by Chad Boender, Kindergarten Teacher, M.A.Ed.
The first day of kindergarten has arrived, and I'm sure you're feeling a series of emotions. As your child is raving in the back seat about how excited they are for their first day of school, you're probably having second thoughts: Will my baby be OK? What am I going to do all day without him/her? Will I finally be able to go to the bathroom in peace? These are just some of the questions racing through your mind as you pull into the school parking lot.
It's time to calm down, take a deep breath, and let me put the first day of kindergarten into perspective for you.
We All Have First-Day Jitters
When it comes to the first day of school, it's OK to be a basket case. Let's face it: You're probably feeling even less stable than your child, but that's normal. However, it's important to understand that you're not the only one who's nervous.
It's normal for a child to exhibit many emotions on the first day. Some children face separation anxiety, which leads to crying, while others run around uncontrollably because they're so excited. These behaviors and others are completely normal. It's important to know that teachers are trained to deal with them, and eventually, your child will adjust and feel comfortable with their new school-day routine.
As for teachers, welcoming a new group of students can be nerve-wracking. Imagine being responsible for 25 witty, energetic, and unfiltered 5-year-olds. On top of that, we're often more nervous about meeting you than your children. But don't worry, we're dedicated to making this transition as easy and stress-free as possible for both you and your child.
Kindergarten Is a Big Adjustment
I won't sugarcoat it: Kindergarten is a big step in your child's life (and probably in yours). One thing's for sure: Kindergarten isn't what it used to be!
The days of naps and unstructured play are long gone. Your child will be expected to learn a number of concepts throughout the year, like reading. You heard me correctly—READING! These kids are entering a world where they're expected to learn and show proof of it. Since kindergarten is much more rigorous now, you may worry that your child's capacity for success is limited. Just know that their success is our main goal, and we will do everything we can to ensure they complete kindergarten with all the right tools and skills.
In addition to finding themselves in an education-focused mindset, students are typically going from a self-centered world into one where they have to interact with several other students all day. Your child will meet a number of new acquaintances. Some of these will be immediate friends, but with others, it may take time to establish relationships. If you're concerned about bullies, remember that teachers are trained to handle both desirable and undesirable student interactions and provide guidance in conflict resolution if necessary.
Overall, kindergarten is an exciting time for your child, but it can be exhausting as well. Don't be surprised if they come home during the first month of school and their energy, behavior, or desire to attend school has changed. It takes time to adjust to these drastic changes, so just hang in there.
Your Child Is in Good Hands
It's easy to worry about your child being away from you all day and being watched by someone you barely know. But whether their teacher is fresh out of college or has taught for years, know that we do everything we can to ensure a safe, positive, and successful year for your child. In order to help make this happen and turn your child into a confident learner, teamwork and cooperation will be required by all.
No matter how overwhelmed, emotional, or nervous you or your child may be, it's important to know that they're in good hands. And consider this: while you might miss them while they're at school, you'll finally know what it's like to go to the bathroom alone!
Have a wonderful year!
A Kindergarten Teacher