Today was a big day at our school – Independence Day. It’s the first day that kindergartners are supposed to walk into school on their own, leaving their parents behind at the gates. Of course, the school tries to make it a fun event with red, white, and blue fanfare, but as I attempted to navigate the barely moving car line and dodge jaywalking pedestrians on the rare occasions when I was able to move my vehicle, I couldn’t help but notice the nervous faces of kindergarten parents, reluctant hugs goodbye, and even a few tears. For more than a few parents, it was a tough morning.
Make no mistake, the first few weeks of kindergarten are hard. Like, really hard. Kindergarten often means moving from much smaller nursery and preschool environments and suddenly being thrust into big schools with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of kids with administration and teachers that you don’t know. There are new rules and earlier start times and lengthy school supply lists to purchase and homework. And, oh, the forms! The never-ending stack of forms that must be filled out…or else. As nice as your selected kindergarten may be, it can often feel totally and completely overwhelming. You may even find yourself entertaining thoughts of moving to a new school, homeschooling, or questioning education altogether and considering going off the grid.
But as crazy as it may seem, this is all perfectly normal.
If you’re a few days or weeks into your kindergarten year and you feel like you’re failing, you’re not. Kindergarten comes with it’s own growing pains – adjusting to a new routine, meeting new people, learning new rules, finding your way around a new campus. They’re issues that exist in every school, in every city, all over the country. You can’t escape them. And, let’s face it, going off grid isn’t really a good long-term option anyway, is it?
Besides, even if you planned and prepared for all those growing pains, there are so many things about kindergarten that might catch you by surprise…anyone remember my car line rant from years ago? Yeah, I never saw that coming. But considering that post has been picked up by online publishing outlets nationally, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who never saw it coming. Nor did I foresee the never-ending battle to keep money in their lunch accounts, the flood of paper coming home from school on a daily basis that must be signed (or else), or a plethora of other issues that go along with kindergarten.
So first-time kindergarten mom, here’s what I want you to know – You can do this. Your kid can do this. Before you go thinking you’re not cut out for kindergarten, let me assure you, you are not alone. Not by a long shot. You will find a new routine. If what you did today didn’t work, try something new tomorrow.
Independence Day wasn’t hard for me this year. My kids are in 1st and 3rd grade, and we’ve been through Independence Day before. While my kids would love for me to walk them into school, it’s not because they’re scared, it’s because they’d prefer that I carry their things. Time has made me a pro, and I’m rocking this first week – lunches made, kids on time, forms filled out and returned days before they’re due. Soon you’ll be rocking it too.
I promise, there will be a time when the first few weeks of school aren’t so hard, or when Independence Day won’t cause tears, but until then, you got this. I have faith in you.