Starting kindergarten isn’t new in our household, but we sure do get a refresher this year.
Our youngest is starting kindergarten, and I’m amazed at how different my approach to this milestone is compared to when our daughter entered kindergarten. Fear, anxiety, worry, tears… you name the emotion and I was going through it when our daughter was preparing to enter kindergarten. There was this series of hurdles I found I had to overcome, and each time I got through one, a new one would pop up!
Fast forward to today, as we prepare for our son to enter kindergarten and I’m shocked (confused maybe) as to why I am not feeling any of those same emotions.
It’s possible that we now have comfort in our relationship with the school. It’s possible that we know his personality is strong enough to not care that he isn’t in the same class with any of his friends (seriously, we have four boys in our cul de sac going into kindergarten and he is the only one with a different teacher). It’s possible that he has the, “I’ll make more friends” attitude.
I certainly wouldn’t refer to myself as a “seasoned pro,” but since it is our second time around, here are some quick tips I have for parents with little ones starting kindergarten this fall:
- Don’t stress. Sounds simple right? But the truth is, stress doesn’t help at all, and there really isn’t a whole lot that you have to prepare for your child to enter into kindergarten.
- Don’t buy, “All the stuff.” What I mean is, there is no list of school supplies that you need to buy (in most school districts) upon entering kindergarten. A backpack, water bottle, and lunchbox will do just fine.
- Don’t let fear consume you. Letting your little one go to a full day program can often be a big change for everyone in the family. Letting them go into a school with kids all the way up to sixth grade is even scarier. In our experience, the kindergarteners are so closely monitored that they are never out of the sight of the educators.
Now, both of my kids spent the first year of their lives at my office with me, because I refused to send them anywhere (I might just slightly be a control freak). I truly couldn’t even blame it on first time parenting worries, since I was just as firm on this detail with our second. They both attended a daycare/preschool for a couple of years, which was made easier by the mere fact that is was six minutes door to door from office to daycare. And now they spend summers with us between home, excursions and the office.
So, needless to say, the amount of time they spent with us only added to my anxiety when our oldest child started kindergarten two years ago.
It’s incredible the weight that has lifted off my shoulders as we prepare for our second child to enter kindergarten. I have no stress, no worries, no questions. And while this may not be the case for everyone, what certainly makes it easier is our son has the same teacher that our daughter had. The theory goes that siblings tend to have the same teachers as they go through elementary school (I’m not sure how true it is and if this is true everywhere). But so far, we hope this is true and continues to be true as we’ve had the most caring, compassionate and dedicated educators I could wish for!
As I began recalling my previous emotions and comparing them to this upcoming year for us, I realized it’s important to remember that each kid has different emotions too as they approach their first day of kindergarten.
Is your child excited?
For some kids, this is just another day. A day where they get to make more friends as my son puts it. A day where they are getting ready to start school, which is something they hear so much about yet have not had the opportunity to experience. They may even walk a little taller with pride.
My tip: Embrace that! If you have fears, try to make sure they aren’t visible to your child. Remind them of what a terrific adventure they are about to embark on. Their educational journey is beginning, and it’s incredible how much they grow in that first year.
Is your child scared?
Believe it or not, this is a very typical feeling for kids. Not every child is over the moon excited to begin their first full day school experience. Many of them will be entering a classroom of kids or a teacher they have never met.
They will need to learn how to maneuver in a new environment and build new relationships. That can be intimidating for anyone.
My tip: Let them have these emotions, but take this as an opportunity for a discussion with them. Find out exactly why they are scared, and what you can do to help them overcome those fears.
For our family, I was lucky enough to have both of my kids excited to start kindergarten. Though my soon to be 2nd grader is another story, since all of a sudden she isn’t with her normal group of friends this year. Previously, we lucked out with experiences that made the transition seamless for us all.