The story goes back a couple of years! My daughter had turned 2 and she used to go to a play group close to our home. She was super happy there and being the happy, mingling child that she always was, she was the only child who never cried for mommy during that year.
Like every parent, we wanted to provide the best for our child and started looking for a school where she could start her formal schooling. We did our research, asked around other parents and finally zeroed in on a reputed school where many other kids from our apartment were also going.
So, the new session started and as expected A was very excited to go to her new school, wear her uniform and also to go in the bus with her friends. First few days were as expected, though she would definitely be tired by the end of the day. But a couple of months or so later, she started showing reluctance to go to school, which was quite uncharacteristic.
We had attended the first PTA and teachers seemed to be friendly and were quite impressed with how fast she could grasp what they were teaching.
But within a couple of months, the excitement turned into unwillingness. She would cry in bus for mommy and every now and then she told she did not want to go to school and then some days she would come quite happy and things would appear to be improving. We were naturally worried and spoke to other parents around. All of them assured me that most kids take time to settle and she should be fine a few months. For me however it did not provide any solace, since this was not her first experience of school.
We went to talk to her teachers and they assured us that everything was fine. Her anxiety seemed to be increasing with time for no apparent reason. She told me that some child in the class had hit her and one of the teachers had asked her to stand outside the class. When I spoke to the teacher, she vehemently denied it. There came a time when I would call 2-3 times a week to check if she was fine in school.
She was too young to tell us clearly what was bothering her, but she was clearly not happy.
Then came the time for second PTA and we decided to discuss her discomfort in detail with the teachers. Unfortunately, when the teachers told us about her, it was as if we were talking about completely different children. They told us she was a shy child who had trouble making new friends and she was not comfortable if they put her in new situations like stage performance. We were appalled as she is one of the friendliest kids I have seen and had already given 2 stage performances in her play school with aplomb.
So we started to look for another school, talked to many parents, spoke to the school heads and finally zeroed in on a school. We were quite apprehensive about this new school too because of the previous experience. But thankfully, this school is everything that we had hoped for and more. She loves her school. Even a suggestion of changing the school meets with a vehement ‘NO’. She is again one of the friendliest kids and teachers frequently take her help in making new kids comfortable. She enjoys her monthly show-n-tell activities and loves spending time in school. She also loves her school mates and teachers and she misses her school even during holidays.
So we finally found the perfect school for her, a school which she loves and which allows her to express her personality without fear and without any undue stress. Here are a few points which we learnt from this experience and might help any other parent who is struggling to know whether her child’s current school is right for him/her.
If most of these points are true, there is something wrong with your child’s school and you might start with talking to the teachers and get to the bottom of what is wrong:
- Your child refuses to go to school, even after 3-4 months without any visible improvement
- Your child might get ready but panics at the sight of school or school bus.
- Your child refuses to get out of the bed despite having had enough sleep at night.
- Your child seems to be losing his/her personality. S/he seem quieter than before.
- Your child appears dull and irritable.
- Your child finds it difficult to socialise and make friends.
- It is affecting other areas of their life, like s/he seems uninterested in areas which s/he loved previously like dance, art or sports.
- School complains about your child being hyper-active or having ADHD. In such a case, it is best to talk to authorities about why they think so and consult an expert.
I was told by well-meaning friends that their children cried in the bus for almost 2 years before coping finally, so I should just let her adjust herself. I am glad, I didn’t listen to them.
Please remember that your child’s school might be crowned the best school in the whole city, but it may still not be right for your child. Every child’s needs are unique and just choosing the school with biggest name or most fee may not be enough. So, give your child the benefit of doubt instead of simply assuming that s/he is not able to cope. Putting further pressure on your kid could only worsen the already bad situation for him/her.