Erika turned 4 this year, which means she will be in Kindy next year. Her cousin was starting swimming lessons and it was on a Friday and we thought it would be great if they could go together. So an agreement was made for my sister-in-law (SIL M) to take them to the pool.
Unfortunately, Erika was very distressed to be at swim class. She was afraid of the teacher. Her cousin, O, was reticient to start but he was OK by the end of the class. She would cry when asked to do anything by the teacher, and not do it. She did however enjoy the water.
I hoped that it would settle by the next week but it was much of the same. SIL M mentioned that of all the children at the pool, only Erika was the one who was crying and wailing and you could hear it all throughout the swimming complex. Every other child was enjoying themselves in the water. I was ashamed, and started to worry because if Erika doesn't obey her teacher in swim class, what will happen when she goes to school?
On the third week, my other sister-in-law took the kids to swim class. And Erika refused to get into the pool, so SIL J sat with her the whole time outside the pool letting her dangle her feet into the water. SIL J said that Erika just needed more time to get used to it all, but I felt like she was going backwards rather than forwards. I made the decision then that Erika had to go to Pre-school.
I searched around and found that there was an opening in the preschool/childcare not far from my place - the one that had dropped flyers in my letterbox before. I went there with Erika to check out the place and enquire about their facilities - I met the teacher, who was a lovely gentle looking muslim girl with two kids of her own, who encouraged me to put her in the class and reassured me that even though there would be crying, it would be best for Erika to learn now to cope. I signed up and Erika was going to start the following week.
The first day, I took her and Erika cried and cried. She cried for a long time, and refused to eat her lunch and only very reluctantly let the teacher, Miss P, take her to the toilet. All the other children had nice little photo journals of their first day with about 4 pictures, Erika only had 2 because she refused to participate. Miss P told me that at rest time Erika refused to lie in her cot, but come time to get up she refused to get up, saying she was tired. My contrary little daughter, oh dear. When I came to pick her up she started crying and we went home and Miss P told me it would get better.
On the second day she was a little better, ate her lunch. My hubby said he felt bad leaving her there, but it had to be done. And when he picked her up she was playing with the other children, but she still cried when she went to school but didn't cry for as long.
Then at swim class that week, Erika was different. She let the teacher do things with her and she actually laughed. That was a big difference from the week before. And she was in the pool at least trying to follow some of the instructions, but not very well - yet.
So the next week at school, I took her again and she complained all morning saying she didn't want to go to school. When I took her, she cried but as soon as I left she stopped. I keep forgetting to sign her in, a habit I have to improve. She was good, Miss P said, except at tea time she took her biscuit and threw it on the floor and stepped on it. When I came to pick her up, she was playing on the floor with the other teacher with some other children. She was stacking and lining up model dinosaurs. So then I took her and asked her to wave goodbye to her teachers and she did. Miss P said that Erika has not yet greeted her, and I hope that will be remedied in a few weeks.
In swimming this week, she had improved in leaps and bounds. SIL M has videos of Erika not only floating on her back, but also said that Erika allowed the swim instructor to pick her up and put her in the water, which she would never have done before. And Erika was doing all sorts of activities with the teacher (there are only 4 students per class, and each has their own turn with the teacher) - such as floating, using floating devices. I even asked Erika about swim class and she told me she didn't put her head inside the water, she was too scared. But looking at the videos I was so amazed, that my little girl had come so far.
So in the end, I think that going to preschool made a huge difference for my daughter. I never realised that she would change so much in a few weeks. Now I am not worried about her attending school anymore, I think she'll be ok.