I'm wondering how to figure out why my 4 year old son no longer likes preschool. He is quiet and doesn't say why he doesn't like school when asked about it.

My 4 year old son started preschool in August and liked it a lot.

At parent teacher conferences I heard he was quiet and mostly watched other kids.

4 months later he now says he doesn't like preschool and is being disruptive. For example when other kids are working he may lay on their work area or hover very close to them. The other kids do not like this.

There have been many changes we started carpooling about a month ago, his mom started working so now he is at Grandmas about 20 hours a week.

  • 1
    I'd start by talking to the school...namely the teacher and counselors. See if they have any insights or observations.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 20:08

3 Answers 3


He may not consciously know why he doesn't like it, or may not be able to remember when he is not in the moment. It would probably help to observe him yourself at preschool or in another playgroup setting.

One way to help kids that age open up is to mimic their behavior and see how they interpret it. We found this out by accident by trying to show our kids how annoying some things they do are. Instead of getting annoyed themselves they say things like, "It's okay, Daddy. I'll play with you so you can be happy." For some reason, talking about other people is easier for them than being introspective. Reading a storybook with him about a child who doesn't like school might help for the same reason.


He probably misses his parents. With all the changes in his life he is acting out by being disruptive. As well he may know subconsciously if he tells you he doesn't like school he will get attention.

First thing to do is explain to him what is going on in his life. Discuss that mommy has to go back to work and that he has to go to school.

Second thing to do is give him as much face time with you as you can. And I am talking quality face time! Put away all the electronics and phones (a very difficult thing to do in this day and age) and don't let anything interrupt you. Demonstrate for him appropriate play through playing with him and afterward ask him what was fun about what he did.

Third thing to do is at the dinner table. Everyday have each person at the table (including you) say their best thing of the day. We are all prone to complaining (welcome to human nature) and this pushes us to state out loud something we liked today. We do this in my house and it is terrific. At the beginning you may want to ask the teachers for some ideas of what they did that day in school so you can help prompt him as to what he may have enjoyed.

  • 1
    very good advice! The quality time is important - it is often difficult to concentrate on the activity with the child, but it is absolutely worth it. We made similar experience with our 4 year old son. And it happens really fast that in such a busy life you get stuck in a "who-wants-to-take-care-of-our-child-next"-mentality and spend less time with the child as possible. It is very convenient to leave the child with the grandparents, but it also is important to spend time together as 1parent+child and as a family. The positive experience for dinner also sounds like a great idea!!
    – BBM
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 19:55
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    We often do the part at dinner time about sharing the best part of your day. Except that we also add in sharing the worst part of your day. This helps the kids realize that everyone, even parents can have a difficult day.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 3:15
  • @kibbee I don't think sharing the worst part is a good idea at the dinner table. complaints come out all day both from you and your kids, you don't need to ensure they know you sometimes have bad parts of your day, they know that by default. Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 22:28

Just from my experience:

My daughter started disliking her creche at 3 when one of the caretakers told her off for not sleeping. She never forgave the woman and eventually it got so bad that we had to take her to a different place. She would cry every time we dropped her off and it just got very ugly.

By the age of 4, she was in kindergarten and an early learning program. She started disliking the kindergarten program by about 4.5 as I think she found it to childish and much preferred the more school-like early learning program.

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