With the new school year quickly approaching, many parents are sending their little ones to school for the first time. Some parents are eager to immerse their child into the world of learning and making new friends, while other parents tend to be stricken with anxiety over the new experience.
What is the teacher like? What should my child know before going to school? How many students will be in the class? What will my child learn about all day? What about all these tests I've heard parents discussing? These are just some of the questions that may cross your mind as you think about the upcoming school year. Whether you are ready to send your child to school or not, Aug. 19 will be here before you know it!
With previous experience as a kindergarten teacher, the first thing I always told my parents is to be involved at school. Get to know the teacher. Prepare your child for the first day of school by attending orientation the school offers over the summer. Have your child meet some of the teachers and take a walk through the building so that you both know what to expect on the first day. Don't be afraid to ask the teacher questions about the school, about the day, about the curriculum or anything else you may be wondering about. No question is a dumb question and it may make you feel a little more comfortable about the upcoming school year.
As a parent sending their child off to school for the first time, there are a few things you may hear your little one discussing throughout the year. Be prepared for talks about testing, homework, projects and lack of energy at the end of the day. Kindergarten is not what it used to be and has become more of an academic learning environment rather than a place to play and socialize.
Students are expected to come to school knowing how to (or at least trying to) count to 10, write their name, recite the alphabet and recognize the letters. They should also be able to dress themselves, tie their shoes and be able to use scissors and classroom materials appropriately. Make sure you are practicing these components at home before your child enters kindergarten so your student is confident in the classroom.
Although beginning a school career is usually hardest on the parents, because we want our children to stay young forever, always remember that your little one will be fine. You'll be the one who has the most difficulty adjusting. Young children adapt to their environment very well and will be successful no matter which school or teacher they are assigned to this year.
As a final thought, I am always reminded of a poem, written by Natasha Wing, that I sent home to my kindergarten parents at the start of every school year. It is as follows:
Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared,
kids were excited and a little bit scared.
They tossed and they turned about in their beds,
while visions of school supplies danced in their heads.
Erasers and crayons and pencils galore
were stuffed in their backpacks and set by the door.
Outfits were hung in closets with care,
knowing that kindergarten soon would be there.
In the morning it came, school starts today!
Would the teacher be nice? Would they still get to play?
Faces were washed, and teeth were brushed white;
Kids posed for pictures with eyes sparkling bright.
Parents packed snacks and kids hopped in cars
As if they were boarding a spaceship to Mars.
Some kids brought blankets or their favorite stuffed bear;
in hopes they could nap like they did in day care.
Their parents exclaimed, "You're big kids. WOW!
Let us hold your bears and blankies for now."
The parents were worried their children would cry
if they left them at school with just a goodbye.
So they told their darlings, "If you want, we can stay
and make sure that everything will be A-okay."
The teacher then greeted each one with a smile and invited the students to stay for a while.
The room was all filled with toys, books, and maps,
but where were the beds for mid-morning naps?
They colored and painted and played Simon Says,
then tumbled and skipped and stood on their heads.
They sang silly songs from beginning to end.
Within just a minute, each kid had a friend.
The children were happy. They loved Miss Blaire.
It was she who would show them a great deal of care.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but sad moms and dads who were holding back tears!
Their noses so sniffly! Their eyes red and wet!
This was the saddest goodbye Miss Blaire had seen yet!
She gathered the grown-ups on the magical rug,
then sent them away after one final hug.
The children all waved from the door of the school.
"Don't cry Mom and Dad; kindergarten is cool!"
Good luck this upcoming school year, and remember, teachers are a source of valuable information. Use them as a resource to help mold your child into a successful and productive members of this society. Good habits start at a young age and pave the way for future academic success.
Blaire Prough is a first grade teacher at Lewistown Elementary School.