My child hates preschool - FamilyEducation
My child hates preschool
09/22/2009 at 13:10 PM

     My 4 y/o son loved preschool last year.  He has his same teacher this year who he likes.   This year he hates going. (It's 2.5 hrs, 3 x a week).   He says the kids don't like him,  it's boring, he doesn't like the toys,  songs, crafts,  or any aspect of school.  He won't really elaborate on anything.

   I've spoken with the teacher, who hasn't noticed anything out of the ordinary.  She says he seems fine in school.   He's a well behaved kid, and I don't know if he'd really act up in school even if something's bothering him. 

     He's  bright and sometimes overly sensitive.   But still I don't know if he's just playing me for attention because he senses I'm concerned about it.   I try to ask him questions lightly,  and ask him what was the most fun thing he did during the day.  His typical response is "nothing" or "leaving."

   I guess we're bothered mainly because he loved it sooo much last year and this year he acts miserable about going.  Teacher doesn't notice anything.  What should we do?     

Have you tried fostering a friendship for your son with another classmate?  Maybe getting together outside of the school will help.

Since the preschool is only 2.5 hrs long, it sounds like he must get out by lunchtime.  How about inviting another child and his mom to join you for lunch at McDonald's or some such place.   The kids can eat together and play in the ball pit for a bit. 

Maybe that way he will have someone to look forward to seeing at school.


I just noticed that elsewhere on these boards you posted asking for opinions on baby girl names.   I am making an assumption that you are expecting a new baby in the family?  


Could it be that your son's mood is due to his anxiety about the pending arrival of a new baby?  Maybe he is feeling insecure with the baby coming and wants to be with you as much as possible?


Just some thoughts that came into my mind.


pre-school is optional.   


Could he be having any problems with any of the other children? Did anybody new start? Are there any changes at home? Is his teacher going to keep an eye on him to see if there is something going on?
I know some of our children when asked by a parent what they did that day will say 'nothing' and not want to talk about their day although the staff know they had a great day and joined in so many activities.
Pre-school is optional but he would be missing out on so much if he didn't attend. Give it a try for a little bit longer and see how it goes.


Thanks for your advice, everyone.  I know "preschool's optional,"  but my son has clearly benefited from going last year (3y/0).   And I don't think pulling him out is a solution - he might want to be pulled out of kindergarten next year :)

 We do some things with a few other kids outside of preschool and he seems fine,  but it doesn't seem to help him be happy about school.   In hearing some things he's said and another kid said,  there might be one or two kids that tend to be a little mean (to everyone)  and my son internalizes it.    We always try to instill confidence in him,  but he's very sensitive.  So maybe that's the problem.  We're taking it a day at a time!  

He loved school last year, though.  Could it just be him and his personality changing between ages 3 and 4?


Have you gone to the school and observed what is going on? We make unannounced visits at school and to see for your own eyes is a different matter. It is not that you dont trust but you can actually get first hand sights and info....You dont have to even go in the room..If your son doesnt know you are there then he will be himself and you can see.


Ask him if he would rather stay home with you .  If he says Yes then do it. 

Both my brother and sister didn't like pre school and still accuse our mother of being unfair for sending them to pre school.  On the other hand as the first child I was sent to preschool for five days a week from the age of two till I was five and I loved it.

If you are pregnant make sure that he understands that the new baby is not a substitute for him.  And tell him that as he was the first baby he will always be very special.

My son innocently asked how long his sister was going to stay.  He was not jealous he honestly didn't realise that she was there forever and I had never thought of explaining that fact to him.

Your son may think he is being replaced so just check it out with him to see if he has some misconceptions.


My little girl is 3 1/2, social and outgoing.  I thought she would love pre school, yet doesn't really want to go. She does, without too much hassle but has no energy for it. Saying good bye's in the morning is getting easier, with some hard days. She doesn't get the daily stickers like most kids in her class, she is a bit more independent than the teacher would like.  I have thought about another school, but wonder if she really needs school?  I read some other emails and will go to her class this wk, to see how she acts. If it's just ok- what do I do?  If she is sad- do I quit the school?  My husband died 1 1/2 yrs ago, and I need to work, if we donn't do preschool than its day care???  Any thoughts....


If it's just OK, and she isn't upset, I would have her stay. She does have relationships with the teachers and the other kids, and disrupting those would be stressful for her, so there would have to be a pretty compelling reason. If she's bothered by not getting stickers for good behavior at pre-school, get your own stickers. I provided day-care in my home, and if you find a good match, like my clients did, then saying good-bye at the other end of the day can be challenging. With one little boy, we had to say that you have to leave happy so you can come back. I did have some short-term clients that weren't a good match, they just kept looking. What is your leave situation like at work? I would suggest, if it is possible, that you take a Wed. off a couple of times a month, (call it a mental health day)just to break up the week. Little kids and their parents don't get enough time together. Don't make it a "Disneyland" day, just a day when you can spend time together at home. Don't make it a chore day, just the daily tasks. Don't make it a run all the errands day. Just make it our day. I bet that would help. Oh, and don't make it a reward for kicking up a fuss day or for good behavior either. Tell her in advance, circle it on the calendar, mark off the days, and then honor it.

I work in a pre-k class at a daycare. I have a little girl now that used to get bullied at the previous daycare she attended. Mom removed her and Grandma had been watching her full time for many months. The finally decided that it was a good idea to get her back into a center somewhere as she will start Kindergarten next year and also because they don't want her to be afraid anymore. They actually took her to several different facilities (including the one I work at) and let her look around and meet all the kids and the different teachers and let her choose where she wanted to go. She chose our center and everything has worked out perfectly with her. She was very timid at first but I've paid lots of attention to her to get her through the rough times in the beginning and now she is happy and doesn't cry when getting dropped off. I've not noticed any bullying either. Different centers/teachers are different. I too do the daily stickers. I have a few children who tend to act out a little more than the rest and they were always getting x's on their monthly papers instead of stickers. So what I started doing was breaking their day with me into 5 parts so they had 5 chances to get a sticker. If they were good for morning play they got a sticker. If they behaved during circle time then they got a sticker. Then if they got at least 3 out of 5 stickers on their paper I'd mark their monthly sheet with a sticker for that date.This has worked out well for them. They may get an x, but then they know they still have a chance to earn a sticker during another part of the day. Maybe daycare instead of an actual preschool would work out better for you if you have to send her somewhere because of your work schedule. Some daycares have really good programs in place. I suggest visiting different centers and speaking with the teachers. Ask them about their daily routines, how they handle disciplining, rewards, classroom rules, etc. The right place is out there for you. Good Luck!