The school year flew, as it always does. We know that, but you know who doesn't? First-time Kindergarten parents — at least not till they've been through it once themselves. That's exactly where MomSpeaker Lindsey Schuster is today. For next school year's now-nervous newbies, she shares 10 things she learned as a first-timer, looking back from the opposite end of September.
Just like my fellow first-time-Kindergarten-mom predecessors warned me, I worried about how that first day would go all last summer. Did I cry on the first day of school? You betcha. And the amount that he learned and changed and grew? BLOWN AWAY. And almost 180 days later, without a doubt, it went as fast as they said it would.
One down, 12 to go.
Kindergarten is the start of a whole new era. And for those soon-to-be-first-time-Kindergarten-moms, this is the summer you will probably start freaking out. All those sleepless nights: the rocking, the singing and the shushing. The stressing over bumps and bruises and ailments. The loooong days that somehow seemed to go so fast – filled with monkey bars, ice cream dates, play groups, mommy-and-me classes and roaring with the lions at the zoo. The all-consuming affection and deafening tantrums. The insurmountable number of firsts and accomplishments all neatly captured in 11,202 pictures on your iPhone. And it all culminates with the start of this little thing called Kindergarten. When we put our kids on the bus, that’s it. From there on out, it’s not all on us anymore.
So from one first-time-kindergarten-mom to another, here are 10 things I learned this year.
10. Beginning-of-the-year pretests have one sole purpose — to scare the crap out of parents so that you get your butt in gear and read with your child nightly, invest in a serious deck of flashcards and contemplate a tutor so that by the time the mid-year test rolls around we see progress. (Despite the fact that the only way to go was up).
9. Questions like “How was your day?” or “What did you learn today?” are a waste of breath. If you want to know how school really was? “Did anyone get in trouble today?” is a much more effective means of communication.
8. It is essential that you utilize a hard-copy planner with the most important dates doubly recorded in iCal (with alerts) and befriend the most organized mom in the class to send you text reminders for all important events. Because, yes, missing things like crazy sock day are a big f-ing deal. You don’t want to learn this from experience.
7. Gym, recess, lunch and the bus still reign supreme. No, not “much” has changed since you went to school.
6. You think that as a parent you’ve got the Kindergarten curriculum mastered. Cakewalk right? But then they come home asking you for help with digraphs and diphthongs and — wait, whaaaaat? Suddenly your status of all-knowing parent god is out the window. You thought you had more time — at least until algebra.
5. You have less patience than you think, especially when working with an emerging reader. Contemplating telling them the word they’ve been struggling over for 5 minutes?
Buh-Buh-Baa. Buh-Buh-Baa. Back. Back? Buh-Buh. Back-er. Baaaaaa
IT’S BAKERY!! (For crying out loud) The word is BAKERY!!
MOOOOM! Why did you tell me? Now I have to Start. All. Over.
You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. (And it is times like these when you realize that all Kindergarten teachers are going straight to heaven!)
4. In the beginning of the year your child will be scared to go through the lunch line, but eventually they will try it, discover that they can get Trix with chocolate milk poured on top, and by the end of the year when you’ve discovered that this is, in fact, what they have been eating all year, you’ll be really torn; you’ll be MAD (!!!!!), but on second thought, you’ll turn a blind eye. After all, it was so much easier than having to make lunch….
3. See that cool upperclassman at the bus (aka the 5th grader)? Take note of what he/she is wearing because give it three weeks and you will own it in every color.
2. Homework, all 10 minutes of it, is an evil bitch.
1. Your child is still your baby. Kindergarten doesn’t change that or take that away. They will come home from school exhausted and whiny and will still need you to hug them and hold them. They will still want to hold your hand. Their face will light up when you volunteer in the classroom (and if you’re lucky, they might even cry when you leave). They will still be afraid to go upstairs alone. They will still think saying "poopy-head" is hilarious. There will still be time do to monkey bars, ice cream dates, play dates and roaring with the lions at the zoo. (That’s what weekends are for.) They will still need you to double-knot their shoes. They will still squeal with delight over things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Kindergarten doesn’t change the fact that your child is only 6. Yes they might be able to read (so freaking awesome) and might be able to outsmart you with their fancy literary jargon, but being in elementary school doesn’t turn them into a teenager. If you ask me, that’s the stage we need to save our tears for. So soon-to-be-first-time-Kindergarten mom, don’t fret. These years go fast, but they’re not over yet.
Lindsey Schuster is a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. Raised with four sisters, her blog Sisters to Sons chronicles the new path she has carved: raising three sons.