My youngest child is about to start Kindergarten in 13 days. She is incredibly excited about going to school, meeting new friends, riding a bus and all of the adventure that school brings.
She feels that way because that is how we have approached the advent of her elementary school years.
The start of a Great Learning Adventure!
It is also how we approached the start of school 8 years ago for her 12 year old sister and her 6 year old sister last year when they were facing walking into a classroom by themselves for the first time. We tell them it is/was okay to be nervous about school, even a little bit apprehensive but there is no reason to be scared of going to school.
I believe that as a parent it is my job to make sure my kids are prepared for school and that they are looking forward to it. I think I’ve done that because when I asked her if she was even a “little bit worried” about going to school she looked at me like I was crazy and said “Noooo” in the way only a 5 year old can.
I know that there are a lot of people getting ready to send their 5 year olds out the door to embark on this Great Adventure and they are terrified, and sadly many are passing that fear and terror along to the new grade schooler. It’s the first time in their lives that we really send them off to do something ON THEIR OWN. Even if “going off to school” is nothing new to them, like in two working parent families where the kids have been in day care and pre-school since they were in diapers. This is different, no doubt about it. For the first time in their lives we are not signing them in and signing them out or taking them to a friend or relatives house. We are putting them on busses, dropping them off at the door, letting them walk to their classroom “by themselves” (don’t worry the people at the school will help if they get lost), having them remember their lunch, buying their own milk, making friends, HOMEWORK (yep, homework is a regular part of kindergarten these days), being graded on things. Big Kid Stuff.
We are letting them go. Just a little bit though.
I know a number of parents who are very nervous about this new stage in their child’s life. They are afraid their baby is growing up too fast, afraid that they won’t fit in, afraid that they will get lost, afraid that they won’t make friends and have someone to eat lunch with, afraid that their feelings will get hurt, afraid that they are “already behind”, afraid that something will go “wrong”.
Here’s my take on that. Your baby is not growing up to fast – they are growing up at exactly the right pace and are exactly where they should be. Sometimes they won’t fit in, other times they will fit in perfectly. They’re bound to get lost in school at least once, but someone nice will help them, and someday they’ll help another child. They will make friends, but not with everyone. They will eat lunch with friends some days, and they may eat lunch alone at other times. Sometimes they will cry when their feelings get hurt but mostly they will smile. No one is already behind – it is kindergarten. Things will go wrong and things will go right. Then they’ll come home and tell you all about it, so remember, the bad will be HORRIBLE, the good will be GREAT, and the reality will be somewhere in between.
Just like the adventure that is life.