Tips for Kindergarten Parents | Families
Where did the time go? Wasn't it yesterday that you brought the baby home from the hospital? It's back to school time again and for those sending a child to kindergarten, it can be quite emotional... for parents anyway. Kindergarten is a special time and you'll begin seeing pay off on your hard work over the past 5 years. For most this will be the first full school day, the first year to ride the school bus, the first year to have homework, and the first year when peer influences begin to play a role.
Before beginning Act Together, I worked as a primary school teacher in kindergarten through 2nd grade. The formative primary years of school are my passion. I love watching those little ones blossom and grow as God’s plan for their lives begins unfolding.
Now that my peers have little ones they are sending off to kindergarten, I find myself giving tips to first time parents. First of all, I’ll assure you that your child will do fine. Kindergarten teachers are good people and they will take care of your baby. Be strong for your child. If he/she senses that you are upset it will make the transition harder. So hold back the tears until after the bell rings and then use this moment as a reminder for how quickly time passes and treasure every moment you have with your children. Take pictures, write letters to your children that they can read after you are long gone, pray and thank God for allowing you to be the parent of your precious child.
Establish healthy routines and patterns during kindergarten. You will lay the foundation for your child’s educational career over the next few years. Help your child to realize that school is your child’s “job”. School is very important and should be taken seriously. Develop bedtime routines that involve picking an outfit for the following school day, laying out socks and underwear so that the morning runs smoothly. Establish a bedtime and a wake up time. Keep this consistent on school nights. A kindergarten child should get 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Consider using a chart to remind your child of the morning routine. Include: Get dressed (don’t forget the shoes!), make bed (kindergarteners can begin having basic chores around the house), brush hair and teeth, eat a healthy breakfast, and get in the car/ to the bus stop by _____. Children actually like having some responsibilities and they will respond better to having a chart to check off than to being nagged. Also develop after school routine. Teach your child where to put their school bag after school and where to put their folder and other important information for mom or dad. These habits will prevent chaos during the busy mornings.
Begin to teach homework habits. While most kindergarteners will not have a lot of homework, it’s still important to have an area where your child can work on his/her “homework.” This might be a table in the living room or a desk in their bedroom. Make “homework” fun and use that word when referring to flashcards or other school projects. Kindergarten children are usually excited about having homework like the big kids.
If your child struggles academically keep in mind that children develop at their own pace. Putting unnecessary pressure on them may cause them to dislike school and that is more harmful in the long run. Keep your child’s schedule light. I can’t emphasize this enough. The trend right now seems to be to enroll children in every possible event, sport and extracurricular activity. For most, this will be your child’s first experience in full day school and that is enough change for most 5 year olds. The sports and other activities can wait. Your child will benefit more from being with their family during the evenings than running around from activity to activity while eating in the back of a minivan. Children need down time and it’s important that we always leave marginal time in our schedules.
Support the teacher for your child’s sake. Even if your child has with the worst imaginable teacher, you as the parent need to support whatever the teacher says (at least in front of your child.) In doing this you are teaching your child to respect authority and respect the position, even if you do not like the person. This is an important life lesson we all need. Remember that the teacher will have your child for more waking hours in the day than you do.
Have fun this year! It really is a special year that you and your child will always remember. I leave you with this poem.I Trust You’ll Treat Her Well
I bequeath to you today one little girl… in a crispy dress… with two blue eyes… and a happy laugh that ripples all day long… and a flash of light blond hair that bounces in the sun when she runs. I trust you’ll treat her well. She’s slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning…and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine. Prim and proud she’ll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say "Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.
Now she’ll learn to stand in lines… and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She’ll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells… and deadlines… and she’ll learn to giggle… and gossip… and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy ‘cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And, now she’ll learn to be jealous. And now she’ll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she’ll learn how not to cry.
No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch steps on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she’ll worry about those important things… like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friend is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And now she’ll find new heroes.
For five full years now I’ve been her sage and Santa Claus and pal and playmate and father and friend. Now she’ll learn to share her worship with her teachers… which is only right. But, no longer will I be the smartest, greatest man in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time… she’ll learn what it means to be a member of the group… with all its privileges and its disadvantages too. She’ll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud… or kiss dogs… or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms… or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.
Today she’ll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I’ll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman. So, world, I bequeath to you today one little girl… in a crispy dress… with two blue eyes… and a flash of light blond hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
I trust you’ll treat her well.