It’s August. Congratulate yourself – the big decisions are over with and you’re almost there. You spent a lot of time choosing a good school, and you’ve made the most of your summer by reading to, counting with, and enjoying your 5 year old. Now that we’re down to the wire, what on earth is day 1 of Kindergarten really going to be like?
First – exciting: For heaven’s sake, this doesn’t happen every day. Make pancakes, take pictures, crank up the tunes and dance. You all are starting Kindergarten today! Be sure to involve your child in the details of their first day: try on all the pieces of that new uniform and select just the right combination to start off the school year; load backpacks with a carefully chosen lunch, some healthy snacks, and the new school supplies you shopped for together; even make a plan for what you will do after school on that first day. It’s really helpful to create routines in the first weeks of school. They are great to fall back on when reassurance is needed.
Second – emotional: There could definitely be tears. Child tears, adult tears, or both. A child’s tears are normal, and are usually assuaged with a loving hug and a reminder that you are confident in your little one’s ability to conquer the world. About those adult tears – they are pretty much guaranteed. It takes time to adjust when the morning drop off does not include a walk into the classroom. (Whenever I couldn’t hide my tears, giggling through them would always reassure my kids. The last thing you want to do is make things worse.) Remind yourself that you are the adult and plan to be brave for your child.
Third – surprising: Your little one may have trouble falling asleep the night before – or may get up extra early and greet you dressed for the day even before your alarm has gone off! It is also possible that the most outgoing child can suddenly become shy walking into the classroom, and of course, someone could forget to kiss you goodbye at drop-off because there are so many new friends to greet. Surprises are mostly good, and that’s how these little ones keep parents on our toes.
And finally – relief: It is very likely that you and your little one will make it through the day successfully. Driving to work in a messy puddle of tears after drop-off hopefully morphed into a day of peace and productivity. At the end of the day, you can look forward to the first installment of the story of Kindergarten from the newest expert on the subject.
So thank those teachers who spend hours every day with your child, pat yourself on the back for making it this far, and take pictures. You don’t want to forget this day and all the days to come.