How Parents Can Best Prepare Themselves For Kindergarten
Everywhere you look, there are guides to how parents can best prepare their children to attend Kindergarten. Like most of those things, most of them are grossly incomplete, and they lack the nuance of how children are individuals with different needs. What is interesting about each of these reads is they focus on what parents need to do for their children, but very few of them focus on what parents need to do for themselves.
The long story short is you should do what you think is best as a parent.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is to do all the things you think is best to prepare your child. The more you feel you prepared your child for Kindergarten, it is very likely the better you will feel. From my family’s perspective, that meant a year (plus) of planning.
We found a pre-school which prepared our child very well academically. In our case, I can saw he was a little too prepared academically leaving us scrambling at the last minute to see if there was a school better suited to his academic needs. At least in our area, there really wasn’t, especially when we balanced the other non-academic needs of our child.
I can say that experience did give us the benefit of being more secure in our original decision. The moral of the story here is do whatever you can to make yourself as secure as you possibly can in your decisions. At least personally, when I know I have made the best possible and informed decisions, I feel more comfortable.
The next thing we did is we looked at our town, and we found as many recreational sports as we could find. In the Spring, we signed our son up for t-ball and soccer. This put him in a position to have to meet new children in an unfamiliar situation to make new friends.
As an aside, our hope was he would be in a class with some of those kids and friends. Unfortunately, my son would not be in a class with any of those children. That said, he is on the playground with those children at recess, so he does have the opportunity to play with them. Knowing he has that level of comfort did help prepare us emotionally.
Beyond that, we did a lot to try to prepare our child and ourselves. This involved going well beyond simple triple checking. Each one of these things helped us feel more comfortable and ready. All of that helped us until Labor Day. There is nothing that can prepare you for the next day . . . the day you put your child on the bus to go to their first day.
To put it in perspective, my son had been in day care when he was nine months old. I was more than accustomed to dropping him off. However, with day care and pre-school, you have apps and updates with fun pictures and the like. You could call at a moment’s notice to find out how he’s doing. If you child was having a bad day, you could pick him up early without explanation, or when needed, you could keep him home on those days he needs it. If needed, you could just switch your child to another location without a moment’s notice.
While many of these things remain true (except the app updates with photos), Kindergarten is just different, and you know it as a parent. It kept me up all night. I remember getting out of bed at 1:30 to make waffles to make sure my son had one of his favorite breakfasts ready for his first day. It was either doing that or sheer exhaustion which helped me fall asleep.
In any event, my son hopped on the bus without incident. He flashed us a smile, and he waved to us as the bus pulled away. Being the completely sane individual I am, I rushed back to my car, and I followed the school bus to the school and made sure he got off the bus and into the school all right.
After that, it was time to go stir crazy not knowing how he was doing or what they were doing. It doesn’t matter where you will be. You will feel that as well. Just find the best way to distract yourself. That could be work, or doing something else. For my family, that meant taking our youngest to the zoo and having a fun day with him as we counted the minutes until the school day ended.
The long and short of it is we survived the day. Our son handled the day well, certainly much better than we did. I can also say the ensuing days were increasingly better. As we put him on the school bus this morning, it already felt like routine.
Ultimately, that’s the best thing to tell parents. Wait it out until it becomes routine because it will. When you look back, you will laugh at yourself for how much wasted energy you had over the ordeal, especially when you see how much better your child responds to it all than you did.