5 Tips for Parent Survival in Kindergarten

A children’s garden – such a sweet notion for such a big step for 5 year olds into the world of education!

Checking out kindergarten blogs and chats, the ones I found were by kindergarten teachers – I was looking for one by parents.  I had a recent conversation with a dad whose daughter is starting school this year. My kids are past that stage, but I remember some very significant parts of entering the school system.  And I’m sure parents have lots of thoughts about that first big step into an Institution.

Tips on Parent Survival in Kindergarten:

1. Be prepared to give up some control of your child’s day

Sorry to tell you this, but parents don’t run public education.  If you are used to having a say in how your child’s preschool or day care hours go, this will be a big adjustment.  There are much larger systems at play here – the operative word is “public”.  There are processes in place that manage large groups of students, faculty and staff.  I encourage you to share information on your child’s individual circumstances, likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. but know you will likely have to repeat them over a period of time in order to be heard over the din of many messages, tasks and pressures.

2. Don’t make assumptions about teachers

Reputations are often based on a few people speaking loudly and repeatedly.  The teacher known as one of the best in the system may be a mismatch for your child.  Just as the one with a weaker reputation may be just right for your child.  It took us awhile to realize that part of our job as parents was to help our children figure out how to get along with and work with teachers they might not like or who might not like them. If you see a significant problem, talk first to the teacher and then the principal. Don’t just complain to other parents – deal with it as directly as you can.

3. Volunteer to help in the classroom

There’s nothing quite like being there.  You get a better feel for the atmosphere in the classroom, an understanding of the structure of the day, and you can observe how the children handle it.  Kids that age love to have their parents participate and because not every parent can do it, you become a parent rep for many of the children in the room.  If your child sees you helping another child, she/he learns about acceptance and the value of learning.  You can also identify needs in the classroom that you can help address.

4. Have lunch with your child

At least once that first year join your child for lunch and eat what they are serving (Really, you have to try out a school lunch and you might be pleasantly surprised!).  It’s a great chance to hear from classmates, talk about food likes and dislikes, and let them ask you questions.  Kindergarteners have such a wondrous curiosity and enthusiasm – enjoy this break time with them. (It also helps the teachers if you help out at lunch. Can you imagine no breaks in your job?)

5. Talk to your child

Here are experiences they are having without you.  Ask about school, about friends, about what she/he is learning.  Share your thoughts about it – connect what they are learning to something at home.  Continue the education – cooking, housework, gardening, reading, playing… most of all, just talk with your child along the way.

Kindergarten can be an amazing garden, full of many new varieties. You can learn too!  Your child may bring home new ideas.  You may learn about different cultures, different family structures, different holidays or celebrations, different religions.  It’s an opportunity to help your child learn how to get along with lots of different types of people.  They are stepping out into the world – in a wonderful, exciting way.