So, when I joined OS El D was just a little nugget - not even a year old... and here it is the Summer before he starts kindergarten. Srsly, where did the time go?
Hive mind, I ask you to bequeath your parental knowledge, funny stories or just straight up warnings to me:
1) What are the top 5 things you wish someone had told you before your kid started kindergarten?
2) What did you do to 'prep' your kid for it?
The Oracle said:
At some point we'll have to change the search terms from "children," "school," and "diapers" to "grandchildren," "nursing homes," and ... well ... "diapers."
I cosign just about everything all have said above. I am wrapping up my second kindergarten go round.
I am shopping junior highs for 1st kid because now that he is finishing grade 4 we have started getting a lot of mailings from the magnet and charter junior schools.
I do have a lunch kit recommendation. 1st and 2nd kid each have one of these http://www.igloocoolers.com/Coolers_3/Lunch_3/Vertical-Lunch-Hot-Br.... We are on our 2nd year of using them daily and they are still in good shape.
I'd use them again next year but I bought these http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/spencer-bento-box-container... and they fit better in this one http://www.igloocoolers.com/Coolers_3/Lunch_3/Messenger-Lunch-Hot-B....
So, kindergarten is a year off for us and I was getting freaked out by lots of things, including homework. But I hear plenty of people say that they just don't do homework and tell the teacher they won't. The other thing that is an issue around here is that lunch is something like 10 minutes and not all kids can eat that fast. So parents actually spend some time working with their kids on what to eat first in case they run out of time.
But someone down the street just told me husband that school has been a terrific experience for their kid (in kindergarten now), so I'm calming down bit by bit, piece by piece.
Kindergarten is less about academics and more about getting the kids into a cohesive unit to move forward through school. Some kids come from structured preschool backgrounds, some kids don't know how to line up in a line, some kids can read, some kids haven't been away from mom for more than30 minutes. It is the great equalizer, I guess. Kindergarten teachers are the super heroes of the academic world, IMHO. They take this mish-mash of completely uneven skill sets and get everyone playing together as a team and ready for elementary school proper.
Things to know -- there is no shame in repeating kindergarten. If they don't do that great, another year will not be remembered by them or their peers. I struggled with "redshirting" my son (holding him back a year before putting him in, he was one of the youngest in the class)... but in the end just jumped in.
I have found out that alot of my friends put their kids in private kindergarten to access a fullday program (our school district still does half days). I didn't even think about that.
Kindergarten is exhausting -- both my boys had been in full-time daycare/preschool since infancy, so I naively though kindergarten would be "no big deal". They had been in classrooms, knew their pre-reading stuff and even some reading stuff, knew how to line up, eat a snack, etc. But kindergarten is real school and they came home pooped out. Loved their day, just very exhausting.
Make a promise to yourself NOW not to engage in the mommy wars you will inevitably face. If anyone mentions their child's reading level, WALK AWAY! Even this early, the comparisons between each child begin. Keep your eyes on your own child and avoid the parents that don't.
Do NOT fall into the homework trap. Be THAT mother if you have to, seriously. There's an AMAZING book called The Case Against Homework.
Children in K should have no more than 10 minutes of homework a night. TEN. That's it.
And definitely don't stress about reading. Neither of my kids could read a word before kindergarten, I was absolutely convinced they'd never learn, and by the end of K both were completely proficient readers. It's like something magic happens that year.
5. Be forgiving of the other students and their parents. There's no such thing as "bullying" in kindergarten, and don't let anybody tell you differently. The kid who flips out in kindergarten probably has intense anxiety or maybe as-yet-undiagnosed autism and/or ADHD. Smile at his mother when you see her at pick-up time. She knows, she cares, and she's working on it.
I'm going to have to disagree here a bit. Is there a magic age for the onset of bullying? Bully is not always hallmarked by "flipouts" caused by undiagnosed disorders. Sometimes bullying is just bullying. It exists whenever there is a power imbalance (2 kids against one, 1 smart kid against a my cognitively delayed kid, that sort to.). Not to scare you, but let's not pretend it isn't a thing. It doesn't just magically appear in "the grades".
Also the mom/dad with the undiagnosed kid? Probably years away from wrapping their brains around whatever is keeping him/her from being successful in class. Kindergarten may be the first time the individual symptoms are spotted (because the kid is no longer in he controlled safety net of the home and may end up encountering triggers). They are far from working on it, because they are just in the beginning process of trying to accept it and justify it. Denial and acceptance are still in their future. These things are generally NOT resolved in kindergarten.
If you think your kid is being bullied or victimized in any way, speak up.
Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. I really appreciate it. A lot.
Kiwi - I'm ordering some this weekend I think...I want to give them a whirl this summer too!
Good_Badwyfe - Hi there! Thanks for joining the discussion and for your really thoughtful/well put together response. I really liked #2 & 3. I hope to get a pass on the judgement too - so, I'll walk in with an open mind. Thanks. :)
Just a side note - as part of my thinking about K -- I started thinking about how natural (not easy) parenting El D has been up until this last year or so... Now it feels as though I need to be on my game, checking boxes along the way, etc... I need a project plan to raise my kid! AHHAAHA!!
Anyone else experience this as their kids got older?
Thanks for this thread G.G. I too started here when E was a blob (inside or out, I forget). Turning 4 in a few weeks and I'm mentally preparing for preschool this fall. He's been in a home day care setting since 9 months, but it's fairly unstructured and I wonder how he'll make the transition. The director recommends a few days, or the whole first week being half-days so he can acclimate.
My big concerns right now are the fact that he has no interest in 1) letters (other than singing the alphabet), or 2) wearing underwear. I try not to push the letter recognition thing, and add it here and there playfully. I realize this is my problem and not his though.
Anyone else have a kid that prefers to go commando. I've tried every superhero branded/cool color- nothing works. Someone suggested boxers, but I don't think I've ever seen boxers for a 4yo.
SJB - you're welcome...its nice to know even when the kids are older you're not alone :)
I did a similar transition with El D when I started him in pre-school... we did 3 half days and then into full time. It worked pretty well... and hell, I needed it too. Just getting him up and out on time some where was a struggle (even though I work). Just try to remember that's why (in part you want to send him to pre-school) so they can learn... I did fun games with El D (still do) to help encourage it or reinforce what they were doing in school. Simple things like reading at bed time or driving down the road - "hey, El D - what color is that sign?" *crickets from the back seat* "Red!" Eventually he would play with me :)
Have you tried something like this? http://www.target.com/p/Fruit-Of-The-Loom-Boys-2-pack-Transformers-... (apologies if your area isn't close to a Target)
I wouldn't sweat the commando thing too much.
I've been noticing that schools are expecting much more of kids at a much younger age, and the workload is really increasing. Not so much in Kindergarten, but in grade school. I thought it was just my locale, but I asked teacher friends of mine in other states, and they all said it's happening all across the country.
If it is an all day kindergarten, have a change of clothes in a bag at the school in case of any sort of accident...spilled food, pee, that sort of thing. Be ready to be told what your kid can and can't take in the lunch box. The "no peanut" thing is becoming more prevalent, and I get that, but some schools even extend it in their "wellness" policy. My 5th grader caught shit from a lunch aid because we put chocolate chip cookies in his lunch. That put me on a rampage, but that's just me. Anyway, all kids are different, so in terms of anything else other than what most everyone else has said, it's hard to say. We just kind of go with the flow and adjust where needed accordingly.