Separation Anxiety for the Parent and Child…is 2 and 8 months too young for school?


Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted…but it’s been a roller coaster of emotions when my daughter started school at the end of August.  In Hong Kong, the schooling system is a little wacky.  It’s important to start kids in K1 by 3 years old so that they can get into a primary school of your choice by 5/6 years old.  We chose the English Schools Foundation system as that would help my daughter secure an interview for P1.  It goes K1-3, then P1.  K3 is sort of optional if you either want to keep your child in kindergarten a little longer or they couldn’t quite secure a spot into P1.  It’s also partly subsidized by the government so it isn’t as expensive as the International schools route.  We wanted S to learn through play so we chose an ESF school.  Some of the local schools and international schools can focus a little too much (my own opinion) on academic skills like reading and writing and we wanted our daughter to start having fun in school.  She has plenty of time to be academic.

So, on August 21st, my daughter had her first day of school.  The first week consisted only of 2 days, 2 hours each day and I was with her the entire time.  The second week I went on the school bus with her to school and when I tried to leave her…there was too much resistance so I stayed.  The second day, one of the teachers suggested I tell her that I would only leave for 15/20min and be back.  She seemed ok with that.  The third day, I left her screaming and the teacher holding her.  How heartbreaking was that.  I almost couldn’t leave.  It was important though because some of the other children get a little distressed when they see that their parent isn’t there and someone else’s is.  I stayed close by to wait for a call.  The teacher called about 40 min before the class ended.  A full class for them is 3 hours.  She decided to let S have a shorter day and then go for the full half day the next day.  

On day 4, there were tears and resistance, but I made her look at me and I repeated that I was close by and that I was coming back.  Getting on the bus on her own the day before was a total failure so I decided I would keep taking her and picking her up for the first official week.  The distress on her face was way too much.  I questioned myself that maybe she’s just too young for school.  At the same time though, I knew this would be good for her.  She was enjoying school if I was anywhere in the vicinity.  She loved the painting, the sandbox, the play dough area.  

Week 3, I decided I would take her to school and come back on the school bus again with her on the Monday.  Then Tuesday, she was going to come home on the bus herself.  There were still tears, but she started saying bye bye to me so I saw it as a good sign.  Then on Wednesday, I gave myself a pep talk with the help of a fellow mom that I was going to be firm and show her confidence that she was indeed going to be ok on the school bus on her own.  She cried, but she waved to me.  Now we just completed Week 4, and today, she was upset at first that I wasn’t getting on the bus, but she was ok by the time the bus pulled away and when she came home on the bus today, there was a big smile on her face!

I think sometimes this separation from our child is just as hard on us as it is for them.  It’s a sign that they really are no longer a baby and that they are truly growing up.  

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About mommyhoodhk

I'm a mommy of 2, a daughter who just turned 5 (!) and a son who will soon be 4 (!). Living in Hong Kong and raising a little girl and a little boy married to a wonderful man who is supportive of all of my endeavors. Learning new things everyday and trying to be the best parent and wife I can be.
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2 Responses to Separation Anxiety for the Parent and Child…is 2 and 8 months too young for school?

  1. Wow, Anna! This took some major courage for both of you!

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