My two little boys started school last week. It’s fair to say that was the only thing that came to mind for most of the summer. But I think it’s justified.
Elliott had his very first day of kindergarten, which means that after three and a half years of occasional mum and grandma care, he is now making his grand entrance into the larger world, where he will have the chance to make friends, to have conversations and hobbies and play routines completely independent of his parents and older brothers.
Meanwhile, Henry enters kindergarten, in the big leagues!
No matter what stage of life we face, I always use books as a soft opening. We were spoiled for choice due to Henry’s first year in kindergarten only a year ago. So we launched the fun readings to explore the school from many angles.
We’ve read books about the fear of not being ready for school, about missing the bus and having to find a friend to take you there, about a puppy following its owner to class, about a little pirate who desperately wants to go but his parents are not so sure and about a variety of animals – what they were afraid of, how they prepared and how they handled it.
Of course, we attended the school’s open house event, where the two boys met their teachers, snooped around their new rooms and lockers, and inspected the potties to see if they were the creepy type with the automatic sensors. . (Good news, they weren’t!)
Then, when they seemed as ready as they could be, it was this mom’s turn. I ran a few miles to their school just to see if I could make it in an apocalyptic circumstance. I also cycled it a few more times for good measure. And while I was on these trips, I listened to two podcasts that gave me some peace.
Happy as a Mother released one called “Is my child ready for kindergarten?” It focused on social and emotional preparation as well as the ever-increasing high academic standards in the United States for this age, sometimes beyond the limits of typical development.
It’s true that as parents we’re under a lot of pressure to make sure our kids are “preschool ready,” and with so many sources and so much marketing on top of it, it can be hard to figure out what that’s all about. really means. This recording reassured me because it mainly focuses on your child’s ability to be in a new environment without you and slightly also on the attitude of being ready to learn something new.
Janet Lansbury’s Respectful Parenting released an episode called “Easing Our Children’s Transition to School”, which talks about the anxiety both child and parent face when they first start school or daycare. It was helpful to hear that a tough goodbye doesn’t necessarily mean your child isn’t ready for the experience. On the contrary, Lansbury thinks it’s a natural part of the process and discusses ways to relax.
On our big day, my boys put on their new superhero shirts, put on their backpacks, gave me a hug and a wave, and left happily. I know this is what I’ve been yearning for for months now, but it still hasn’t prepared me to be the one to shed a few tears.