There is a little girl in my three year old class who loves school. She walks in with a big smile and participates in every activity. It isn’t until we go out on the playground that she begins to get upset, and her little world starts to crumble.
This child goes to an afternoon program called Mini-Day, which begins at 11:45, as soon as our morning class ends. Her parents work, and they need her to be in school until that program ends at 2:00. It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy the activities she does in Mini-Day. Her problem is that she sees other parents picking their children up at 11:45, and that makes her anxious for her own mother. Knowing our routine, she realizes that our last activity is usually going on the playground, so that’s when she starts getting upset.
This is a mature, reasonable child so we have tried to reason with her. We explain that her mother has to work, and her mommy feels good leaving her in a place that’s safe and fun and where she can play with her friends. So far, that hasn’t worked. We just instituted a sticker chart and she gets a sticker every time she walks into Mini-Day with a smile. We are optimistic that this will work.
We have asked her parents to continue to talk to their daughter about her fears and reservations. They need her in that program, so we must persevere until it works. Soon, I expect, she will realize that she is there to stay, and she will allow herself to relax and have fun. In the meantime, it is difficult for all of us.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, remain optimistic. Ask your child what you or her teachers can do to make her feel better about her extended class. Assure her that you will always be there to pick her up the minute your work and her class are over. Ask her a lot of questions about what she did that afternoon, and be sure to remind her how proud you are of her.