Monday, August 23, 2010

Starting School

My friend, Rebecca, is sending her first child off to kindergarten this week. I’ve been thinking about her a lot, and since I’ve walked the road she’s about to step onto, I thought I’d give her some pointers to help her through the minefield called “school.”

Be prepared. Take Kleenex on the first day. You might feel happy that, after all those loooooong years with your child at home, she’s finally heading off to a minimum of 13 years in the classroom. (I know I was.) But suddenly, on that first day, I found myself crying as I watched my daughter walk into the building. It hits you at the strangest moments, so be prepared.

Thankfully, that stage doesn’t last long.

Walk to school as much as possible, even when it’s 20 below zero. Because that might be the only time you have to tell her about boys when she will actually listen. And it might also be the only time she will tell you about how Johnny tried to kiss her on the playground the day before but she wouldn’t let him because she slugged him. Hard.

You might want to consider enrolling her in a self-defense program. That playground can be rough.

Enjoy your child’s new friends. They can teach you a lot about your child. Like how she’s the official classroom Play Dough taster . . . or how she likes to sing the “ABC” song at the top of her lungs in the hallway . . . or how she likes Johnny, really, even though she slugged him.

You know how they say there are no stupid questions? Don’t believe it. There are. Don’t ask the teacher about bathroom procedures. The kids will figure it out. Don’t ask if you can leave a couple of days early before Spring Break. It’s always better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

And finally, don’t ask how they teach reading—whether she uses a whole language or phonics-based approach. Because the teacher might just look strangely at you and tell you, “This is kindergarten. We don’t teach reading in kindergarten.”

Not that I would know anything about that. I’m just sayin’.

Field Day. This is a day toward the end of the school year when the entire school comes together to play games. Running games. Water games. Relay games. Games that would require proper attire, and by proper attire I DO NOT MEAN A DRESS. But unless you actually know what Field Day is, you might not know what proper attire for that event would be. Learn from my mistakes, or your children might remind you about how lame you are for the rest of your parenting life.

Which is forever.

And that brings me to my next point: the job never ends. It just gets harder.

So have fun with that one.

And while you’re at it, realize that you are about to embark on one of the most fun, most rewarding, most challenging at times, most amazing rides of your life. You’ll meet great people, some of whom will become your closest friends. You’ll learn when to speak up and when to be silent. You’ll learn more about your child than you ever thought you could.

School is awesome. I’m a big fan of school. I’m a big fan of you, too, Rebecca, and I know you will do just fine.

Enjoy the ride.



  1. Seriously? No reading in kindergarten? After Anna's first year of PRESCHOOl her teacher advised us to hold her back since she wasn't already reading and "most kids are when they enter kindergarten. They need to know how to read in kindergarten."

    I'll never be sure if the teacher just had a high opinion of her teaching skills or if she just thought my child needed an extra year but we waited another year to start kindergarten much to my child's chagrin.

    Did your J have to know how to read in K? They are the same age.

  2. Linda, I didn't mean to imply that my kids weren't reading in kindergarten. They were. Long before kindergarten, in fact. I was just concerned with the method that teachers would use to teach reading--apparently they didn't use any method at all at that time! (Maybe it was just that teacher.) I was happy to note, with my other two, that phonics is still being taught in schools. yea! And everyone now knows how to read. :)

  3. Thanks for those great words of advice. The bathroom procedures do worry me slightly, but I will be sure to keep quiet. I feel like I should warn her about detentions for disobeying ( I only got one once-in 4th grade. I guess that's different than kdg). And, the Kleenex are already in my purse, in case I forget about getting myself ready in the next 48hrs while trying to ensure she's ready.