Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I Think About: Surviving Kindergarten

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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.

 Thanks, Shell!


  1. Geez...this post just made me cry. WHY??? I have no idea. A whole lot of trust is needed to let kiddos go for seven hours a day. I'm nervous, for sure. And I think it is going to be so hard on Simeon to have Eli gone all day long. :( I'm so excited for him and I think he will love school. But it will change our lives for sure. And I'm pretty fond of my life right now. Hahah!

  2. Great advice!

    Communication is definitely important but parents can't get upset if every note/email doesn't get a book in response.

  3. I have a lot of foreboding about kindergarten, but it isn't because my son will be gone all day (he's been gone longer in preschool several times this summer). It has more to do with how he will challenge every situation and has yet to distinguish what times are appropriate for certain behaviors and what times aren't.

    I think the administrators and I will be in touch, because honestly, I feel kindergarten is TOO structured now. I went to all day and we had three recesses and a nap time. We learned math with the in-classroom grocery store, we drew, and we occasionally sat at our desks to write.

    And still we learned.

    They get one short recess now and my child is active. It does not bode well.

    I will miss him too, and his sister will likely miss him more, which means more playdates for her.

    Now we she starts school and no one is around, I might need the tissue (the only school supply that is not ridiculous).

    Great post. Here from PYHO.

  4. 3 weeks here... But since she has gone to preschool for two years I think the bus is more of a big deal! Great list...

  5. :gulp:

    Lillian is so excited about it - there's been a countdown in place since the start of this month. I'm glad she loves to learn so much and can't wait to hear about all the fun things she gets to do and all the friends she is making. I just get a little emotional thinking about how fast she's growing up.

    I do love the school she's slated to go to though and the teacher is amazing (I put in a request for Mrs. C). I know she's going to have the best year.

    Thanks for the do's and don'ts! Now my only question is - pencil boxes. Not on the supply list but should I get her one anyway? :)


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