Forget Your Child - Are YOU Ready for Kindergarten?
If you are one of the many frightened, stressed-out, tearful parents who will be dropping their child off at school and leaving them for the first time, here are 7 tips for you (plus 5 major No-No's) to help you survive your first day of Kindergarten.
- Grow Up: Yes, You
Constantly bemoaning the fact that little Janie is becoming a big girl will not change the fact that she is. She is doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing: growing up, learning, moving forward. Let her. She cannot become a fully functioning child, adolescent, adult with a set of weepy parents agonizing over her every step. You have both worked for five years toward this milestone. Celebrate!
- Talk It Out
A big mistake so many parents make is in underestimating their child's ability to comprehend and process information. Children are intuitive, thoughtful, imaginative people and questions are always more scary than the answers that follow. Take advantage of orientation days and the fact that the schools are occupied with working administrators even before the school year gets under way. Walk them through their new environment so that first day is familiar, not foreign. And answer all questions honestly; don't fudge. Kids have built-in lie detectors.
- Watch Your Mouth
It is natural for you to be talking – and be honest, whining – about this upcoming benchmark to every person you know, every check-out clerk you meet. Just try not to do it in front of your child. Let them be excited. You be a walking Kleenex out of earshot.
- Choices, Choices
While you may think it is easier to simply make your way through the school supply aisle as quickly as possible (OK, it is), let your new kindergartner hold his list and choose his own crayons, markers, lunchbox, etc. You will reinforce that he is ready for more grownup endeavors that require decision making. So if he agonizes for 10 minutes over what color school box to buy, let him. If he is happy with his choices, he won't be able to wait to get them to school and show them off.
- Static Cling
- No Child Left Behind
The dominant real concern your child will have is how they will get back to your loving embrace at the end of their day. Don't freak out. It would be difficult to find a school where there is not a rock solid program for ensuring your little one gets to the proper bus or carpool line for pick up each afternoon. Schools face this responsibility with utmost seriousness and are rigid in their rules. So explain to your child that each bus has a number and they will probably wear a card pinned to their clothes the first week or so, until they get comfortable with the routine. And if you will be picking them up in the carpool line, assure them that the teachers will stay with the children until each one is picked up.
- Lights, Camera, Action
The big day is here, the camcorder is charged and your child is wearing her backpack to breakfast. Let excitement be the watchword! Children take all their cues from their parents and will walk into that school mirroring YOUR emotions. So smile for the camera, rehearse your lines ahead of time and play your part – that of adoring yet confident parent of an adorable yet confident kindergartner.
Despite all efforts to project joy and excitement about starting school, some children are naturally more clingy than others. Talk about the first day, and while being matter-of-fact, make it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that you cannot stay. Talk about how proud you are of him. Tell her how much fun she is going to have. Talk about eating lunch and snacks at school. You will be amazed how eating away from you is a huge attraction for a child. If your child needs an extra boost, have him help prepare a special treat for the entire class that he can present to the teacher when he goes in.