I was on the phone with a friend the other day, and when she asked how I’ve been doing, I replied that I’ve settled in really happily, and the only problem we’ve had has been with Jayce’s school.
Ugh, school. I haven’t talked much about it other than his first day, so it’s time for a bit more. Honestly, it has been rough.
Jayce has been in school for 4 weeks now. He was so excited to start, and every day would ask if he got to go to school that day. The morning of school he bounced all around the living room until we could leave, and when we arrived, ran into his classroom without a backwards glance. But as the week went on, every day his enthusiasm decreased and his apprehension increased.
We knew that the long day was going to be difficult on him and he was going to be very tired. He had still been napping at home but wouldn’t be at school, so there was that, plus he’d be having days filled with a completely new place and people all day long.
I spoked to his teacher each day after school, and discovered that every day he would get sad and weepy around lunchtime and in the afternoon. This is normally when he would be napping at home, so I asked the teacher if, instead of him going outside for the post-lunch recess, if he could stay inside to just read and rest in their quiet corner. He even brought his bear that he sleeps with at home to give him some comfort and sense of home while he rested. This seemed to help somewhat for a few days, but by the end of the week he was worse and didn’t want to go to school at all.
Each day I would find out that he was asking for me and crying, and it was increasing each day. One of the teachers would go sit with him at lunch. He would stay with the teacher who was outside and hold her hand at recess. He said he was scared that when everyone went inside, that he would go with the wrong class and end up in the wrong classroom. 🙁
When we asked him about school on the weekend, he cried. We brought it up occasionally and tentatively, testing him for moments where he felt comfortable enough to talk about it. He liked his class. He liked his teachers. The kids were nice. He did fun things in his classroom. But his favorite part of the day was when mom picked him up.
He said he didn’t like school because he missed mom. He’d say, “I don’t want to go to school for a long time, just for a little bit of time.”
The most difficult part of all of this, from Chris and I’s perspective, is that Jayce’s behavior and response to his school more than likely had little to do with the school itself. I’m guessing that the main factor was that EVERY SINGLE THING in his life has just changed. (Aside from his immediate family, of course.) New house, new bedroom, new parks, new mode(s) of transportation, new school, new teacher, new, new, new. Old house gone, old toys gone, old friends gone, old school gone, old car gone, etc. In the midst of all of these huge changes, (that are difficult for even full grown adults to deal with,) he goes to school from 9-3:30, and I think it was just too long for him to be away from the only stable thing in his life for the past month, me and Chris.
On the Monday of his second week at school he didn’t want to go at all, he didn’t want to get dressed, and was crying. Not that “bratty crying” where you’re like “okay, you’ll be fine,” when they can’t have another cupcake or something. But he was so sad and just in complete despair.
I took him to his class and he didn’t want to go in. He was literally crouching behind me in the hallway, and when I tried to take him in the classroom he clung to me and started crying. I tried reassuring him and settling him down in multiple ways, even taking him in to start the activity that the rest of the class was doing, but he wouldn’t let go of me. I asked the teacher what she wanted me to do, and she had me pass him over.
That was it. It broke me. There were so many huge changes in his life that I couldn’t do anything about. But if the school day was too long, I could do something about that.
The teacher had told me repeatedly at the start of the year that for the first few weeks their main goals were to make sure that the children were happy and comfortable, and he obviously was not happy or comfortable. And this boy just didn’t seem like my Jayce. So we were going to make some adjustments.
The next day I told him that I would pick him up from school right after lunchtime. That he would only go for the morning and lunchtime. This perked him up considerably. I talked with his teachers, whom I had been talking with all along, and they completely supported our decision. We decided that we would only send him to school for these “half days” until the end of the term (end of October) or maybe until after Christmas, and he would start going full days in the new year.
The new schedule made a HUGE difference. He didn’t fight me to go to school in the morning anymore. When he would start getting dressed, or I would say something about school, he would ask, “Mom, are you going to pick me up after lunchtime today?” And when I replied that I was, he willingly, and eventually happily, went on to school.
The first “half day” week he slept EVERY single afternoon when he got home, and still went to bed well at night. The teachers said that it seemed to be making a HUGE difference, that he was happier, much more willing to participate, and starting to branch out and make friends. The second week was even better.
This week one morning, completely out of nowhere, he told me that he wanted to go to school the whole day. We talked about it a bit here and there all morning, and I kept suggesting that maybe he go all day the next day, but he was confident that he wanted to on that day. Thinking that it was better if this idea came from him than us, I decided to let him. The teacher said the same thing when I brought him to the door and informed her that he’d be staying all day. “And it was his idea? How wonderful!”
And it has been going great. The head teacher came up to me after class and told me that he had such a great day and did amazingly well. That he seemed totally happy and there were no problems at all. No crying for mom, tentative behavior, or sadness.
He has been in for 4 full days of school now, and though I am hesitant to declare that we are completely out of the woods, I am just so happy and relieved to have my boy back.
This happy boy, who races Hannah in the stroller on the way to and from school, brings home his artwork to hang on the walls, chatters about the games that he played, jumps on the furniture and races around the living room “rescuing” someone or another, that is my Jayce. And I’m so glad to have him back.
Linking to Carissa for Miscellaneous Monday.