My son is five years old and he is entering kindergarten this year. Last year he went to preschool three days per week for three hour days. While I was a bit sad to see him enter preschool last year we had been able to hand pick his school and we knew that he was going to be treated with respect in a nurturing environment that focused on art and music. We had been able to meet the teachers before signing up, I sat in on a class with my son to make sure he liked what they did and I ended up only shedding a few tears that first day because I knew he was in a good place and he would be safe and well taken care of.
This fall my son is going to be attending public school for six hours per day, five days each week. That’s a big jump so we’re both a little nervous for this change. A lot of worries have crossed my mind this past summer. I have been a stay at home mom for the entire time my son has been alive so it’s a challenge to trust someone else on a daily basis to assist in educating my son the way I would want and providing the type of care I would provide. I have slowly come to accept all of these changes and feel like we’re in a good place with kindergarten approaching. All of these fears can take on a positive spin if you know what to do about what you or your child is worried about.
You Are Leaving Behind Early Childhood
No longer does your child need you to rock them to sleep or nurse them for their feedings. We all know this to be true. When it’s time for your child to enter kindergarten you are leaving behind a certain phase of childhood. This can be upsetting for many parents and I had a phase where it was a bit of a shock to me. I had spent every day for the past five years taking care of my son and now all of a sudden he was independent enough to leave me for six hours each day. What was next? College? Marriage? I found myself jumping a bit too far into the future which I am often guilty of. The truth is, every phase my son has gone through I have enjoyed. I wasn’t upset to be done with changing diapers and I sure didn’t mind when he started sleeping through the night. While I enjoyed newborn snuggles and strolls around the neighborhood with the stroller, I really enjoy my son now. He’s smart, funny and awesome to be around. I like having conversations with him and I know that as he gets older this will only get better. Our bond seems to get better and better as he gets older as well so it’s not fair to simply be sad about the fact he doesn’t need me as much anymore. I will relish in the fact I can go to the bathroom without someone trying to break in from the hours of 9 AM to 3 PM! I know he’ll come barreling in before I know it and fill my house with joy and laughter again.
You Need To Let Go Of Your Child
Many mothers have a hard time with the fact that they need to let their children go and trust someone else to keep them safe and happy for a large part of the day. What helped me the most with letting go is preparing my son for what I knew he would encounter during his six hours away from me. We’ve covered everything from how to open his lunch containers and water bottle, we’ve zipped and unzipped his backpack, we have talked about what to do if someone is picking on him, we have run down the list of what his daily schedule will be like, where and when he will get dropped off and picked up and plenty more. As a mother I am not expected to let go overnight. The process of letting go is a slow one and it doesn’t have to be painful like people suggest. It can be rewarding watching your child learn to do things for themselves and develop their own personality. I don’t really feel as though I am letting go. I am still needed each and every day when my child is home and I will be in the classroom helping whenever I am allowed.
I remember there being plenty of bullies in middle school but before that point I never really encountered nasty kids who bullied others. These days bullying has become an epidemic in my opinion and no matter what the cause it’s something you need to be aware of. My son has come across a number of bullies already in preschool and elsewhere. I have had a talk with him from both ends of the spectrum. I have explained what to do if someone is bullying him and I’ve also explained why we don’t bully others. I am not worried about my child becoming a bully because it’s just not something that occurs in our home. I don’t like that I have to worry about him being made fun of by someone else but in our home we boost our child’s confidence enough so that others can’t break him down easily. He knows that anyone who might come up to him and be mean really doesn’t have any kind of reputable opinion and there are teachers and his own parents to help with any situation. It’s a shame kids come from households that don’t teach them there are different types of people in the world and that we don’t judge someone based on a difference but this is the world we live in and it’s a topic of conversation that unfortunately I think, needs to take place at the young age of five.
The School Bus
The majority of kids ride the school bus to and from school and the bus can be a whole other endeavor. There is bus safety, bullying and much more that takes place each day. We are not embarking on the bus journey this year. We live entirely too close to the school to add bus time to the day and I would need to drive my son to the bus stop anyway so I have decided to drive the extra minute to the school so I can walk him in and make sure he gets to his class safely. It will also save a lot of time not having to wait for the bus to pick him up and drop him off. For those who don’t have the option to drive their child you may want to talk about what the bus ride will be like (our district provides a practice ride to incoming kindergarteners) and what to expect. You may want to also go over what will happen when it’s time to get on the bus to come home so there won’t be any confusion during this part of the day.
My son is an only child but we have been having playdates at our home and going to other homes since he was about two years old. We were blessed to find a local Mom’s Group that allowed us the opportunity to socialize with other families like ours from a very young age. This has allowed my son to develop his socialization skills. He also participates in soccer, karate and plenty other activities that have taught him how to say hello, ask a child their name and play with them nicely. Unfortunately my son’s preschool wasn’t near our home so none of his friends from there are attending his kindergarten this year. This has made me a bit nervous. Kindergarten is a big change and so far there are only a couple of kids he knows that could potentially be in his class. Being away from me for six hours I am hoping he makes some nice friends that make him feel comfortable and happy where he is. My worries are unnecessary as my son is always a very good judge of character and is good at picking out the good kids in a group. He has always been good at knowing the different between right and wrong and will walk away from a child who isn’t behaving appropriately. My son came to me a little nervous about not knowing anyone so we have reviewed going up to someone in his class and introducing himself. We have also talked about the fact that every child in his class is starting kindergarten for the first time so everyone will be a little nervous to begin with.
What’s most important is that you don’t place the burden of your fears on your child. While I have had some of these concerns at one time or another I don’t discuss it with my child and I make him nervous over something he may not have thought about himself. As a parent it’s important to stay rational and realize kindergarten is a new adventure that both the child and the parents can enjoy. Personally I know I will shed a tear (or a few) after I leave my child at his classroom for the first time but I am also excited to start a new chapter for myself. This is the first time in over five years I have the opportunity to focus on my writing on more of a full time basis. I can get all my household chores done during the day rather than being stopped every five minutes to play with cars or action figures. I can prepare dinner in peace (and maybe even make a big elaborate meal once in a while!) and clean the house. I might even be able to fit some afternoons at the gym in there. When my son returns home I will be able to focus on quality family time completely without household duties standing in the way. Maybe we’ll even decide to embark on this parenting adventure again. Of course, after I get a break and enjoy my quiet home for a bit!