Welcome to Day Seven of the Ready for Kindergarten: 30 Days of Activities, Ideas, and Learning Fun series here on Chasing Supermom.
I’m not going to lie….today’s concept has a lot to do with YOU.
When I was in the classroom, I always encouraged (and sometimes very politely forced) my parents to give a quick goodbye – especially towards the beginning of the year. Kids need to learn to cope with the new environment and people without you…because you will not be a part of their regular classroom routine. Sticking close by your child those first few days (or even sitting in the classroom all day), can prevent your child from gaining the independence and courage necessary to blossom.
I know that it’s tough. When my daughter started kindergarten, I burst into tears the second I was down the hall. It’s traumatic losing our babies. We worry for them. Will they make friends? Will they remember to go to the bathroom? Will they manage to get their lunch? Will the kids be mean to them? Our hearts race as we imagine all of the things that could go wrong or make their day less than perfect. Sometimes, because we worry, we feel like our presence will make things better for our child. We want to be available to step in and save their day.
Did you know that if you help a bird break the eggshell as they are hatching that they will likely die? It can be painful to watch the little bird struggle to break free. We just want to help. But, as that little bird is struggling, he is also developing the strength he will need to survive. It’s like this with our babies. Our kids need to work hard and face a variety of circumstances (that yes, can sometimes be challenging) to develop strength, courage, and perseverance. We need to develop the courage to let them fly.
“But my kid will cry!” Honestly…they might. There’s always one who does. I’ve never had a student cry for more than 5 minutes. They ALWAYS settle down within a few minutes of mom or dad leaving. It may take some time. Certain temperaments may take longer than others to begin to go to school willingly or without tears. Trust that they will be okay, and give them the opportunity to be strong. This is a situation where you being there or prolonging the goodbye won’t help. Your child needs to learn that their teacher is a safe person, and that school is a safe and FUN environment.
In the picture to the right of my daughter on her first day of kindergarten, you can see a very timid smile. I could tell Hannah was afraid. I knew she was nervous. I also knew she would be okay. I knew she was in for a year of new experiences, learning, and lots of growth. I told her I loved her, snapped a picture, and left. I held myself together until I was out of sight. The last thing she needed to see was ME crying about her starting school. I built up that first day like it was Disneyland, talking about how fun and special it would be. I told her what an amazing, smart, and kind girl she was and we talked about how to ask friends to play. But, I didn’t stay. I didn’t linger. I let her go. I let her fly. I gave her room to blossom on her own.
A few Tips
Re-assure your child (if they are worried about it) that you WILL come get them or be there to greet them when they get off the bus.
Practice makes it easier! If your child has never really been away from you, it is a great idea to practice leaving them. Arrange for a childcare swap with a friend (preferably one they don’t know super well), visit a church, sign your child up for a VBS, or use the childcare at Ikea. Let them know and understand that you will always come back. Build that trust, and give them opportunities to trust, listen to, show respect to other adults.
They may cry (and you might too), but a quick goodbye and a simple hug and “I’ll see you soon” is enough. Send your child off knowing they are loved, safe, and capable of taking on the challenges of the day.
Whether you have the super independent kid (who like me will say, “You’re not going to walk me in are you?” sorry Mom!) or whether your child is a bit more timid and anxious, I pray you will both have a wonderful first day.
Great Books for Kids (and Moms) Who are Hesitant to Start School
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