My former life before Row consisted of getting up at the crack of dawn, packing a lunch and heading off to school. Teachers don’t say they’re going to work, they say they’re going to school. I had the honor of teaching Kindergarten for a little over 13 years. I’ve taught in new and old schools,rural and urban, bilingual and monolingual….you name it. I’ve taught in both Massachusetts and Texas. It was a challenge at times and rewarding everyday.In my last few years of teaching before deciding to stay home with Row I also got my Master’s in Educational Administration -principalship because I’m a bit of a boss.
One thing I do know about are the challenges parents are faced with in sending a child to school, especially the first child. First, you must understand that Kindergarten teachers are a special bunch. They love your babies and know they’re just that babies. Kindergarten teachers walk in the first day with different objectives than the other grades. The first week of school they are hoping for three and only three things. 1-That your child gets to school and in their classroom correctly. 2. That your child is fed. 3. That your child gets home. That is all that matters and the rest will fall into place.
If you’re sending your baby to school this year then this Ex-Kindergarten teacher has some tips for you!
1. Can we talk about bedtime? I know it’s the summer and your child is running amuck. You’re making memories! It’s great! Then reality hits. You want your child ready….so make a plan. Look at what time your child will need to get up to accommodate your work schedule and/or bus, car drop ff, walking time, etc…to school. Now count back eight hours or a little more. Let’s say you want your child going to bed at 8 instead of 9 every night no need to force them to go to bed super early the night before school and have a fight. Start bedtime ten minutes earlier or five minutes earlier every-night to ease them into it. Do the same in the morning-wake them 5-10 minutes earlier. This will save a lot of grief for the big day!
2. If your school offers school supply packs through the PTA or PTO-buy it! It’s not much more and it supports your school. They also deliver it to your child’s classroom! The teacher has the needed time to label everything and organize everything before the last minute. This will save you headaches! You bought the wrong construction paper or lined paper-not this time!
3. Go school shopping. Just because you bought supplies from the school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a special pencil box or pencils. Buy these small extras. Also your backpack and lunchbox. EVERY YEAR! I know it’s easy to save money on those two items by reusing them but it makes your child feel special and excited every year. I have to stress this also. If you’re a single parent or just plain struggling in this economy ask for help. Call the school and ask to speak to the school counselor-which by the way cannot disclose the information you tell them. They know and will happily direct you where you can get free school supplies for your child. Utilize it, that’s why it’s there. There is no shame, everyone has hard times but never choose school supplies over a bill or groceries-ask for help, nobody needs to know:)
4.Take the school tour and/or go to the meet the teacher event. This is a great way to let your child become more comfortable with their new surroundings with you by their side. Your teacher wants to meet you both! This allows your child to see their room and his or her face! And if you have to buy your own school supplies drop them off that night! Then you child doesn’t have to
bring lug them in on the first day. Now don’t just meet the teacher but go everywhere-the cafeteria, show them the line, the library, office, PE area, playground, and most importantly the bathroom closest to their classroom. Do you know how many children don’t know how to go in and lock the door by themselves? You’d be surprised. This is a stressful thing for children-not knowing where the bathroom will be.
5.Set up your routines for drop off and pick up everyday-bus, car, daycare, walking. Where will they go? Who’s getting them? It’s also important to set the classroom boundary line at this time. Repeat after me-I will NOT go past the classroom door. I WILL allow my child to walk in alone. WE know it’s hard-so hard. It doesn’t mean you’re never going in. There will be lots of opportunities. Set this boundary you won’t regret it.
Take a deep breath-it’s going to be ok. I read somewhere the hardest part about sending your child-especially your first or only-to school is that their life is starting. The life of their own. It’s no longer about just us as a family anymore. Their world is growing and we are nurturing them into the wonderful giving, caring, serving hearts our world needs. But it’s hard to let go of that hand. You can do this!