Reluctant to start pre-school

Dear Patti,

I want to send my 4-year-old to pre-school this fall but she's already showing resistance. How can we ease her into the idea? When we ask why, she simply says she doesn't want to go because she doesn't want to grow up.


Dear Ms. G.,

It is absolutely normal for a child to be fearful of attending her first school. She may be afraid to leave you, in which case, you should assure her that "mommies leave, but they always come back." She may be afraid of the school itself. I would advise a visit to the classroom when no children are there, so that she can see all the wonderful, child-sized things there are to play with and to do. (See if you can also visit the yard where the children play.)

Also, she may actually be saying what she means: it IS sometimes frightening to think of growing up, with all the scary things one has to do by oneself. So, you should show her that growing up has this advantages, as well. You can tell your daughter that when she starts school, she will be a bigger girl, so she can have a privilege she couldn't have before, such as staying up a little later. (you can pick what's appropriate in your life, but don't make it a toy. This is not a bribe.) This way, your child will begin to see that getting older has its advantages along with its responsibilities.

Usually, when children DO start school, their worries dissipate, because school itself is so much fun!

Patti Greenberg Wollman

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