Steps to Take Some of the Sting out of Starting Kindergarten
Life is full of “firsts.” Your first love, your first car, your first job, your first home and many more inaugural milestones along the way. As a new parent, there is nothing that can prepare you for your first child and all the internal turmoil that comes with this new responsibility. And just when you think you have finally mastered the art of parenting in all of its complexities, it’s time to send your child off to kindergarten. You put on a good front that you are ready for this step but you secretly begin imaging this child that you held in your arms will be driving off to college in the foreseeable future. Today, many Great Hearts families are feeling the triumphs and the traumas of their first day of kindergarten.
While the transition to kindergarten can be disruptive to your child and their known world, most kindergartners thrive with the new environments, new friends and new routines that they encounter at school. That doesn’t mean your child won’t have momentary emotional breakdowns caused by anxiety and exhaustion that a school day can bring. Kindergarten teachers warn that this will happen during the first several weeks as your child adjusts to the new rigor of school expectations. You may even find that your child falls asleep earlier in the evening. This is a natural reaction to a major life transition, especially in younger children.
Today was a big milestone in your family. Your five-year-old took another step toward independence. Your kinder student walked the halls proudly with his or her backpack (that might just be a little bit too big) resting on their shoulders, showed their brand-new friends what’s inside their lunchbox (and maybe even traded a snack or two), played with classmates on the playground, and learned their way around campus.
“Meet the Teacher” Nights are also helpful for incoming kindergartners and parents alike in alleviating undue stress. Students can find the location of their classroom, desk, and cubby space. This special time allows you and your child to meet the teacher and support staff individually. This will familiarize your child with all the new adults that will be a big part of their life. As a parent, you have the opportunity to begin making positive relationships with other Great Hearts families as well as the staff. These connections become invaluable as you collaboratively partner together in your child’s academic career.
All this preparation culminates to the first day of school. You may have remained strong through the whole process. But it is now time to allow yourself to feel the whirlwind of emotions that all parents feel on the first day. When asked if there tears on the first day of school, kindergarten teachers replied, “Yes, there were a lot of tears, but not many from the kids.” Many of our academies have set up special accommodations especially for kindergarten parents on the first day to help ease some of the emotional hardship. Parents are usually surprised and caught off guard when the tears begin flowing. But rest assured, this too is a normal reaction to a major life transition. It will get easier… until the next major life transition comes along.