My 6yr old just started 1st grade and hates it. The first 3 days of school were ok. After that she cries every morning on the way to school and into the building. Daughter loved preschool and would cry if she had to miss a day. We didn't have a problem with kindergarten. My child was put into a inclusion class this yr. I am wondering if that has anything to do with her not wanting to go. Her complaint is that she doesn't have any of her friends in her class. I tell her that she has to make new friends. What should i do?
From: Jenn, VA
Talk to the teacher! She needs to know your daughter is unhappy, she (the teacher) may even be part of the problem and not realize it. Your daughter may appear to be fine in class; most children are able to hold it together while they are in school and then fall apart when they get home, where they feel safest. There are lots of things a caring first-grade teacher can do to bring her along, from pairing her with a classmate who's a potential BFF to asking her to help her with a task. Doing something one-to-one with the teacher can be huge. By keeping a closer eye on your daughter, she/he may also be able to see when/where/why she's feel left out or uninvolved.
Without specifics, I can't get into the inclusion piece, but is it that you think she is somehow being singled out? Again, ask the teacher to pay close attention and have an open mind; is it possible your daughter is not receptive to classmates' efforts? Frankly, though, three days is way too soon to judge the social piece. More likely, what typically happens in first grade is that a child sees that this is "real" school -- desks alone can be intimidating. She could be worried: "What if I can't do the work?" She also may be comparing herself to her classmates: "I can't read yet and Sasha can! What if I can't do what the teacher wants?"
Find subtle, off-handed ways to remind your daughter of how competent she is. Ask her to write your grocery list while you dictate as you rummage through the 'fridge. (Obviously, just a few items and, yes, inventive spelling is fine!) Compliment her as she cuts on the line. Can she make a list of all the family members so you can remember birthdays?
Sounds like you're doing a good job of acknowledging her concerns about not having friends. Make playdates with last year's playmates so she can remind herself that she is friend-able. Ask her if there is someone in first grade who she kinda thinks might be a friend. Then, rather than putting the responsibility only on her to "make new friends" -- she might have no idea what that means, specifically; most kids this age don't! -- offer to invite that child for a playdate. If that embarrasses her, get creative: Chat with the mom and just happen to be at the playground at the same time, or at Dunkin'.
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