Two years ago, I was a new Kindergarten Mom! My daughter was 4 1/2 years old and off to Junior Kindergarten she went. She was my first born. It was a very difficult day for me!
Last year, my daughter was 5 1/2 a seasoned pro at Kindergarten and off to Senior Kindergarten she went with butterflies in her belly.
This year, my daughter is 6 1/2 and she is starting Grade ONE! She will be going to school every day Monday to Friday. She is growing up. She is slightly nervous and very excited and for different reasons than when she was going into JK, I am nervous all over again. She’s a little bird, flying from the nest out into the woods all by herself.
But I digress, this post isn’t about Grade One, it’s about Kindergarten, a child’s very first introduction to “real” school. Whether it’s full days every day, full days ever other day or half days ever day, it is a transition. Whether a child has gone to daycare or stayed at home up until this point, it is a transition.
Your child will be just fine! Honest!
I taught Kindergarten from 1999-2005. I taught in two very different schools, two very different communities. I’ve seen it all when it comes to first days of Kindergarten!
Here is my advice (I’m not an expert, this is just an opinion!)…
You need to be strong for your child. Although you may be a nervous, freaking out wreck, you need to stay strong! Hold it together until your child can no longer see you.
Encourage your child as much as you can to enter the classroom without you. I used to talk to my Kindergarten parents about how difficult it will be to say goodbye, but when you linger, it makes their transition to school without you that much more difficult. If they know that you are going to come in for a few minutes or if they know that you promised to stay in the playground for a few minutes, that provides your child enough of an “out” as soon as they feel that tiny bit overwhelmed.
Reassure your child about when and where you will see them again. Better yet, show them exactly where you will be waiting for them when school is finished.
Give your child a tiny momento that is special that they can keep in their backpack to know that you are thinking of them. Explain to them how important this little something is and that you want it to stay in their backpack to be safe, but it is there to remind them of how much you love them and that you will see them at the end of the school day. For me, this was a tiny pewter angel. My daughter kept in in her backpack all year long for 2 years with the exception of one time that she gave it to me because she wanted me to know that she was thinking of me throughout a particular experience that I had to undergo.
Pack an encouraging note or a sticker or something special in their snack/lunch bag that will make them smile.
Breathe – it is important that both you and your child breathe! Have you ever heard of balloon breathing? It is an exercise that people who have asthma do in order to relax. You calmly and slowly taking a long, deep breath in through your nose and very slowly let it out through your lips, all the way out. Do this exercise over and and over again whenever you feel overwhelmed. It helps to keep you calm.
On the first day of school, make an arrangement to have a coffee date with a friend if you can so that you have someone who can take your mind off of your child being at school. Pack your day filled with many errands or meetings in order to keep you busy and away from focusing on your child at school.
Be proud! I know I don’t have to tell you this, but when you feel sad or overwhelmed, just think about how proud of you are of your little one! They are doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is growing up! Feel good inside that your child will be just fine and by the end of September, they will never even think about what life was like before Kindergarten.
IF your child is one of those few that has a particular difficult time parting from you. As much as you can (and this isn’t easy – I had to do it!), trust your Kindergarten teacher! Follow their lead and trust them. They have likely done this a time or two. Your child, if they are crying or freaking out about leaving you, will cry and freak out whether you are there or not (more than likely) – so follow the teacher’s lead. Your child will be safe and they will calm down, often within minutes of settling into the classroom. Remember, it makes it a far more difficult transition for both of you if you linger on. They will begin to expect this every day and it will become an ongoing battle.
At the end of the day, you are the parent and YOU know your child best. Regardless of the situation, they will transition into Kindergarten – maybe the first day and they won’t look back or maybe a couple of weeks in, but they will do it! Every child is different.
If you have any questions/concerns/experiences/difficulties that you would like to share with me about your child entering Kindergarten, please feel free to contact me! I’d love to “chat” or provide you with another opinion.
I have also written a few other articles about Kindergarten parents that you may wish to read as this is a topic that I am very passionate about, having spent a number of years as a Kindergarten teacher and having two children of my own complete Kindergarten.
Kindergarten Parents Support Group
Getting Ready for Full Day Kindergarten
Preparing for Kindergarten – Part 1
Preparing for Kindergarten – Part 2
A Kindergarten Visit – Who Needs More Preparation, Mom or Child?
For all NEW Kindergarten Moms and Dads, This is For YOU!
Back to School – Mommy, I Don’t Want to Go