My 3 year old has been in preschool for about 6 months now and it has been more difficult than I imagined.
I don’t know if he likes it. He tells me that he doesn’t and he cries every single morning when I drop him off, yet the staff tell me he is happy and very social and he stops crying right after I leave. He excitedly tells me about things at his school, like he will see a bunny or book and tell me his school has that. Sometimes when his dad picks him up, he will ask to stay a little longer. When I ask him why he doesn’t like it, he says it’s because he doesn’t speak English and he gets sick all of time.
I can’t begin to describe the last 6 months of illness. Someone has been sick every single week. I know that people say kids get sick when they start school, but this kid only ever got sick once in his 3 years before starting even though he’s been to rural China and licks random objects, then he is sick every other week after starting school. I was not prepared for that and can understand why he was miserable since I shared most of his colds. The doctor said that his immune system should adjust after about 6 months so at least there’s that.
English is tricky. People say that kids pick languages up fast. Fast is relative. When you are watching your child struggle with not being able to communicate, it is painfully slow. After a couple weeks I could tell his English comprehension increased. He would repeat words while watching Sesame Street and start inserting English words in conversation. It seemed so fast, but then never went anywhere.
My friends told me it takes 2 months. Drop off did get a little easier at the 2 month mark but he still cried. He keeps using more and more English words but he doesn’t actually speak in English sentences. He shuts off when people try to speak to him in English. I thought maybe he’s speaking it at school and just doesn’t want to at home, but that doesn’t seem the case.
We got his progress report at 6 months and they said he’s doing well – social, exceeds physical milestones – but they have no idea about his language ability. The school doesn’t have much experience with kids learning esl but from the experiences they have, they said it takes about a year. If that’s true, then we have a ways to go. One small hope – he loves to “read” the Very Hungry Catepiller to me in English. I’m impressed that he knows most of the words. That one book is my only gage into his English ability. My guess is that there is a ton going on inside his head that he just isn’t ready to let out yet.
I don’t think it’s ever easy seeing your baby struggle, especially when you are doing something to supposedly make him happy. It makes me wonder if I did the right thing, even if I didn’t have much of a choice. All the ponies and bunnies in the world can’t seem to entice this kids to want to go to preschool.