Could we keep our daughter out of Pre-Primary one day a week next year?

So at dinner the other night, my husband Adam suddenly raised this issue which sort of knocked me around a little bit. But not in a bad way.

He said, “Next year, when (Miss 4) goes to Pre-Primary, I don’t want her to have to go to school 5 days a week. There’s no need for a child that age to have to be at school so many days a week.” That sentence, while initially shocked me, got me thinking. Does a 5 year old really need to be at school 5 days a week?

At the moment, Kindergarten runs 5 days a fortnight. 2 days one week, then 3 days the next week. I know that the weeks that she goes to kindy 3 days, she comes home absolutely exhausted on the last day.

Next year, she would have to do 5 full days a week. Many adults go to work the same number of days and same number of hours. Does she really need to be there every day? If she went 4 days a week next year, would she be missing out on much? I mean, it’s only kindergarten.

My first reaction was hell, I’d love to have a break from her everyday. Then I realised, do I really want that break? I work 3 nights a week, which requires me to leave home as soon as she finishes school. So that means next year I only get to spend quality time with her 4 nights a week. Out of that time, I still need to spend quality time with my other three children. 2  (my teenagers) of which spends a week with me and the other week with their dad. And of course, there’s the cooking, cleaning and other chores on top of that.

What exactly will she be missing out if she misses one day of pre-primary each week? I know they teach literacy and numeracy, social skills and motor skills like painting etc. Would she be missing out on much or will she still be able to learn all of those things at home in her daily life? I do most things with her except anything to do with glitter, paint or play dough. 

According to Vittra, “In Sweden, attendance at school is compulsory for all children aged 7-16. The age when children may start school is flexible: a child can start school as a 6, 7 or 8-year-old. Compulsory school is free of charge.”, unlike school here in Australia, where it is compulsory at Pre-Primary (and voluntary charges).

Adam’s point of view comes from a place where he thinks children that age shouldn’t have to be away from home so many days a week. “It’s too much for a little child.”

I agree with him 100%. And I think we will have to head to the principal’s office to have a chat with her to discuss what the ramifications of our daughter if she misses school once a week. We will speak to her at the end of the year. I will keep you all posted with this.

What do you think? Do you think we should keep Miss 4 out of school once a week next year at Pre-primary to spend time with the family? Or do you think it’s important for her to conform with the rest of society?

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Please Let My Shy Daughter Be Who She Is, She Doesn’t Need A Psychologist

It was the start of the third week of kindergarten. Miss 4’s teacher came up to me and whispered, “Sharon, may I please have a quiet word with you?” Omg. What’s happened… What has my Miss 4 done?

Teacher: “It’s been a couple of weeks now since school has started, and Miss 4 is still really shy. She doesn’t really talk to anyone and she ALWAYS wants to be last in line to wash her hands before morning tea and lunch. And she doesn’t really want to play with others. Is there something we should be worried about?”

Me: “No, I don’t think we should be worried… This is who Miss 4 is. She’s shy, a lot like her dad.”

Teacher: “Well I just thought she would be a bit more sociable by now.”

Me: “Why would you think that? She’s a shy kid and she’s actually really OK with her own company.”

Teacher: “Regardless, would you like me to write you a referral for Miss 4 to see a psychologist anyway?”

Regardless. So everything I’ve just told you, you’ve disregarded. 

Me (trying to be as polite as I can): “No, thank you. If she cries every morning because she’s afraid to go to school, if she sits in a corner rocking back and forth with her thumb in her mouth… Then, maybe yeah. But Miss 4 looks forward to school everyday. And she’s not crying in class. So no, this is who she is, and I trust she will open up in her own time.”

And just as I kissed Miss 4 goodbye, her teacher poked her head out of the door and said, “Remember, you can always ask me to write you a referral!”

Ok, NOW she’s really annoyed me. But I graciously thanked her and walked away instead. 

Miss 4 is shy. You could describe her as painfully shy. ALL my friends will tell you that Miss 4 still won’t speak to them. There’s only a tiny handful of friends where Miss 4 have only started answering their questions, and they’re friends of mine that I catch up with, very regularly. 

When she has one or two girl friends that come over for a play, they have an absolute ball. They squeal with laughter, chase each other around the backyard, play dress ups and everything else that little girls do. 

But when she’s in a large group, like at a friend’s birthday party, nope, just nope. She’ll hang on to my shirt BUT she’s not crying. She’s happy to hang on to my shirt, and watch the other kids play. Kids would come up to her and say hi, and she would smile at them and then hide behind me again. But she would insist we stay at the party from start to finish. Because she wants to watch her friends play games, dance and sing happy birthday. All while holding on to my shirt. 

And when we get home, I’ll ask if she enjoyed the party, she would always say “Yes!”

That’s Miss 4. She’s shy and can be painfully shy. But not all the time. She’s funny, loud and boisterous but only to a very select few. Her dad is exactly the same. If we have to be in a group full of people, he can get very quiet. It takes time for him to open up to others but when he does, he’s also funny, loud and boisterous. 

After the ‘talk’ I had with her teacher, I wondered…. What if I was a first time mum? What if I was still going through postnatal depression? What if I had a really really bad night? What if I was on the verge of splitting up with my husband? How would I then react to a teacher who told me she thought my 4 year old needed to see a psychologist? 

Children are allowed to be shy. That’s a personality trait, right? Just like being funny, helpful, naughty, hardworking… Why can’t she be who she is? Would you suggest a hardworking kid to see a psychologist? My child isn’t lashing out in anger, she’s not hurting other kids. She’s happy to sit at the table and do her work quietly and build castles with wooden blocks. No she wouldn’t go up to another kid to ask if she would play with her, but if a kid goes up to her and holds her hand, there’s an 80% chance, my Miss 4 would go off and play with her. But, there’s a 20% chance, she’s not feeling too confident, or if there’s a big group of kids around her going nuts, or she just doesn’t want to, shouldn’t that be OK anyway? 

Not many have seen my Miss 4 the way my family sees her. But that’s okay, it used to frustrate me when she was a little younger, but I’ve learnt to embrace her personality. I’ve learnt that it’s not cool to force her talk to people she doesn’t want to. It goes against the grain of who she is. 

Now Miss 4 has been in school for 3 months. She still walks in quietly, writes her name quietly, then goes and builds a castle with wooden blocks on her own. I then give her a kiss and say goodbye and tell her I love her. Some days she’ll play with her friends, some days she just wants to do her own thing. Aren’t we all like that as adults? 

I’m no longer worried about her. I care for her, I’m sad for her, especially when she’s at birthday parties and sometimes I feel like she’s missing out on all the fun but those are MY feelings. She’s not upset, and she’s enjoying herself, within herself. And she’s happy. What more could I ask for from a shy girl?

I refuse to see shyness in my daughter as a negative trait. 

Read here The Blessings Of Shyness.