So you’re a brand new kindy mum – exciting! You’re probably feeling a mixture of elation, nerves and trepidation about what lies ahead for both you and your child, especially over the first few weeks. Big school is a big deal for little people and the impact it has on everyone in the family is HUGE! Here are a few things to anticipate over the coming weeks.
A serious case of ‘Kindytude’
BAM! From the moment you pick them up you can expect some major back chat and general feralness. They’ve been on their best behaviour for 6 hours (or more if they’re in before/after school care). They’re learning so much, conforming to new rules and meeting lots of new friends which requires lots of holding their s&it together! And they’re tired! School is exhausting for little brains.
Apparently it’s very normal and common that they take out any built up emotions on the people they feel most comfortable with and that would be YOU! Even on the days you think you’ve nailed it by bringing them a donut for afternoon tea they’ll lose their mind because it is the wrong coloured icing. Buckle up for a few rough weeks – we promise it does improve!
We found that not going overboard with after-school activities and sticking to an early bedtime helped somewhat. But mainly we just rode it out!
Some kids take to it like a duck to water, particularly those with older siblings who have visited the school daily and totally know the drill. Others not so much and there may be tears. The tears may go on for a while but again, the teachers are used to it and handle it so well. We’ve seen them swiftly peel clinging kids from mums numerous times. If your child is crying regularly our suggestions would be
1) Make the goodbye brief. Don’t linger around, even though you want to ensure they’re ok. 99.9% of the time the tears stop as soon as you’re out of sight.
2) An ‘incentive’ may work. If there’s something they’ve got their eye on, maybe a week of no tears may just earn them a treat or little reward.
3) Be super positive and upbeat about school all the time. Talk about all the fun things, new friends and how awesome they are being a ‘big’ kid now.
4) Arrange a little play date with a new friend or go to the park after school with the class or a group of kids and mums. We know this can be well outside your comfort zone too, but it does all help. And these days, class Facebook and WhatsApp groups make arranging this much easier.
We hate to say it but there’s a 99% chance that you will receive a letter home at some point about these critters and your child may even get them – ours did! It’s the four letter word that strikes fear into even the most seasoned of school mums but it’s par for the course unfortunately! And rest assured – everyone’s dealt with it and there’s no judging so don’t worry too much. The teachers are also really used to it so definitely make sure you mention it if you find your child has a case. You can read more about our first time dealing with it here!
There’s likely to be a kindy kid already reading novels and another with handwriting like your grandmother’s. Don’t stress about it – give your kid time to find their groove as they all progress at a different pace and are ‘better’ at certain things than others. It is what it is. There are some seriously bright kids out there and there are some seriously coached kids out there too. Run your own race and try as hard as you can to focus on your own child’s development. The majority of teachers are brilliant and skilfully work with all levels and children. But if you have a legitimate concern about your child, definitely speak with your child’s teacher.
It’s possible they may have some sort of toilet accident, even if they haven’t had one in years. Don’t worry, they won’t get teased, it seems it’s quite normal in kindy as they learn to hold on or follow the procedure of putting their hand up to ask to go to the bathroom. You may like to put a spare pair of knickers in a pocket of their bag and explain that it’s just in case of a little accident. Teachers are great at handling all of this too.
The path to reading
Learning to read is hard and you’re a huge part of this journey. Before our kids started school we’d heard lots of times “Don’t worry, they’ll learn that at school.” This is true to an extent but it doesn’t mean that there’s not work to be done at home to help your child on this journey. Sure, most kindy kids don’t have homework or it starts a little later in the year. However they do take home ‘readers’ (books designed to help them learn to read) and there’s an expectation that parents help them read these each night, or morning if that works better for you and your child.
There are also ‘sight words’ that come on different coloured cards as they progress through them all. These 100 or so words are basically the foundation of reading, the most common words they just need to know and there’s no way around this really. Your child will need to know the words on each card before progressing to the next colour. Your child’s teacher may have some suggestions of ways to mix things up when learning these. Each child is different so you just have to find what works for yours. You could play bingo or memory with them for example. But let’s face it, this kind of thing on certain days is just a huge chore and a form of parental torture when you’ve looked at the word ‘that’ for the hundredth time and they stare blankly at you!
You will likely become busier that you were before. Seems impossible right?? You now have a full 5 days up your sleeve so how can this be? For those who have kids in daycare your day is suddenly MUCH shorter – you HAVE to be there on the bell to pick them up and 3pm is way earlier than the luxury of 5.30pm or 6pm or just picking them up whenever you were ready to!
The school day of six hours is super short, then add in doing canteen, uniform shop or class reading, your ACTUAL job, household errands & chores and getting organised for library day, sports day, news day, combined with class birthday parties and extra-curricular activities and it leaves about 3 seconds spare in your day!
We try really hard to be organised when we can as this does help. And when you get a note home from school, return it straight away before it goes missing in the endless pile of papers. Read the school newsletter, the email from the class mum/parent or if your class has a closed Facebook group, join it as these are the best ways to keep across the HEAP of stuff that happens at school.
So buckle up mums, you’re in for a ride but it’s a really rewarding one. Their growth, both intellectually and emotionally, in kindergarten is out of this world and they become much more independent. Take some time to admire it, because this year will fly by faster than you can imagine. Good luck!