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Sending Your Firstborn to Kindergarten

In just a few short days, some of us will enter a new club — our firstborn child will enter kindergarten. All of a sudden we are planning lives around an elementary school calendar, wondering what role we will play in the PTA, and spending moments of reflection wondering what life with a school-aged kiddo might look like. Worries will become bigger. But guess what? The celebrations, joys, lightbulb “a-ha!” moments, these all become bigger too.

But today, you and I as first-timers united, are in this together, doing our due diligence to prepare our kids, our schedules and materials, and our hearts.  There is no perfect way to send our little ones into their first year of “real” school, but I’ve rounded up a few tips for helping the year run more smoothly.

As you find yourself wondering, “Will my child ask to ‘use the restroom’ instead of declaring, ‘I gotta go poop,'” take a deep breath, grab your checklist, and know that you’ve got this, Mom and Dad.

Kindergarten - Featured

A  is for Allowing Emotion

Whether you will be boo-hooing or woo-hooing, own it! Bring your tissues and write a sentimental letter that you’ll give your son or daughter at high school graduation. Or celebrate! Smile big and give those high fives {some for your child and some for you}. This chapter will have ups and downs as they all do. Give yourself some room to feel them.

B is for Being Prepared

Do your research. There are plenty of resources {like this one} with helpful tips for getting out of the door on time – calmly and confidently. Take time to find steps to simplicity in making breakfast and packing lunches and the best practices for handling homework time and preparing nightly. Choose what might work for you and give yourself some room to adjust as needed.

C is for Cheers With Friends

Speaking of celebrating and/or crying, go ahead and call a friend for a momma play date on that first or second morning. Plan to grab a cup of coffee or meet for brunch. Bring siblings to share their own play date or get some girl time. Plus, strength in numbers, my friends! 

D is for Decompression Time

The school day will be new {and most likely exhausting} for your kindergartener. Figure out what works for your child to decompress. Consider stopping by the park after school, grabbing a healthy snack, or maybe even relaxing in front of the television for a bit.

E is for Establishing Routines

Research states it {and my summer lack of structure proves it}; kids thrive on routine. Choose any system you want, but put something in place. A simple Pinterest search of morning routines will supply you with countless examples for helping kids know just what to expect. And keep after school in mind. When will kids do homework? What will other siblings do? Be sure to factor in that decompression time and snacks. You know your children best and can help them into routines that set them up for success.

F is for First Day Pictures

Again, just one scan of Pinterest can give you lots of first day of school ideas, but even if it’s a simple shot in front of the house or school, you are going to want to have that memory. But don’t sweat it. It’s not worth tears or sending anyone off with an uncomfortable feeling in their hearts. You can always stage it another day!

G is for Get Enough Sleep and Get Up Before the Kids

Transitional times call for extra patience. Give yourself some “me” time before the kids wake up to prepare for the day or simply quiet your mind and enjoy a cup of coffee before the get-out-of-the-door shuffle begins.

H is for Hugs and Kisses

They need them. We need them. Just do it.

I is for There is No I

…in team, after all. You and your child’s teacher are in this together. Calm any anxiety by staying in touch with your child’s teacher. Ask questions, inquire about how you can volunteer, and listen to their suggestions.

J is for Jumping Right In

Whatever your talents might be, don’t be afraid to make yourself part of the school. You might have time to volunteer with the PTA or funds to provide extra school supplies from teachers’ wish lists. Maybe it’s energy you can invest in your own child through homework help and lunch notes. Respectfully stay in touch with your child’s teacher and volunteer in the classroom when you can. Give what you can and get more out of your first year as an elementary school parent.

K is for Keeping Expectations in Check

Take a deep breath, trust in your child, and let their little lives unpack themselves on their school journey. The social media world buzzes with “look at what my kid can do,” and it can be tough to avoid comparing your child to others. Trust the child you prepared for this step, and trust yourself too.

L is for Listening

If your child is anything like mine, details of the day might come out over an afternoon snack or maybe as snippets that come out at bath time. Listen for when your child needs praise or encouragement or maybe for you to advocate for him or her.

M is for Magnets

Yes, magnets. Be ready to hang up the awesome work that comes home. From writing samples to new art projects, your kindergartener is sure to have work they’d be proud to have hung up at home.

N is for New Backpack and/or Clothes

School supplies are a given. Consider picking out a new backpack or lunchbox and making a special deal of uniforms or other back to school shopping.  Look the part, act the part, right?

O is for Organization

Prepare an at-home filing system and calendar. Have a place for permission slips, papers to sign and return, and communication from the teacher. You will also need a calendar to keep up with early release dates and holidays. Apparently there are lots of celebrations and special days. You want to know when these take place, if you can go, and what you need to do to prepare.

P is for Packing Lunches and Snacks

At most schools, kindergarten students eat early and don’t have much time to eat. Consider that when packing lunches and afternoon snacks. Check the school’s guidelines and make a plan to keep it easy on yourself. Pack foods that kids want to eat, can open themselves, eat quickly, and stay full and energized for all of that learning. Stuck for ideas? Try a lunch share party!

Q is for Quick Exit

There’s no need to hang around. You’ve got coffee or brunch to get to, right? {See above.} But really, grab your tissues and head on out. It’s best for everyone.

R is for Reading

Be sure you are getting enough sleep because this learning to read business is no joke. You’ll need the patience to encourage those kiddos to sound it out instead of just blurting it out yourself.

S is for Starting Early

Consider establishing and testing those routines a week before school starts. From picking clothes to doing trial runs of morning routines, get everyone used to what’s coming. Attend the meet and greet and get supplies and clothes ready.

T is for Traditions

Live up the last day of summer, make a special breakfast, fill out a questionnaire, maybe check off the last few items on that Summer Bucket List. There are so many ideas out there. Pick a few and plan to spread joy each year as the household rhythm changes.

U is for Understanding Kindergarten Issues

From being exhausted to feeling a little homesick, emotional, and just over “all these rules,” open your heart to sympathize with the tough transition that kindergarten can be. Consider limiting after school activities and leave room for down time and extra support.

V is for Veterans

Seek out veteran parents from your school through neighborhood Facebook groups or knock on a neighbor’s door with a plate of cookies and a list of questions. Find parents who have been there. You’ll find emotional support, practical knowledge, and maybe a new friend to cheers with each year as summer ends and school begins.

W is for Weekends

Don’t stray too far from routine, but add in some special treats that communicate how much you value your time together. Maybe it’s a Friday night restaurant tradition or Saturday night movie night.

X is for Getting EXcited

Your little buddy is about to change in big ways. What a cool journey to watch!  They will grow in such wonderful ways. Believe in your love for them, and know they are just kindergarteners after all. They aren’t driving just yet!

Y is for You Will Be Okay!

Sure, take your tissues this first day, but soon wipe away those tears. You will find your way in this new stage and grow as a parent. You’ve been there before. And you’ve shone!

Z is for Zippers!

It’s going to get cold at some point, right? Right? Do those kindergarten teachers a favor and make sure your kiddos are ready to handle jacket zippers. In fact, take care of clothing issues. Make sure they can handle buttons and snaps for bathroom breaks and deal with shoes on the playground.  And while you’re at it, clearly label all outerwear with your child’s name too.  There may be LOTS of similar hoodies and jackets floating around your child’s class, and this will cut down on digs through the lost and found bucket.

 

My stomach has a little knot in it. Just a little one. I won’t be able to let it go. And that knot is going to force its way to my throat once I hug and kiss him goodbye, wish him a good day, and remind him to work hard and treat people with kindness. I’ll walk away with a stroller full of siblings, and that knot is going to choke me up just a bit and manage to coax a fat tear or two to take a stroll down my cheek. Just a couple of tears as we step out on a new journey together. They won’t stay long. It will be off to brunch with friends we go! And if school ends at 3 pm, I’ll be grinning ear to ear and waiting to wrap our new kindergartener in my arms at 2:45 and hear all about his day. 

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