The first week of kindergarten for my girls was filled with excitement and a river of tears. Excitement because there were so many toys and other exuberant youngsters just like them and tears because minutes later it was time to say goodbye. My legs would feel heavy and my feet would drag with my girls hanging of it begging me to stay. My legs felt heavier when I wanted to stay too.
They weren’t the only ones trying to survive their first week of Kindy… I was too. As their mom, I am particular with where, who and what they are surrounded by (my husband is worse!). The thought of handing my precious jewels to a human I met just yesterday sounds ridiculous and completely foolish. These thoughts of worry and fear limited my enjoyment of free time, FREE TIME! I mean, isn’t that why we send our kids to Kindergarten? of course not! lol. Hey mommas need time out too.
Throughout our first week of Kindergarten, I learnt and applied a few things that helped ease the transition and experience. So here are 10 tips that can help you and your sweeties survive a week of unfamiliar excitement.
1. They must feel safe: You need to help your child/ren feel safe in this new strange place. Have a trusted person (parent or guardian) take them around the Kindy. Show them you trust the setting and feel safe. Show them all the play areas and introduce them to every teacher that is present. You can even sit in each play area for a minute or two and allow your kid to explore it. This will also give mom the opportunity to observe how well her child will adapt to the new Kindy.
2. DO NOT sneak off: Tell them you’re leaving. The idea of sneaking off while your child is occupied always seem to be the best solution. Right? think again. Once they realize you’re not there they will be very upset. I would rather tell my kids I am leaving, let them cry, calm them down and then leave. What if they keep crying? If you’ve done everything you can, then it’s time to walk away. They’ve done most of their crying while you were there anyway. So by the time you drive away, your kid is in the sandpit building a sand castle.
3. Practice: Depending on how well your child can cope with being away from you, practise by doing only half days or less. I did exactly this with my girls and it worked well for us. We quite enjoy doing half days, so I think we will stick with it for a while. Little steps at a time will definitely help mommy and child enjoy the new change,
4. Get to know the teachers: Take time to converse and get to know the teachers. It is my duty as a parent to get to know these people because once I walk out that gate, they have control of my daughters safety, confidence and childhood. Be sure of who you’re handing your child over to.
5. Anything bothering you?: If there is anything in the Kindy that rings an alarm or makes the red light flicker, address it. On my first visit to the Kindy I heard a song play by Nelly – “Hot in Here”, What the heck? this is probably minor for some mothers, but for me the red light was flickering. I quickly gathered the courage to find the head teacher and addressed the matter. And you know what? She was grateful that I brought it up with her because it didn’t cross her mind how inappropriate the song was for young children until I mentioned it.
6. Walk away: Be ready to walk away. My oldest girl was a mess for three days, she would run in parallel to me as I walked to the car. It was heart-breaking to watch. But I learnt that it was okay to walk away from my crying child at Kindy. Believe it or not, it does get better and easier.
7. Talk about Kindy: Our car ride back home would be about their day spent at Kindy. I would ask them how their day was, who they played with and what they did. Every opportunity you get to talk about Kindy, do it.
8. Treat: This is not a bribe. On the first week of Kindy, I told my daughters they will get a treat when I return. My girls love watching planes take off and spotting them in the sky. So I told them we were gonna go plane watching. It’s okay to treat them during the first few days of Kindy. It’s a big job being away from mommy and daddy.
9. Have a friend: This is my own preference. I didn’t want to put my oldest girl into Kindy until her little sister was old enough to go with her. I’ve found that having my daughters go together has made Kindy more bearable for all of us. Tehani takes her older sister duties very seriously. She comforts her crying little sister and helps to unwrap her food. The teachers are always sharing wonderful compliments with me about their relationship as sisters and as friends.
10. Embrace: As soon as they catch a glimpse of me entering their Kindy, they come running, screaming “momma! momma!” It is the most beautiful sound to my ears. I embrace them with a hug to show them my appreciation and how proud I am of them for doing kindy all on their own!