By Maile Carpenter
It would great if your child could tell you whenever he was unhappy at school, but you can't count on that — especially in preschool. So here are some ways to figure out what's really going on. Try not to get too concerned if your child seems unhappy the first few weeks of school. That time isn't easy for any child, so give him a chance to adjust to the new teacher, other kids, and the idea of going to school.
Spending just one hour in the classroom once a month will give you a read on your child's feelings about school. You'll also get a chance to see how the teacher runs the class. You'll also learn something about your child's relationships with the other kids in his class: Is he getting pushed around by someone with a chip on her shoulder? Is he having a hard time being accepted by a group he wants to join?
"The real key is communication," says Guy Strickland, author of Bad Teachers: The Essential Guide for Concerned Parents, even with a preschooler who can't engage in long conversations about school. Ask your child some simple questions: Did you have fun today? Who's your best friend in class? What did you make in class today? How do you like the teacher? If your child seems upset or nervous about discussing school or refuses to answer questions, there might be problem.
The teacher spends five days a week with your child. If your child suddenly seems unhappy at school or has problems with a group of friends, the teacher might know more about the situation than you do. For tips on communicating with your child's teacher, click here.
An occasional episode is common for most children, but if you notice a recurring problem, your child might be worried about something at school.
Your child develops unusual ticks such as nail biting, thumb sucking, hair pulling, or bed-wetting.
Your child stops talking about preschool or gets nervous when you bring up the teacher, students, or anything school related.
Your child is disinterested in preschool and no longer wants to go.
Kids are usually excited about returning to preschool or going to kindergarten. If your child is upset about returning to school in the fall, try to talk to him and find out why.
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