Back to school blues

Some of you are still on spring break, but my kids went back to school today. I'm looking for suggestions on making it through the rest of the year emotionally, for parents if not for kids. Today they were pretty sugar-fueled and were happy to see their friends, but I know that by the end of the week they'll be feeling weighed down by homework and expectations again.

And that weighs me down with homework and expectations. (Which is kind of funny, because my own homework and expectations at school don't weigh me down that much. Lesson: It's always better when it's optional.)

We're in a long stretch now, with only Memorial Day Weekend to break up the weeks until school is out in June.

How do you all make it mentally through this stretch?

35 thoughts on “Back to school blues”

  1. My 3.5 year old was crying at drop off today, and her teacher suggested it was because she didn’t walk “independently” to the classroom like the other kids (I walk with her down the hall, because she likes me to). Also, the teacher mentioned she was also noticing an academic regression. But my thought is: She’s 3. She cries sometimes. It’s Monday. Academic regression? What could this possibly mean? Except for possibly we are in the wrong preschool?

  2. I too am dreading the return to preschool. After a week off, my ADHD boy might be real resistant to going back to the routine. I feel like it’s a crapshoot in terms of what his behavior is going to be like. Fortunately his special ed teacher is going to be with him on his first day back (she comes to class once a week with him) so at least there will be someone there who can deal with him if he’s out of control.We’re going to spending LOTS of time tomorrow morning talking about good choices and expected behavior.

  3. I’m not sure this makes things better or worse, but it might be useful to know that many of the teachers feel the exact same way.

  4. Re-entry was rough for us today. Made worse by the start of construction on my way to/from work. Not sure how we’ll make it through, except that staying in the routine is easier than getting back in.

  5. I’m in the thick of vacation week, with my parents watching my son and staying with us. Which is pretty tough in and of itself! I’ll be watching this site for good advice.AmeliaV, the last part of your comment also made me laugh. I think you are onto something there. How the heck does a 3 year old have academic regression?

  6. Dear Teacher at AmeliaV’s Preschool,A bunch of strangers are laughing at you.
    Best wishes,
    One of the strangers
    PS Seriously, get a grip. PREschool.

  7. @Slim is right, as always.Although maybe your kid is just really advanced, so you don’t have potty-training regressions or biting regressions, you have academic regressions.

  8. What is wrong with preschool and even kindergarten teachers these days? OK DEFINITELY NOT ALL TEACHERS (sorry), I’m just referring to a friend’s experiences with her oldest son starting kindergarten last fall. He most likely will have an ADHD diagnosis, but the things they have written home about him are just ridiculous. He’s FIVE and he “has trouble being patient when he wants something” and “sitting still,” and “not freaking out when things don’t go his way.” OK now I am definitely no expert in children but it seems ridiculous to expect a 5 year old to graciously accept that he cannot play with that toy right now. Am I crazy??? It has made my friend, who is normally not frazzled by anything, feel horrible about her parenting, and wonder if she’s screwed up her kid for good. UGH. My little one is only 18 months so we have a ways to go with this, but I think it starts even in daycare. My son was “kicked out” of his last daycare because he wanted to be held all the time and they didn’t have the staff to accomodate his needs. He was also teething wicked bad and right smack in the middle of the 9 month sleep regression so he was on a nap strike and screamed ALL DAY LONG. Anyhoo, I digress.

  9. Thanks so much for the perspective around this today. I was pretty upset about it this morning! My love to my friends, the laughing strangers! :-).

  10. Wine.Just kidding (maybe)
    I would think on how you’re feeling, ask them how they’re feeling, and talk it out. I would have *loved* it if my parents had asked me how I felt about the end of the year pressure/blues/no days off/after holidays. It can get depressing for sure, especially depending on what your weather is like. I would also advise planning at least one thing for each of the weekends until summer so that you all have something to look forward to.

  11. I’m right where you are, Moxie. I’m holding on tight for the roller coaster end of the school year with all the end-of-whatever parties and, for us, several birthdays. I’m trying to find time to do the things that relax me (I got into the yard and did some digging in the dirt) and I made a meal plan for the week. I am promising myself that I will limit the amount I volunteer to help with all the end of year activities. (I wish someone could hold me to that promise….)

  12. We have a few built-in snow days that we didn’t have to take this year, so we are lucky and have several 4 day weeks which I think will really help. We also have lots of fun activities planned for weekends. A trip to visit family, a camping trip, and an art class. But I am still ready for summer vacation!

  13. The expectations, ugh. That’s what gets me. I notice that I get so impatient and exasperated with my kids during term and that this completely dissipates during school break, when I fall in love with their uniqueness all over again. That’s my struggle – the stuff that makes them awesome doesn’t match with the norms expected from school. When the mismatch becomes clear, what do I do? Either get frustrated with the school’s need to enforce too general norms or get frustrated with my child for not finding a way to work it. Throw stress into the mispx and I just flip flop erratically until the next break when I feel great and connected with my child again. If anyone has found a way to travel the ‘neither’ option, I’d love to hear how you do it.

  14. What about a “one fun thing a month” plan?Everybody gets to choose one fun thing to do a month: museum trip, indoor mini-golf, Saturday afternoon board game festivus, etc.
    I’ve found the long slide after the Christmas holidays to be tough for me until I realized that I needed something to look forward to, so I started planning my fun.
    Once I had something to look forward to on the weekend or even weeknight, I began to feel better about dragging myself out of bed.

  15. This was me a week ago. My kids’ dad and I are recently divorced and he took them to see his family in FL (plus Disney and the space shuttle and surfing and so on) for the week. Within minutes of walking in the door, the youngest was sobbing about now he wanted to be with daddy. It caught me so off guard because it is so unlike him and I had missed themso much, that I started crying which was the worst possible thing and made me feel like such a bad mom, making me cry more. Me crying then made my daughter cry, so we were all crying together. It was awful.

  16. Until right now I didn’t even think this would be an issue. Boy goes back to Kindergarten next week, and is spending his days this week with his father. At least I am on guard for possible emotional upheaval. Which – having just recently divorced – is nice, for a change. Instead of being blindsided by it.

  17. I am sorry to lead this off on a tangent, but AmeliaV’s comment (and some subsequent comments) remind me of a subject I’ve been super worked up about lately.WHY IS EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION SO DAMN ACADEMIC NOW? I mean, I know the answer to that, everyone’s freaked out about NCLB and CCSS and standardized tests, and the obvious solution (despite apparent research to the contrary) is to just start ’em younger.
    But I feel like lately the whole world’s gone insane. On my child’s first day of 3-y-o preschool, he got in trouble because he refused to sit down and do work. Obviously we worked on him heavily at home via threats and bribes, because he needed to follow directions at school, but seriously?! WORK?!
    And then the other day I actually heard another mom say, “Oh, So-and-So checked out XYZ preschool’s two-year-old program, and she said it wasn’t academic at all.” TWO. YEAR. OLD.

  18. Yes Shannon, YES YES YES. Why do we want them to grow up so fast? That’s ridiculous about your son getting in trouble, what the heck??? Kids are supposed to *like* school, and with this trend they’ll be hating it before they even hit kindergarten!!! And what’s up with homework in kindergarten? I am SHOCKED by the amount my friend’s son gets. I dunno, maybe I’m overreacting.

  19. @Slim, Ha! Exactly.@all others dealing with over-schooled, under-played kids: I am there with you.
    My over-anxious, thinks-too-much, expects-the-negative-always 6-year-old sobbed this morning at the prospect of going back to Kindergarten after our break last week. Part of this is his personality (any change is BAD!), and part of this is his not really enjoying Kinder.
    IMO, schools are rushing childhood. Kids are not playing enough in Kindergarten. Yes, it sucks. I haven’t found a good solution yet (can’t afford private school or quitting my job to homeschool). Luckily, he has a great before/after program that lets him move a LOT. We compensate with as much outdoor time as possible and lots of downtime with the family.
    Homework for a 5/6-year-old is time-consuming and counter-productive and takes time away from family and play. SIGH

  20. My daughter gets one math worksheet a week in Kindergarten. Aside from the fact that I suck at keeping track of it, she likes it.And maybe I’m just a jerk, but I do not think it is unreasonable to think a 5-year-old should be able to refrain from “freaking out” when he doesn’t get what he wants.

  21. @Brooke, we get homework every night except for Fridays. It consists of both language and math homework, and it takes at least 45 minutes to an hour to complete a night.One math worksheet a week sounds like heaven.

  22. @meggiemoo, ugh. We also technically are supposed to read 20 min each day, but I hesitate to call that homework. That’s more like bedtime stories.

  23. Yeah, totally. We read every day, but that’s fun. It’s the writing that’s hard for my son.Kinder!!! [shaking fist at sky]
    I just don’t want the spark for learning extinguished before it’s even gotten going.

  24. I totally agree with others about growing kids up too soon. It has been shown that kids in preschool do better throughout school life. HOWEVER, I think it’s a post hoc argument to say that it is because you push early academics. Especially for kids that are already in-their-heads-worried-anxious etc, like my son.Our solution–Waldorf. There is great learning going on, but no 3 R’s til 1st grade. The kids are fully on par with peers (or better) by 3rd grade, but not stressed out. Just being kids. AND they don’t sit in chairs all day–not even up through 8th grade. It’s just not natural for any of us humans.
    Also–they don’t have computers at my son’s school until 8th grade–again, within a year, they’re on par with peers. And many of their parents make the equivalent commitment at home.
    Anyway, just my experience FWIW.

  25. Homework for a kindergartener is homework for a parent (really, are there kids that can do this unsupervised?). I already did kindergarten and don’t want to do it again.Once at AskMoxie, someone suggested just not doing it….what’s going to happen? Well, I know that at pick up the teacher hounds the parent for the homework. I don’t need that. Neither does my kid. Sigh.

  26. @SarcastiCarrie – congrats on the BABY!Re: “academic” preschools, I think we have a tendency to be academic-phobic here in the US. I’m not saying every 2-3yo (or even most) needs academics, but their whole world is about learning new things through play, including “academic” things like numbers and letters.
    We moved our 2.5yo from totally play-based daycare to a Montessori preschool where they introduce letters, letter sounds and start having her use a pencil, etc. It suits her ridiculously well. She LOVED it from day 1.
    I’m not going to apologize for being one of “those parents” who felt like my 2yo did actually need more structure to her day. All of the “work” periods are actually just play to her.
    If it’s not fun for the kid anymore (or the parents), THEN it’s not the right fit. And maybe some kids don’t do well with the structure of a particular preschool.
    But not every kid needs a completely academic-free preschool, like the Internets would have us believe.
    Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine.

  27. @ARC, I’m with you on that – also had a kid who adored Montessori- getting her own school “journal” the day she turned 4 was such a wonderful moment; but I think she would have hated worksheets and rows of desks at that age.But I was very glad that our kindergarten bucked the district standards and didn’t assign homework beyond 15 minutes of shared or independent reading per night.
    Now that Mouse is at an experimental school that manages to be academically challenging without assigning any homework at all, I feel really blessed. I haven’t commented on this thread because, despite having a great time at circus camp over Spring Break, Mouse was incredibly eager to get back to school. This time will be exhausting because I don’t quite know how to handle an almost-8-year-old who doesn’t know how to pace herself on a project, but we and the school are learning our way along.

  28. @ARC – I agree with you. I have been doing the rounds looking at the pre-Ks in the area over the past few months, and several have said some variety of, “We don’t push reading or academics”. Ok, it’s fine not to push, but there seems to be an underlying thesis that kids really hate learning and school and should be protected from it. I think kids love learning and are excited when they can read and have an additional tool to help them decipher the world, and I don’t see why I should prevent them.

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