Remember this post? Max’s first day of Kindergarten?
Well, we’re almost finished with this school year. In a few short weeks, Max will have completed Kindergarten. The year went remarkably well and we are thrilled with his progress and the team of people who have helped him along the way. Last summer, we were in a completely different place, wondering if we were making the right decision sending Max to public school vs. private. So far, so good.
Having a child in school is much different than having a child in child care, so I wanted to share a few tips I picked up along the way.
1. You do not have to volunteer for everything. Especially at the beginnng of the year, you will be bombarded with to-dos. Join the PTO, sell wrapping paper, collect box tops, become room parent, become a classroom volunteer, etc., etc., etc. Something that Commuter Mom recommended to me before Max started school was to pick what was important to me, and do that. Don’t feel guilty about the rest of the stuff because you can’t do everything. This has really helped guide what I did during the year. I felt is was important to be part of Max’s classroom. I wanted to know the kids in the room, and I wanted to see what he was really like in class. I also wanted to see what his teacher was like and learn her teaching style. So I chose to volunteer in the classroom once or twice a month. My husband, since he wasn’t able to do the same, was the parent who accompanied Max’s class on field trips (because of Max’s medication, one of us has to join the trips) and the annual Field Day. If you can’t get out of the office for these types of things, there are other tasks that you can do. Be the classroom communication person and send emails about things at night. Volunteer to provide the cups and napkins for class parties. There is always something you can do if you want to. Similarly, if you can’t get to a school performance (hello 30 minute Thanksgiving song fest in the middle of the day!), send an email to the class list and ask someone to video it for you.
2. Get the teacher’s email address. Email has been a fantastic way for me to keep in touch with not only Max’s classroom teacher, but all of his Special Ed team as well. Teachers can respond to email easier than a phone call or scheduling a meeting (which you should absolutely do if you feel the need to) and to me, emailing a question seemed less obtrusive than calling during the day. If Max had a rough morning at home, or if I had a question about something that came home in his back pack, email was the easiest way to reach out. That, coupled with me being in the classroom periodically, helped me feel connected to his teacher the way I was when he was in child care.
3. There are good teachers in public schools. Teachers are getting a bad rap these days. Let your child’s teacher know if you think he/she is doing a good job.
4. Your child is going to be tired. Even if he/she is used to being in full day child care, Kindergarten is different. Give them time to decompress when they get off the bus or you pick them up from after-school care.
5. You are going to have no control over what your child eats. Even if you pack your child’s lunch, it’s unlikely you’ll know what actually gets eaten. Media Mom was telling me that her child buys chocolate milk or ice cream everyday with her lunch money which went unknown for most of the school year. Oh, and if you do make lunch vs. buying it, do it at night. Trust me on this one.
If your child is getting ready to enter Kindergarten and you’re reading this, you will get through it. It will be different, it will be frustrating and it will be joyful.