How are you? I hope your weekend is chugging along nicely. My girls are halfway through their Kindergarten year (first year of real school) and it has been a sharp learning curve for us all. I have been reflecting a little on some of the massive and some of the not so massive changes I have seen since my girls have started school. I have also received questions and comments from other Mums about their kids starting school, so I thought this might be a fun post to do. Here is what I have learnt so far, it will be interesting to see how this list changes in the second half of the year.
- Kindergarten will be stressful for your little one and you. This might seem obvious but I can’t count the number of times I have heard “I cannot wait for my child to go to school, they are so excited and it is going to be so much easier on me/ them than daycare.” It might be/ it will be really awesome at times so I am not trying to be a negative nancy. However, a few parents warned me that starting school was quite hard on their little ones; they were quite stressed and very tired. I most definitely found this to be the case for my kids. This is not me telling you not be excited or positive about school – because I think you should be and so should your little one. But be realistic, even exciting, fun changes are somewhat stressful! Your role as a parent is taking a shift, but you still have to be very much involved in helping things go smoothly. They can still be loving school and be tired and stressed after school. On a really positive note if your child is going to a Public School then it will be a LOT cheaper than day care! 🙂
- Stay involved and stay informed. The level of daily communication that you have with your child’s teacher goes way down, compared to preschool and daycare. At preschool each day I had a chat with the girls teachers about how their day went. School teachers are very busy and unless there is a problem you will not get that level of connection and communication time. There are other ways to stay informed. Talk to your kids each day about their day (this is not always going to be met with a fruitful response and that’s fine), read the newsletter, volunteer in their classroom, go to meetings, develop positive relationships with other parents and their school buddies, and most importantly approach the teacher with any questions or concerns.
- You will need to be really organised. Like really organised (or at least that is what I found)! You see if you are go with the flow type at heart (like me), then when your children are with you 24/7 you have more flexibility to go with the flow. Compared to when they have to be somewhere by 9.00 am on the dot, with their lunch packed, uniforms on, homework done and notes filled out! If you are not organised than your kid will feel some stress from that disorganisation and in Kindergarten they need as little of that as possible! So try to keep on top of everything they need for school so that they can focus on what they really need to as well!
- You will see your child develop and change rapidly. They will gain a lot in maturity! They may go from non-readers to readers (or beginner readers to novel readers). Their ability to express themselves will mature and change. They will gain a stronger sense of right vs wrong and become more used to following rules. Their numerical skills will go up. And their interest in the world around them will continue, but take on different forms. Your role as their parent will shift too, they are developing stronger bonds with their friendship groups and spending less time around you. But of course they still very much need you and are still your baby, so don’t feel as though you have lost your baby overnight! The shifts are subtle but real! (This is their first day of school photo, Halen was very unsure, Layla was too but she can always perform for the camera!)
- They will start comparing themselves to others. The comparison trap begins early my friends. Comparing themselves to others will probably start before school, however, once they start school it takes on a whole new level. And I have a feeling it is just the beginning. I (think) your main job as their parent is to support them, reassure them and not to get caught up in it yourself. As long as your child is happy, healthy and learning then that is the main thing. When my girls first started Kindergarten they were really anxious and under performed in all of their initial assessments. I was okay with that, however, after a few weeks I got concerned and started over thinking- maybe I had overestimated their skills, maybe I hadn’t done enough with them etc etc… However, fast forward to halfway through the year and they have really started to shine and perform to their abilities. Even if that does not happen, don’t stress, kids get it in their own time. If you are concerned talk to their teacher and seek help! It is only Kindergarten! 🙂
- Your kids are really resilient, capable, little people, headed for big things! Kindergarten is hard for little ones, it is a huge change. I am not talking just academically, but socially and emotionally. There is a LOT they are doing – learning to line up, wear correct uniform, be on time, manage their lunch boxes, go to the canteen, hand in notes, make friends, fit in, stand out, learn, play, control their emotions etc. So many skills. There will be days (maybe even a whole term) where they will be exhausted and come home wrecked. And they will let you know about it… hehe! However, when I look at how far my kids have come in two terms, it is amazing. I know this is just the beginning! (Photo is of Layla showing me the correct way to sit in class!)
I can also see that whilst the start of Kindergarten is stressful and has taken a lot of adjusting for all involved it is going to get easier. I can see the organisational stuff that overwhelmed at first will become more second nature AND eventually my kids themselves can take on more of those responsibilities! I can see they will grow in confidence and not look to me for reassurance as much. They will keep moving forward and I will always be their cheerleader, but they will most certainly grow up (way too fast). So if your little one is in Kindergarten or heading to Kindergarten enjoy, because time really does fly!
What is your favourite Kindergarten memory? Did you like Kindergarten? Any veteran Mums out there with advice?