My oldest son, G, has his last day of kindergarten tomorrow. I can’t believe the first year of public school is done.
And, really, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, I only had to email the superintendent once. (And it had nothing to do with G.)
It wasn’t long ago that I lamented over having my little boy go to school. I always knew G was ready. It was me that was apprehensive. Now, I see my friends on Facebook go through the same transition I did. I can’t believe he’s going to be a kindergartner next year. Where did the time go?
As a working mom who’s also committed to being around after school, it’s been an experience. I’ve had to change my schedule several times. I’ve had to leave work early and get to work late.
While I’m not the school-aged mom pro just yet, I have learned a few things over the past school year.
- Advocate for your child when necessary. Step back when it’s not. I voiced my concern twice during G’s kindergarten reign. At the beginning of the year when I felt his bus stop was in an inappropriate place, and at the end of the year when I questioned the fairness of the way a program was being filled for next year. Both times, I presented my concern along with suggestions for a solution. For the most part, I was pleased with the result in both cases. I also learned a lot about how the school was run. I didn’t sweat the smaller stuff. As a rookie to this whole process, I didn’t want overstep my bounds too quickly. Sometimes, you’ve just got to let the school handle things.
- Don’t forget to talk to your child’s teacher every now and then. And I’m not talking about just showing up for the schedule parent – teacher conferences. Take some time and say hi to the teacher. It’s a great way to find out what details your child, especially if he’s a boy, is leaving out when you ask what he did all day. Though G’s daycare got him to school in the morning, I usually drove him to school on Fridays. Chatting with his teacher made me feel more connected to his kindergarten experience. It’s also fun to see him in his very own world that (gasp) doesn’t include mom or dad!
- Listen to the pros who have already gone through it. While starting kindergarten was easy for G, it took me a while to figure everything out. There are a lot of rules in school for kids and for parents. Navigating through the processes of changing a bus schedule or getting your child excused from school can be confusing at first. I know I called way too many people to set up G’s drop off and pick up schedule the first two weeks of school. Talk to the moms with older children. They’ll tell you exactly what to do and who to talk to.
- Look at all the papers your child takes home. In kindergarten, there seems to be an endless amount of papers, artwork and notices that come home with your child. While it feels overwhelming from day to day, be sure to peruse the contents of his folder each day. Inevitably, you’ll miss some sort of deadline or event detail if you don’t pay attention. G and I spent some time at the end of each week to go through all his papers. He would tell me about the worksheets, explain his artwork, read his writings, etc. It was a great way to keep up with his progress and hear about his favorite parts of school.
- Commemorate the year when it’s all done. I’m told by friends who have older kids that the “stuff” that comes home from kindergarten lessens and starts to be replaced by more serious work as they get older. They tell me to cherish those papers. Makes sense. When you think about it, what other year can you witness such an amazing amount of learning? I have a huge stack of papers and artwork that I’ve been stowing away in the closet. I plan to go through it with G and pick out our favorites. Then, make them into a hardcover book. I can’t wait to look over how much he’s grown in such a short amount of time, from his first worksheets practicing letters to his little stories with big words written phonetically.
G did amazing this year, which is no surprise to me. He excelled in just about everything and make lots of new friends. His teacher even let him have a little “office” in his classroom where he could go to do extra writing. (You have know idea how excited I was to hear about his love for writing.)
He had such a great year, he doesn’t want it to end. After tomorrow, he’ll have earned a grade with an actual number.
And this mom will have a whole new set of lessons to learn.