It doesn’t always end as well as it begins…

by Susan

Sophia’s first day of preschool seemed to be the start of my little girl’s scholastic future.

But the second day brought a few tears of hesitation.

The third day brought tears of desperation.

The fourth day we gave into refusal.

And the fifth day we gave it one last try.

Our last attempt to convince Sophia that she ought to stay in preschool didn’t win her over and instead convinced the principal of the elementary school (where the preschool occupies a room) that Sophia is not ready for school.

My little girl’s full throttle screams not only disturbed all the stunned little preschool students, but rang through the school and brought the principal down to check out the matter.

After the failed attempt to leave Sophia in the classroom, I snuggled her in the hallway and tried to talk her into going back in.

She was NOT interested in going back to class. I stayed with her there in the hallway talking to her as we watched the other children play and sit in circle time.

As I listened carefully to Sophia’s words and body language, I could tell her fears of being left in that classroom were deeper than Julia’s anxiety had been a couple years earlier.

With Julia, I could sense she really did WANT to go to school, she just was having a hard time with the separation anxiety. But Sophia did NOT want to go to school. The excitement of being a ‘big girl’ and starting school had gotten her through the first day, but the reality of spending 2.5 hours twice a week in preschool was proving too much for her.

I think she just isn’t ready. She’s too young. Her third birthday has not yet come and I think she still needs more one-on-one attention. I don’t think she’s ready to be part of a group led by a couple of strangers.

So I listened to her and we withdrew Sophia from preschool.

Sophia is happy. And I think the teachers, the other children and the principal are all relieved.

Next year when she’s three-going-on-four, we’ll try again… and I know she’ll be ready then.

Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 shelly October 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Aw, poor thing! I’m sure it wasn’t easy for your mommy’s heart to see her like that. You made the right decision for her.


2 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Thanks Shelly!

Seeing your child cry is always so hard and I do believe in Sophia’s case, this was the best choice.


3 Susie's Homemade October 7, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Bravo to you to knowing your child so well so that you can really be there for her well-being!


4 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Thank you so much!


5 Lindsey October 7, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I’m glad you didn’t make her go, and you gave it a good try! I’m sure she’ll be ready next year. :)


6 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Thanks Lindsey. Yes, I am confident that next year will be totally different.


7 The Gang's Momma October 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I feel your pain!!!! I did a four or five part series in August about our process of deciding whether or not to send Li’l Empress to pre-school. With her need to develop some specialized listening skills balanced against her struggles with separation PANIC, we really had to think it through long and hard. And I also posted about her first day. Suffice it to say, her first whole month was a gradual process of adjustment and settling in to the new schedule and new experience of being apart from Mommy. Here’s the link to the first day of school post:

And I’m so glad that you pulled Sophia out and decided to wait. Without Li’l E’s hearing issues, it would NEVER even have been a discussion for us at “just” three. Kudos to you for listening to your daughter’s heart-cries. Enjoy the extra time with her and soak it in… it’s all too short, for sure!!!!


8 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Wow, it sounds like you had quite the battle there… so happy to hear that you all made it through.


9 Nolie October 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Awww she just wants some more time with mommy. My kid was happy to ditch me and go to pre-school. Could you maybe try a January intake?


10 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Yes, she does want more one-on-one time… the only thing is it does end up being with her nanny. But she LOVES her nanny so much. She’s been helping me since Sophia was born and she’s like another Grandma to the girls. She’s my neighbor’s mom and since I’m working during the day (at home, but still) I have her take them out to activities and keep their lives exciting.

The January won’t work b/c it’s full.


11 Nolie October 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

So that is how you do it all like super woman. I need me a nanny for some time to get things done. Sadly I don’t get paid for my “work” that I want time for. I am working on that though.

That sucks that it is full. Though maybe a spot might open up. You never know right. Oh well it is ok that she wasn’t ready yet. At least she tried and that is what counts.


12 Kasey October 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Well, I think you did the right thing.

You want your daughter to love school and have good feelings about it, not have anxiety and dread going.

We went through that last year with my daughter who was 3.5yrs old. She didn’t start having the anxiety until like a month in and it lasted about a month or so. She has been great this year, but had an anxiety day today and cried. I just hope she doesn’t go through it for a month.

Glad you’ll be spending some one on one time with your Sophia for another year!


13 Kasey October 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm


I just read the post you linked to about your daughter, Julia’s, anxiety. (I think the comments are closed on it)

I could have written that post about my daughter, Ella, and myself. It’s unreal how it’s sounds exactly like our experience with school, anxiety and panic attacks. I had tears.

We should chat more. I would love to hear how you’re all dealing with it as we’ve just started our 2nd year of preschool but have dealt with it since Ella was born.


14 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Yes, we should definitely chat more about it!!!


15 Deb - Mom of 3 Girls October 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Oh Susan, I’m so sorry that Sophia continued to have a difficult time in preschool. I think everyone is right though, that you made the best decision and hopefully in another year she’ll be more able to handle it. I love seeing how excited Becca is for preschool every day (she’s 4-1/2 though) and don’t think I could handle it if she were upset or anxious about it. There’s nothing wrong with waiting – not every situation is a good fit for every child, for sure. Hugs…


16 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Thanks Deb.

Yes, I’m soooooo relieved that Julia LOVES Kindergarten and that after those first couple of months she loved preschool too.


17 Mikki October 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Your such a great mom! You wanted your child to have fun and experience preschool, but even better, you loved on her and saw that she wasn’t ready.
She’s lucky to have a mom like you.
Praying you have peace about this and that not guilt will take over. You are doing the BEST thing for her.


18 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Thanks Mikki!!!


19 Amber Strocel October 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I think it’s so great that everyone was able to listen to Sophia and follow her cues. I’m sure you’re right – she’ll be all ready to go next year. For now, she’s where she needs to be.


20 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Thanks Amber. Yes, as I’m so familiar with anxiety myself, I know how difficult it is. I really wanted to make sure I tried to recognize what degree Sophia was experiencing and what her needs really are. I feel confident that we made the right choice.


21 Kristen M. October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Nothing wrong with pulling her out of preschool. My daughter loved preschool as a three year old but wasn’t interested as a four year old. She was bright and did well in social situations. Just wasn’t interested. She sat out the next year and did just fine in kindergarten. My son skipped preschool all together and also did fine adjusting to kindergarten.


22 Susan October 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Thanks Kristen for sharing your experiences… it really helps to hear from other Moms.


23 ElleJay October 8, 2010 at 4:31 am

It gets better Susan, but you did the right thing giving it a try. My Littleguy just changed school this year and I was scared he wasn’t going to adapt, but he’s doing just fine. I was the worried one he was going to feel to much like “the new kid”, or left out from the other kids, but tried hard not to show him what I felt and not showing him my anxiety. Worked out he is happy now, a month from the beginning of school. He hated his last school and everymorning was real tough for him to get out of bed, he was faking sick and would’nt eat at school. I left my job because I felt I wasn’t giving him enough time and knew that in a few years he will have other intrerests rather than spending time with me. Best of luck with your sweet daughters! Moms are the same all over the world!
ElleJay from Rome, Italy


24 Lisa October 8, 2010 at 6:36 am

As a preschool teacher of young 3′s (those who enter school at the same age as Sophia 2-1/2), I applaud you! Not because you withdrew your child from disrupting the class but because you know your child the best and you made the right decision :)
We see so many little muchkins come to school who are just not ready to be away from their parents.
I applaud your decision and think it’s awesome that you get to spend another year at home with your daughter! When she is ready to go back to school you will both feel so much more peace without the anxiety.
Hugs, Lisa


25 Sherry October 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

I applaud you for thinking of your daughter’s needs. You gave a couple of days and didn’t just take her home after the first day of crying. I work at a preschool, and have witnessed parents and teachers alike force little kids into preschool…the kids scream and cry day after day…teachers sit in the hallway with the kids, never call the parent, and the child gets nothing positive from the experience.


26 LaVonne October 8, 2010 at 11:49 am

We put my own Princess in a childrens church program for the first time this week. Just for 1.5 hours. I was in the hotel nearby her. She did not last. Within 30 minutes one of the teachers brought her back and she had been crying very hard. She will be 3 in three months but she is just not ready to be apart from me. That is okay.

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.


27 Louise October 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

One thing I appreciate about your site is your willingness to share and be so open about things like this. Sounds like you made the right decision, we had talked about putting Miles in this year and I don’t think it would have gone half as well as your situation with Sophia. Miles wants to be in the same class as Zoe and he’s a year younger, so we just decided to keep him home with me for one more year and hope that next year he is ready to be in his own class!


28 Rachel October 9, 2010 at 9:55 am

This is so precious! I think you absolutely did the right thing… We faced a similar situation recently and don’t regret the decision… In fact are so glad that we kind of stepped “outside of the box”. Hard at first, but so worth it later. Thanks for sharing :)


29 Stephanie October 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Kudos to you for being in tune with your little girl’s feelings. She sounds like a tenderhearted and smart little girl who isn’t afraid to dance to her own beat. (She must get those characteristics from her mother!). ;)


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