What your child DOESN’T need to know before starting Kindergarten

Small post…on a Sunday.  Not because I have something to link to, or some fabulous musical idea.  Not because I have a great story or a neat photo.  But I do have a really important (I think) thought.

As the new week approaches, so many of you are consumed by thoughts of sending your little people off into the big world of SCHOOL for the first time.  Whether that be preschool or Kindergarten, or something else entirely, no doubt there are bits (or LOTS) of apprehension looming in everyones’ hearts.  As a Kindergarten teacher who survived many first days, I was confident that when it came time as Mommy to send my first off to preschool, I would have NO trouble.  I would happily leave him behind, grateful for his chance at independence, and for a couple hours of one-on-one with my 1 year old.  I used to watch tearful mom’s on the first day of Kindergarten, sympathetic, but not overly understanding, thinking that they must be “softies” or overly attached to their children.  HOWEVER…last September as the first day of preschool loomed, I felt a growing anxiety in the pit of my stomach.  This was (IS) my BABY.  Off to school.  I very bravely accompanied him in, changed his shoes, hung up his bag and excitedly showed him around the room.  He and I…we did well in those moments.  Fast forward 10 minutes later, him screaming his head off, me driving home through wretched sobs, trying to concentrate on the road through my tears.  We both adjusted just fine, of course, yet there is that same anxiety growing in me…relating mostly to the thoughts of: he is growing up.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

I digress. 

First day of preschool.  First day of Kindergarten.  All parents can’t help but think: are they really ready?  Do they know what they “need” to know?  Their ABC’s and 123’s?  How to count to 10?   How to print their name?  How to name body parts, identify patterns, hold a pencil?  Sit quietly, not ask silly questions, be attentive, follow rules?  Make friends?   There is so much chit chat out there about kids being “ready” for Kindergarten and I am here to tell you: they are ALWAYS ready for Kindergarten. 

Kids are amazing creatures, really.  They are flexible, adaptable and SMART, oh so smart.  They are accepting, understanding and open to everything.  Every child comes from a different story, and I think kids inherently know that.  Some kids come in knowing ALL of the above and more, others know none of it.  The beauty of Kindergarten is that is DOESN’T MATTER.  These aren’t professionals applying for a job, all needing the same skills, competing against each other in what they know and can do.  These are children, ready to take on the world, all starting from their own place.  They have not yet learned what they “can’t” do.  They are going to Kindergarten to do all the learning they are ready for, from the spot they are at.  A good teacher knows that the most important part of his or her job is to figure out these spots, to get to know each child and love them through it all. 

As a Kindergarten teacher, I believe with all of my heart that above anything else, it is our job to teach these little people to love school.  They have many years of it ahead of them and to stick them with such expectations so early on can be detrimental.  Don’t get me wrong; one of my other heart-felt beliefs is that kids are capable of amazing things, all they need is an adult to believe.  If we think they can do it, they will do it.  As parents and as educators together, we must take the stance of engaging our children in Kindergarten so that they will develop a love of learning.  We need to appreciate that although they may not come home with a new academic skill every day, they have learned how to take turns.  Or how to think of somone else’s feelings.  How to solve a puzzle, brighten someone’s day or tie their shoes.  All pretty big milestones, needed in the world no?  Important learning that must be celebrated. 

Let go of the “ideals”.  If your child knows all the academic stuff they “should” know, don’t kid yourself – there will be so many other important things to learn inside the classroom walls.  If they don’t know it, they will learn it when they are good and ready.  Trust me, they all get there.  Your little one is ready for Kindergarten because he/she will do just fine on his/her own time.  They will learn to separate.  They will learn to follow a routine.  They will learn their alphabet and numbers and colours and patterns and how to hold a pencil and how to write their name and how to ask good questions and, and, and. 

Give your kid the best gift you can as they start Kindergarten: some love, some heartfelt optimism, and the belief that they already know it all…because they do.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen Bearden
    Sep 02, 2012 @ 21:42:01

    Thank you for this post today! It is so timely, as my “baby” just finished his second week of kindergarten. And as a teacher, I had visions of how it was “supposed” to be, and believe me–it has happened the way I thought it would. WAY more tears than I anticipated, and WAY more concern about what he knows or doesn’t know how to do. But I know that under it all, I believe that he will have his needs met WHEREVER he is, and he will soar! He has an amazing teacher, is in an amazing school (I know, because I teach there!) and is an amazing kid! Thanks for the reminder that this too shall pass, and he will have a great year. 🙂

    Reply

  2. music4munchkins
    Sep 02, 2012 @ 22:08:26

    Isn’t it funny that how we think being “teachers” will arm us to be better “parents”?? When in the end, I think being “parents” enables us 100% to be better “teachers” (although sometimes hard to differentiate between the two). Ultimately, they WILL all succeed in their own ways…each child has their own things to learn at their own pace and your little guy will do awesome! Thanks for reading! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Trackback: MY FIRST DAY AT KINDERGARTEN « katjusaparentingblog

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Margaret A. Powers

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