School starts in two weeks.
No, I'm not ready for it. I know some caregivers count down the seconds until kids board the bus but I'm not one of those people. I like my kids home. I like play dates at the park, lazy Tuesday mornings, and eating lunch in the tree house.
Although I don't want my first grader (What? When did that happen? Sheesh!) to go back to school, I feel like I'm at least emotionally prepared. My friend Sarah, on the other hand, has a kindergartner so this "going to school" business is new territory.
Sarah suggested I do a little write up on how to survive your baby going to kindergarten. Here are my "parent to a kindergartner" do's and don'ts.
DO BUY EXTRA TISSUE
Sending your child to school for the first time can be tough and you might get a bit choked up. It's okay. Don't feel like you have to stuff it. Tell your child how much you will miss them and if you cry, grab a tissue.
But don't keep those extra tissues to yourself. Buy 4 extra boxes of Kleenx for your child's teacher because the "2 boxes of tissue" on your shopping list is ridiculous. Those tissues will be gone by the end of October.
Of course I meant whine. It is okay to let your child know that s/he/ze will be missed. It is NOT okay to be so co-dependent that you can't survive without your child. Share your emotions but not to the extent your child will feel guilty about leaving you for the day. As sad as you might be, this is an exciting day (year). Don't ruin it by whining (or by wining).
DO SOMETHING SPECIAL
That first morning is bound to be a bit rough so try to think of how you can make it special. Maybe celebrate with a candle on pancakes or with a special photograph by the front door. Of course if the morning is too hectic, plan something special for the end of that first day. You could let the kindergartner pick dinner, play a board game together, head to a park, or read a special book.
Aside from doing something special for the kindergartner, do something special to commemorate the day for yourself. Go get a hot drink or pedicure. Read for 15 minutes. Celebrate you.
Whatever you do, find a special way to celebrate the day for both of your sakes.
DON'T GO OVERBOARD
There is a difference between going the extra mile and going crazy. Do something special but don't plan a huge overwhelming celebration complete with guests. Your school kid might be tired at the end of the day so make it special but abstain from adding more stress. Sometimes more is less.
GET TO KNOW YOUR TEACHER
There are some teachers who don't want you in their classroom. At least I've heard rumors of this. From my experience as a former teacher and student, this is a lie. Teachers would love for you to know them and to help out in class. So, if you are nervous about where your child will be all day, volunteer to help out. Even if you don't have a Ph.D. in 5 year olds I'm pretty sure you can read a kids book, organize cubbies, or make photocopies.
Parent-teacher communication is a great thing AND it's a two-way street (so if you aren't hearing enough, it's YOUR job to reach out and call/e-mail/visit). However, over-communicating is tough on everyone. You do NOT need to e-mail your teacher each time your kid has a tummy-ache, a loose tooth, a bad dream, or hole in his/her/hir sock. Do NOT expect your teacher to contact you every time there is a bleeding cuticle, a job well done, or a case of the hiccups.
Your teacher should contact you if there is a behavior issues, missing school work, noteworthy injury (nosebleed=no noteworthy, head injury=noteworthy). You should contact the teacher if you have legitimate concerns about health (Junie has a bad cough this morning. Please keep her in at recess), schoolwork, or relationships.
Remember, your child's teacher has 20+ other kids in class. So reach out, but not too much.
EXPECT YOUR KIDDO TO BE TIRED
Kindergarten, especially full day, is exhausting for your child. Don't be surprised--or angry--if your child comes home cranky, whiney, or mildly disobedient. Although your child eat a protein-rich snack and to take a breather before dishing every detail of the day or jumping into play time.
I know there is a trend for kids to be a genius in every subject, a savant in all this artistic and musical, and an Olympian in every sport but I'm NOT on board with this trend. Children need to be children. They need to play and get dirty and have time that is unscheduled. This is especially true of kindergartners who are likely going to be more routined now than ever.
Don't exacerbate the problem by enrolling your children in too many extra activities. At most, do one out-of-school activity for your child. This will help him/her/hir to have some much needed downtime to play and rest up!
What I think is Kindergarten can be great but is a lot emotionally for parents. As a parent, you need to make this time as exciting as possible without overdoing it. Oh, and I also think your kids should get at least 9-10 hours of sleep before a school day but that's a whole other blog topic.