Thursday, August 19, 2010

School is Almost in Session

 Last spring, as the end of school approached, I started to dread the summer. For a while, I counted down the days until school.  Until today, I thought I was the only one in my household doing that. 

The first week of July, I noticed that Jackson started getting very clingy.  He watched everywhere I went, asked at least three times if I was going to "wait right there," and panicked if I left the room.  This past Sunday as we were getting ready to go to church, he said to me, "Mom, you can't leave Primary [the children's class]."  I worried and worried about him.  Separation Anxiety at six years old?  What was going on?

Yesterday I took him to his new school to meet his teacher.  As we climbed into the car, in a timid voice, Jackson stated, "Mom we have 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11 days until school.  I don't want to go to school."  It hit me then.  How could I have missed this? How could I think my child, the one who remembers dates like I remember how many cookies are left, had forgotten about school?  His anxiety about the new school year has been going on since the last day of school in May.  He has been worried all summer long.

Suddenly, I'm panicking inside, too.  Last year Jackson attended Transitional Kindergarten (also known as Special Kindergarten) - basically Kindergarten at a slower pace.  He excelled there.  This year I chose to keep him in Kindergarten because of his social skills - or lack thereof.  I debated and debated about where to send him to school, and I finally decided on a local charter school.  Fewer students=smaller class sizes, right?  I found out there are 30 students registered in his Kindergarten class.  30, really? In a Kindergarten class?  Yeah, Panic Attack.  The school is trying to recruit more students to hire another teacher or encourage some to go to the 3-day class.  Jackson needs and is ready for the 5 day/all day Kindergarten.

Over the last few days, I've been fretting and fretting about how he will handle school.  Will he be so lost that he hates it everyday?  Will he be brave enough to ask what he doesn't know?  Will he use the bathroom or have accidents (he has an irrational fear of new toilets)? How many tears will he cry? Will he learn to make friends, or will they shun him?  What will he do without me?

There, I said it.  I think he needs me.  I can't let go.  I want to let go, but can't.  How do I do this?  Jackson needs advanced warning.   School registration was chaotic with parents and kids noisily chatting in small, crowded spaces; and so he didn't get a clear idea of the school.  I have a few ideas.

  1. I'm going to call the school next week after it's started for the other grades and ask to take him around the school to see everything.
  2. Go to the bathroom and flush the toilet; let him practice going by himself.
  3. Teach him what he needs to do if he has to go to the bathroom, get a drink, etc.
  4. Remind him to take deep breaths when he's frustrated and perhaps teach him to squeeze the table or his feet if he is frustrated (usually he squeezes my hand hard to get the deep sensory stimulation that he needs).  
  5. Tell him that I love him and that he will be okay, and that it will be fun!
 I could use all the advice you've got.  What do you suggest?

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