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Toddlers in Montessori School

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: I have started my two-and-a-half-year-old son in Montessori school. He screams and cries each and every day, no matter what I do or say! He goes for only a couple of hours a day, but it's so hard to leave him when he's throwing himself on the floor. Am I pushing him into this situation too early? Or is it that he is so used to being with me, that he is having separation issues? Please help!

A: Forcing your son to attend school now could be damaging to his future attitude toward school. He simply may not be ready for school. He may not have developed the independence to handle separation from you.

We don't know how long your son has been attending school. You do need to realize, however, that few young children feel at home immediately in a school setting. It's always a good idea to give them a few weeks to adjust. If your child still doesn't feel comfortable by then, you should consider taking him out of school.

Before making a decision, be sure to talk to your son's teacher. You may discover that he settles down fairly quickly after you leave and participates happily in the activities. If this is the case, you both need to work on handling separation better to avoid the daily trauma.

Your child's teacher should have solid suggestions, as she has probably encountered this situation many times. Sometimes, it helps for children to be taken to school by another family member or with another child in the same class. You might also stay with him for a while and help him get started on an activity before saying goodbye.

If your child truly does not seem ready for school at this time, it's best to withdraw him from the program. Remember, young children change very rapidly, so he may be eager to attend school in just a few months. You can help him on the road to independence by giving him the opportunity to make short visits to the homes of relatives and friends with young children. Be sure to stay with him for the first visits until he becomes comfortable.

Learn more: Connecting with Your Caregiver.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


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