boys want/need to do. I do know that he has to learn to sit still and be in class at some point, but that seems like a lot to ask of a bunch of 4/5 year olds to sit in Spanish and learn words.

We gave the teachers VERY specific instructions about our son. He needs lots of positive reinforcement and quick action before he gets himself in too much trouble with these boys. They seem to not be able/willing to do that. When I have sat in, I have seen so many lost opportunities to praise him and bond with him. He HATES school and just keeps saying that his school is ''not a place for me''. Any thoughts? rafi

Dear Rafi, I feel your and your son's pain. We just went through a similar situation with our son's kindergarten and are in the process of transferring him to a more boy-friendly, developmentally focused program. What you've described sounds like a bad fit for your family, and I strongly suggest searching for a pre-K that really understands and supports boys' developmental needs. You might try The Model School or Rockridge Little School...

Good luck! Boys aren't ''bad''--just energetic!

Hi, I have a boy of the same age and recently changed his preschool from a home daycare and somewhat more academic based, to a ''center'' type preschool where there was a lot more outside activity with a lot more room to run. My son had always been quite well behaved (never pushing or destructive)but when he reached 4 years old he seemed to need a lot more room to run and yell and be a boy, so to speak and his behavior went from being compliant and passive to mischevious and at times quite rambunctious, at school anyhow. So although we'd been happy with his daycare for over 3 years (he'd learned to read here and so much more), we realized that he'd outgrown it and that there was nothing wrong with our child's behavior, which I was really surprised and even hurt that the teacher who knew him for so long was trying to imply.He is thriving in his new placement, no behavior problems reported. They do classroom type work in the morning but have outside time before and after to ''get the wiggles out''. I guess what I'm trying to convey here is that it seems like the school may not be a good fit, even if you like the teachers and they seem to be trying everything. Feel free to email me back if you want to chat about the mysteries of 4 year old boys,LOL! biy

I think you should listen to your son. This school is not for him. He is telling you in every way he can. Lots of things stand out for me in what you have written. For one thing, 4/5 year olds should not be getting in trouble for being wild and silly. They should be given some time and space for acting wild at silly and redirected when necessary. Children this age should get in 'trouble' for aggressive behavior or disregarding safety rules but not for normal/ age appropriate behavior.

If the hitting, kicking and biting just started with the change in school setting I would guess that is the biggest problem and focus on finding his a better fit. If the aggression problems pre-date this school there may be other work to do as well. Feel free to get in touch if you would like more assistance in sorting this out. KF

Just wanted to put in a good word for Berkeley Hills Nursery School . I know from personal experience that this school works with children and families to meet the needs of each child. There are current openings in the 4-5 year old room. The program in play based and very aware of the energy that 4-5 year old boys (and girls!) have. The teachers' approach to the children is very hands on and they quite successfully engage the children in play, allow for creative exploration, and redirect behavior in a loving, yet firm manner. Check it might be perfect for your son! Happy BHNS Parent

I didn't see your original post, but I have a very active boy who's now in first grade. When he was in pre-K, we were at the Child Education Center in Berkeley and it was so great because one of the two preK teachers is a man who totally understands boy energy. (The other teacher is a woman with an active son my son's age who understands boys, too.) There was a group of active boys in with my son and their teacher was so great with them, and there is lots of room to run around outside. My daughter is two and is at that school now so I know these preK teachers are still there. You may want to try them out: Andi


3.5-year-old now hates preschool after a year of happy

Sept 2003


My 3.5 yr. old daughter has been happily attending preschool (Chatham) for about a year. She is smart, outgoing and friendly. About a month ago, we switched her schedule from 3 half-days to one half day and two full days.

Shortly after this switch, she has become very reluctant, and mostly refuses, to go to school at all. She cries every time we drop her off, and a couple of times this crying has persisted throughout the entire day.

The teachers are great; they hold her, comfort her, etc. But it has gotten to the point where if we even mention the word ''school'' she freaks out. She starts crying and chanting ''I don't want to go to school. Don't make me go to school''. Her sobs soon become uncontrollable fits (and this is just in the morning before we even get in the car!). I have spoken to the director of the school, who said she is just going through something and it will pass. In the meantime, I am at a loss of how to handle her when she gets this way. I tried to reason with her, ask her specifically what she doesn't like about school, but with no success.

My husband and I suspect the the 2 long days are just too much for her, plus there is a new teacher and many new kids. Maybe she just feels out of her element b/c of all these changes.

We have decided to change her schedule to 5 half-days per week, due to my husband's work hours (he works pt from home) and are hoping this will make things better. In the meantime, does anyone have advice on what we can do to make our daughter feel better about school, and get her to want to go again? I feel so bad for her, especially when she says things like ''Mommy, I don't want to cry at school, but I can't stop.'' On the other hand, we can't let her think its ok to throw fits every morning, so have had to give her time outs, which I feel bad for and end up driving to work in tears. Its just a very difficult situation.

Thanks in advance for your advice. worried mamma

This is a tough situation because you know your daughter liked the school before. I would ask your daughter first if she feels like things have changed at school. Maybe there is a new child that makes her very uncomfortable and the teachers just can't detect it. Crazy as it seems, I remember still the boy that made me feel afraid in ''nursery'' school - and that was 33 years ago! It sounds to me like more than just the new schedule. Follow your instincts if your daughter cannot articulate her fears. Maybe they will lead you to a different pre-school. Best of luck to you. I am sympathetic to your concerns. Anon.

I suggest you take a day and spend it with your child at preschool -- there may be some reason that is hard to see in discussion with the teachers that your child hates preschool -- conflict with another child, or some part of the day that isn't working for your child, or a less than sensitive adult. You might also consider skipping the time-outs and just making your daughter do what you need her to do -- i.e. dressing her yourself or carrying her to the car and buckling her in. It will convey the message that she needs to do what she's asked to do with natural consequences rather than punishment; and will also save time. After all, she is already fussy and miserable, and the goal is to train them to behave, not to hide their unhappiness. This part does get better as they get older -- by 5 or so they can get ready for something even if they don't want to do it. veteran of some rough mornings