What I Learned In Kindergarten
Any mom will tell you that starting school for the first time isn't easy. In my experience my child has always had such an easy transition. I've always had a much harder time than she has. Paisleigh went to a private preschool that I loved. I almost immediately started volunteering at her preschool from day one. Eventually, because I was already there all of the time, I took a part-time job with the school. I LOVED that she was getting to experience all that the preschool had to offer with me teaching a few doors down the hall. If you know me you know I'm pretty neurotic about my kids. Almost to a fault. We've never had a real baby sitter- only my mom or another super close relative. So, as you can imagine, the transition to Kindy was a tough one for this momma.
I need to start this post out by saying that the first and most important part of getting ready for kindergarten starts LONG before your child is school aged. For us, choosing to live within an amazing public school district was step one in being truly prepared for public school. While we do love our city, we chose to live here primarily because we were confident in the school district. So, with that being said, investigate- ask people that you trust and respect their opinion on the school your child will be attending. Take a tour to make sure the school is well maintained, chat with the staff, and look up statistics on how your school ranks in your state. I can't stress to you all how important it was for us to be in a district that we loved. It's even worth moving for- so, if you're in a situation where you might not be in a district you're comfortable with pray about it and make the moves necessary until you are. A good school that cares about its students and community is the absolute foundation of your child's education.
Because we had went to preschool year round for two years Paisleigh was sharp as a tack. Seriously, she could read quite a bit at three, spell and write her full name, and so much more thanks to a fantastic preschool program. If you haven't considered preschool I would highly recommend it. It really changed my child for the better- socially and academically. When it came time to start thinking about Kindergarten the first decision we had to make was when to send her. She turned five one month before school started and was going to be the youngest in her class. That was a tough one for us. We prayed a lot about it but in the end we knew she was ready. And luckily, we made the right choice by letting her go.
After we got over the initial shock that we would be sending our freshly five year old baby to Kindy that year I started thinking about the best ways to calm my nerves and hers. While she was pretty confident in going, my mind went a mile a minute thinking about things that could go wrong without me being there to help her. So, I made a list of my main concerns and I started teaching her how to survive at school without her mom (we've already addressed that I'm crazy). I started working with her two weeks before the first day of school.
HOW TO GET READY FOR KINDERGARTEN FROM YOUR FAVORITE NEUROTIC MOM BLOGGER:
- Lunchtime- if your child is going to be taking their lunch everyday (or getting a tray) it's time to teach them how to be completely independent when it comes to eating. I knew Paisleigh would be taking her lunch so we bought our lunch box and lunch container and everyday for the two weeks before school started I packed her lunch at home. I made sure she could zip and unzip the box, I made sure she could access everything inside her lunch box alone, I taught her to throw her trash away, I packed a wet wipe for her face so she didn't walk around all day with a pb&j covered mouth, You name it we prepped for it. Two weeks later on the first day of school I felt pretty good about her abilities to eat lunch on her own. Using a bento box for kids this young is great because you can unwrap everything for them. While there are cafeteria workers in the lunchroom to help your child, kids have very limited time to eat- So, if your child spends half of lunchtime with their hand raised to get help opening their raisins, they're going to be very hungry by the afternoon. I'm going to be linking my two favorite lunch containers at the bottom of this post.
- Shoes- a lot of kindergarteners can't tie their shoes. If they can, they're slow at it. I didn't like the thought of my five year old having shoes that weren't tied throughout the day. While her teacher would've gladly helped her, I knew that my child wouldn't be the only kid who needed that help. I decided that for Kindy we would do shoes that for the most part, didn't tie. My goal was to keep my kid and her teacher as stress free as I could. So, I found as many cute pairs of Velcro or no tie shoes that I could and we were both confident in not having to worry about her shoes when school started. If we did decide to wear shoes with strings, I always made sure to make a double knot so tight that I knew they wouldn't come undone. Also, my rule is NO FLIP FLOPS at school. It's so easy to trip, they're not playground friendly, and your kids might be tempted to take them off in the classroom. I'm going to link some of my favorite "no tie" shoes at the end of this post.
- Pants- The transition into Kindergarten is hard enough without the stress of clothing that's difficult to wear. I hated the thought of my kid not being able to button or zip her pants in the first year.. I mean, what if the zipper breaks? What if it sticks? What if she can't get the button through the hole and the bell is ringing AHHHHHH (seriously, I'm nuts) but, I think it's super smart to dress your kids in easy clothes for school. Girl moms- leggings are your friends! Boy moms- denim pull on joggers are where it's at. You can eliminate so much hassle by sending your kids in what I call "kid confident clothing". Buy jeans with a stretchy waist and no button closure. trust me. I'll link a couple of cute and inexpensive options at the end.
- Spare Outfit- chances are your school list will tell you to pack one, but seriously do it. In the front pocket of your kiddo's backpack you should always keep a spare outfit including socks and panties. It could be a potty accident, they could throw up, heck someone else could throw up on them (it happens), and in that case the spare outfit is vital. Just make sure you swap it out as the seasons change.
- Snack- you'll probably be asked to pack a snack for the afternoon. And for awhile your child will be STARVING by then. Kids typically don't eat much at lunchtime the first few weeks because they're taking everything in. This isn't a time to try new foods for picky eaters so send things you know your kid will eat.
- Water bottle/Back Pack- Yep, you'll need both and yes, even in kindy, the backpacks get heavy. So, I recommend not going for the cheapest one you can find. We typically use Pottery Barn- not only because the quality is good, but because the straps are plush and my daughter says way more comfortable than her others. They wash great and can be used for several years if you want! They come in multiple sizes- buy the large. Make sure your water bottle won't leak and is big enough that your kiddo won't be needing to refill it multiple times a day.
- Socks- most kids go back to school in at least one new pair of shoes. Since you often don't know how the shoes will feel on their feet after a long day of play, make sure you have your child wear socks. The last thing you want is to find out that your child has been in pain half the day with a blister.
- Hair- if your kid has a long thick flowing mane like mine I highly recommend styling it out of his or her face during school hours. It's less distracting and aggravating in my opinion.
- Bullies and Belief Systems- our school takes a strong stand against bullying. If you hear a child say anything even slightly harsh to another student you're required to report it. I ask Paisleigh every single day after school if everyone was kind to her. She has always said they were. All schools are different- even though I'm confident in our school system it's still important to teach your child how to handle a bully. We chose to role play certain situations to make her feel prepared. We also explained that any type of hurtfulness needs to be told to the teacher immediately and then shared with us, her parents, at pick up time. Communication is key- I have a series of questions that I ask her every day after school to make sure we're staying on top of things. I encourage you all to do the same. You're going to run into kids who don't believe the same way that you do. For example, Paisleigh had child in her class one year that told her he and his family didn't believe in God- not everyone does, but we do. Be prepared to explain diversity with your child while still keeping your core belief system in tact. Teach respect while also reinforcing your own beliefs. We prayed for that little boy and his family... and still do. You'll also have kids that don't believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, etc.. Mine still does and we cherish those magical memories.
- Labels- I label all of Paisleigh's school supplies with her name. The kids often share school stuff which is fine by me, but we don't always buy the absolute cheapest stuff so I like to have the accountability of her name on her things. I've had several people tell me that stealing isn't all that uncommon in certain classrooms. We haven't currently experienced anything like that at this time.
- Lice/Germs- Before your child heads off to the land of learning it's important to have a chat about what things are ok to share and what things aren't. Go over your own personal list of things that you expect your child to never share with other students and make sure they understand why- hair brushes, lip gloss, food, drinks, hats, jackets, etc shouldn't be shared in my opinion. Lice is a situation that you don't want any part of and beyond that illness' at school can spread like wildfire even if you're not sharing personal items. Also, we like to use special shampoo and detangler that repels lice. The brand is Fairytales and you can find it at target.
- Handwashing/Sanitizer- your child should be practicing good handwashing long before they head to school. Chances are your teacher will encourage this anyway, but it's important to remind your Kindergartener often to wash their hands at school. Also, I keep a keychain hand sanitizer on the front of my child's back pack as well as a mini sanitizer inside her lunchbox so she can use it before she eats. We are rarely sick (thank goodness). Our favorite sanitizers come from Bath and Body Works.
- Meet the Teacher- we are yet to meet a teacher we didn't like. We've had some of the absolute best and we are so grateful. Meet the teacher night is a fantastic time to ask any and all questions you might have about the classroom. What are the behavioral expectations? What type of discipline is used? What is the classroom schedule? How do I know when it's PE, Art, Music, etc? Where do I sign up to help with class parties? PTA? What supplies could I purchase for the classroom? Your teacher should be a wealth of information on how the year is going to go. If you can, get your teachers phone number, I've always been able to text our teachers if I had questions. They've even sent me photos of my child throughout the day! Communication is absolutely the key.
These are some of the main things that I feel like really helped us get started on the right foot. It does take some prep, but I promise it's so worth it in the end! I'm thrilled to answer any questions you might have and I'll be praying hard for all of my new Kindy mommas this fall! It's not easy, but you can do it!
For some reason my links aren't working- I'm going to list a few of my favorite brands for you guys and I'll fix the links this week.
Boys Clothing- H&M is my top pick. TONS of stylish jogger pants without a button/zipper super affordable, too!
Girls Leggings/Joggers- H&M, GAP, OLD NAVY, OSH KOSH, Matilda Jane Clothing, Nordstrom
LUNCH Containers- YumBox and Planet box are two good ones. We currently use a Planet box and love it but they're an investment.
Shoes for boys- Velcro Converse, retro Velcro Nike/Adidas, Cat and Jack for Target,
Shoes for girls- Velcro converse, Velcro Twinkle Toes by Sketchers, Mary Jane style shoes by Tucker and Tate, Livie and Luca, Anything Velcro by Cat and Jack for Target