My daughter is starting kindergarten.
She’s my oldest child which means she is my first child to enter public school, so this is new territory for me. Uncharted waters. One may think that for someone in my position this transition would be no big deal.
I am a kindergarten teacher.
I’ve taught kindergarten for nine years, so it’s a big part of my everyday life. So many precious little ones have entered my classroom ready to begin a brand new adventure. So many mothers have entered my classroom trusting me with their most prized possessions.
Honestly, my teaching experience doesn’t make this any easier for me because none of those children have been my child.
I’ve never been the mother of a kindergartner.
I recently asked my daughter how she felt about starting kindergarten. She paused for a moment before answering. Then she said, “I feel scared, but excited too.” Her answer stopped me in my tracks because I could relate to her 100%.
Why? Because it’s exactly how I’m feeling. I’m so incredibly excited for her because I know first-hand how amazing kindergarten is and how much fun it’s going to be for her.
I’m also scared.
Scared because I also know first-hand how uncomfortable, frightened, and sad children can feel when starting this new chapter in their lives.
As her mother, the thought of her having even an ounce of those feelings breaks my heart. As a kindergarten teacher, I know that even though children may experience these feelings, it’s all part of their transition.
These feelings put them outside of their comfort zone. Being outside of their comfort zone gives them the opportunity to gain independence. The opportunity to learn and grow on their own. These feelings are inevitable. There is nothing we can do to stop them from happening. But they are our babies and having them go through these new experiences can put us outside of our own comfort zones. And let’s face it. No mother wants to be put outside of her comfort zone, especially when it comes to her children.
So I’m using what I know to encourage her feelings of excitement, but also prepare her for those feelings of being scared. And to prepare myself as well. If our little ones feel confident and prepared to make this transition, then we can feel confident about having to let them go.
As both a kindergarten teacher and a mother of a kindergartner, I can offer you some guidance to make the start of this new adventure as positive and seamless as possible:
1. Allow your child to be a part of the preparation.
Take them to the store school supply shopping, don’t do it all online. Let them choose their favorite color folder or notebook and choose their scissors and markers. At this age, it’s a big part of “back to school” and another new experience they can do with you.
2. Start a new tradition.
Whether it’s a first day picture that you repeat year after year or a special first day of school breakfast. Start some fun and exciting new first day of school traditions.
3. Treat day one like you will every other day of school.
A morning routine from the beginning can help establish the expectations of each school day. Maybe you’ll want to start with a checklist like this.
4. Don’t linger.
If you’re dropping your child off at school, make it quick. I know that can be hard, but trust me. The longer you linger, the harder it can be for them to say goodbye.
5. Smile, mama!
No matter how nervous you may be feeling. No matter how close the tears are to falling. Smile from ear to ear!
In the words of Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”
Kindergarten, here she comes!
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