Kindergarten has been a learning experience for our family. We have been used to entrusting our kids to very capable teachers since they have gone to daycare since birth. However, the fact that my oldest son was headed to kindergarten made me feel completely unprepared. After a few years of knowing every teacher, playground aide, lunch lady, and nap helper that my son had, we suddenly knew no one. The teachers, students, and bus drivers were all strangers to us. We learned many lessons along the way that I would have loved to know going into kindergarten!
You will need/want to take a lot of time off.
Just about every holiday has a party or event associated with it. Since I work outside of the home, I have to arrange my work calendar accordingly because I have chosen to attend them! The evenings can fill up as well with parent-teacher conferences, carnivals, and music programs. Also, it seems like the students are out of school at least once a month for inservice days! Get your back up plans ready!
Anxiety MIGHT become a problem.
My son was EXCITED to attend kindergarten. For at least a year, he asked me if it was time for kindergarten to start. When he attended a 2 hour screening in the spring prior to starting kindergarten, he told me, “I’m not nervous, not even a little bit!” His enthusiasm extended through the summer and the first day of school in August. He came home and told me he had fun. He wasn’t overly verbose about his first few days of school, but after a few weeks, he suddenly started to use the bathroom every 15-20 minutes from the time he came home from school to the time he went to bed. I asked around and spoke with the pediatrician. I was assured that this was a typical anxiety response to such a big change in his world. He has improved some, but occasionally still struggles with being nervous about the “firsts.”
You will have one tired kid.
My son quit napping when he was 3. He would have quiet rest time, but he hasn’t needed a nap for years. In addition, he has attended full day daycare and preschool his whole life. He was used to having a busy schedule all day so I was a little caught off guard with how tired he was when he came home. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the fact that he didn’t argue about going to bed most days, but despite our 8:00 bedtime, I was still having to wake him up in the mornings!
When they get off the school bus, they are WILD!
He wanted to run around like a caged animal. He craved being active. He had 2 recesses and his teacher incorporates activity breaks, but he really needed to MOVE when he came home from school.
You may need to establish open communication with the teacher.
Since I was used to dropping off and picking up my son at daycare, I was spoiled with the ability to chat with and build a natural relationship with his teachers. I could easily find out how his day went and they had many opportunities to discuss any concerns with me. In Kindergarten, he rides the bus to and from school, and my contact with his teachers has been very limited. I’ve taken every opportunity to keep an open line of communication with his teacher. I found the Facebook page for the PTO, school, and even his classroom teacher. It has helped me stay in the loop!
There WILL be surprises.
Your child will need to dress up special for a music program, career day, or favorite super hero day. Despite looking through the backpack nightly and checking emails daily, it is inevitable that you will miss the notice you need. We threw together a Kylo Ren Costume with an over-sized hoodie, worn out black t-shirt, and black sweat pants for a super hero. Never mind that he’s not exactly a super hero! If my kid is happy with it, so am I!
Check the school calendar regularly.
There have been deadlines for turning in box tops, field days, and music programs that were posted on the school calendar website long before we received details. With our busy family schedule, it was helpful to have activities already penciled in.
Kindergarten has been a great experience for our son. He has learned so much about making friends, adapting to a whole new environment, and of course, academic skills. It has not been without some growing pains and an adjustment period for the whole family, but it’s the first major milestone in our firstborn’s life. And it’s been a reminder that we all have a lot left to learn.