A firstborn goes to kindergarten

Filed under: Big Kids, Day Care & Education

child at bus stopYesterday, I took my five-year-old for a back-to-school haircut. She'd decided she'd had enough of her long, straight hair and wanted a chin length bob. At home it seemed like a good idea, but when the stylist lifted her scissors to cut off that first length of hair, I nearly had to hang on to the counter to stop myself from snatching her back out of that chair.

That's pretty close to how I feel about the upcoming first day of kindergarten. It's not about the hair, of course, it's about the letting go and letting her grow up. Kindergarten is a huge milestone, but part of me wants to scoop her up and tell the world, "You can't have her yet. She's still all mine."

NYMetroParents has some good advice for parents facing that first day of kindergarten, two that especially stick out for me. The first is that, no matter how ambivalent I might be feeling about school starting next week, my game face is always on for my daughter. We talk frequently about how much fun it's going to be, how exciting it is to start "big girl school," how it'll be great to see her preschool friends again and make new friends as well. Though I'm watching her closely for signs of anxiety or nerves, I keep my personal angst to myself.

The second piece of advice that I think is important for moms and dads is this: Don't be ashamed of your emotions. I doubt I'll cry when I leave her there that first day. I ripped that particular band-aid off last fall when I left her at preschool for the first time. But it's normal to feel reluctant when change occurs, even positive change like the first day of kindergarten. It's a new routine, a new way of life, and a new giant step for your little one who's leaving babyhood behind. Tears are perfectly acceptable.

We're fortunate to have a school that recognizes that kindergarten is a big step for kids and parents alike. We attended a school-wide open house last spring, where we had a chance to meet the kindergarten teacher and see the classroom. Earlier this month, her teacher made a home visit so that she could get to know us better. And late this week, there's another open house so that kindergarteners can see the room with their parents, drop off their school supplies, and set up their work areas. These steps are all put in place to help the kids feel more comfortable when school starts, which will help the parents as well. If I can walk out of that room the first day knowing she's ok, I'll be ok too.

Do you have a little one starting school this year? How are you handling it?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.