Milestone Monday: Is Your Toddler Different At School?

Is it a milestone to suddenly turn shy? To go from boisterous to bashful?

The other day I went to pick Fia up from preschool. I asked the director if she was the wildest one in her class. What she said made no sense to me.

“Fia? No, she’s probably the quietest one.”

Huh? Feral Fia? The one who never stops chatting at home? Who oozes personality and spunk? Who dances and climbs and twirls? Even the other day while we were sitting at dinner, she squeezed her eyes shut, put her hands in prayer position, and went into a yoga chant. Phil and I almost died laughing.

“Fia, where did you learn that?”

“From yoga at school!” she exclaimed.

I’ve seen her do downward dog and tree pose, but the chants blew me away. It was so damn funny.

The school situation has me baffled. They said that during free play, she usually just plays quietly with herself, reading books or coloring. During the structured activities she is with everyone else. But other times she’s kind of a loner.

They told me she often stands back and just watches the other kids; that she is an observer, not a participant. I don’t know why the thought of that breaks my heart, but it does. Is she shy? Scared? Not confident? This is a girl that for months couldn’t stop hugging every kid she met.

She’s 2 years and 7 months. Is this still the age of parallel play? Or is she insecure? This side of her is a mystery to me.

She only goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The teachers suggested we bump her up to 3 days in a row. Tue-Wed-Thur. Perhaps the repetition will make her more interactive with the other kids.

I have no doubt this is a great preschool. So it’s not that. Maybe my girl is just more subdued in unfamiliar situations? Or larger crowds? The other day our nanny had 6 kids over. Phil observed from his study that while all the other kids were running through the sprinklers, Fia just stood back and watched. She did that for 10 minutes. When she is one-on-one with a playdate, she is much more engaged. I’ve never seen her just stand back.

Should I tell our nanny and the school to pull her into the group more? Or is this something where you take a hands off approach and let her find her own way? Is going to preschool for 3 days in a row a wise choice, so it becomes more familiar? (It’s only from 9-1 pm).

I’m looking for advice from the moms who have been there before me. I don’t want to overstep my bounds with her, but I don’t want to ignore something either. Thoughts?

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  1. by Chrissy

    On July 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I don’t think it’s anything you should worry about! I taught Kindergarten for 6 years and I told a number of parents that their kids were quiet or shy or calm, and many of them looked at me like I was talking about another student!
    I think it shows a lot of confidence. She’s so comfortable and secure around you, her mom. She knows you’ve taught her about manners and how to behave in your absence that she knows that what she needs to do in school.
    Take pride in this behavior! This is indicative of your great parenting abilities!!! You go girl! LOL!

  2. by bev

    On July 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Looking up info on the child under 5, I find these comments: “Between 3 and 5 your child will approach other children and begin to play with them.”
    “By age 3 or 4 children spend more of their playtime interacting with each other.”
    I do not believe there is a problem when a 2 1/2 year old doesn’t get too involved with the group, esp when she is outgoing in more intimate settings.I wouldn’t expect an extra day at preschool to make the difference.She will grow into relationships soon enough. Now she is watching and learning.

  3. by Liza

    On July 10, 2012 at 7:54 am

    My almost 5 year old is the same. At home she is crazy (in a good way!) but at school, she is very quiet and disciplined. At first I struggled as I couldn’t understand why she was so different at school, but she has made some close friends, is doing well academically and is happy and very much enjoys school, so I figure there is nothing to worry about.

    I had never really thought about it the way Chrissy has put it, but after reading her comments, that does make a lot of sense.

  4. by Jill Cordes

    On July 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I love the comments here. And i love what you said Chrissy about her confidence! Good to know it’s all okay.

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