First Days of Kindergarten

Today was my oldest child’s pre-k orientation day. Let me preface this story with
the fact that I went back to work when each of my children were eight months old
and they have been in a school setting since they were very young; I thought today
would be no different than any other which signaled the onset of our fall transition.
I was mistaken.

As I walked my daughter into her pre-k classroom, made small talk with the
teachers, watched her find her name tag and settle right into a seat; crayon in hand,
confident smile on her face, tears filled my eyes. The realization that she was “so
big” overwhelmed me and the once-easy, “good-bye”, now was an act of hesitation,
solely on my part.

Although I have been kissing my children good-bye and wishing them a wonderful
day for years, I get it; the reality of life simply catches you off guard. This is still
Pre-school and I never thought the send-off next year would be difficult and now my
tune has changed.

As a kindergarten teacher, I witness this situation every September, but from the
outside, looking in. This perspective is one that I now wish all parents had because
I truly understand how it feels to entrust your child to another person, in a new
setting, likely with new peers, eight hours a day, five days a week, and I know that
they will be ok.

I am fortunate to understand that 99% of the time, when kids cry, they possess a
huge smile within five minutes. When kids are filled with enthusiasm for school, the
teacher is equally motivated because this sense of comfort and faith in the situation
is as contagious as the tears and now he/she can begin to initiate learning and the
friendships that lie ahead.

In that moment of sadness at the pre-k door, I can look at my daughter’s teacher and
foresee that look on her face when June inevitably rolls around and the students
return to their families for another wonderful summer. As teachers we of course
hold this time in high regard, but the reality that these students who we have
nurtured for ten months, will not bounce into the room the following Monday, is a
bit melancholy. Teachers look forward to meeting and growing with their new class
and we strive to create a family within our classroom walls. It’s hard for us to say
good-bye as well.

Of course, seeing my daughter so comfortable and content, eager and hopeful, filled
my own heart with joy and contentment, but at the same time I couldn’t help be
amazed as I thought, “She needs me a little less today”. Fortunately for my ego, the
teacher-side of me remembered that this is not the case at all. It is because of me
that she is self-assured and prepared, that she is friendly and able to feel secure and
loved.

It is my hope that you as a parent are more at ease after reading my thoughts. If
your child is in need of reassurance whether prior to school, two weeks or two
months in, and you feel that you are unsure of what else you could do, I suggest
using books as a way to ease their transition. The simple act of reading to them
will not only provide the m with comfort, but as they remember and connect these
stories to their life, they will have your voice in their heads and the message you
intended in their hearts.

The Kissing Hand
Audrey Penn
The Night Before Kindergarten
Natasha Wing
First Day Jitters
Julie Danneberg
Tiptoe Into Kindergarten Jacqueline Rogers
On The Way to Kindergarten
Virginia Kroll
Clifford Goes to School & Clifford’s First Day of School Norman Rockwell
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten Joseph Slate
Franklin Goes to School
Bourgeois & Clark

 

Kindergarten Readiness

Tara Hudson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education at The University of Delaware and her Master’s Degree in Education at Stonybrook University. Tara has taught for ten years in the Westhampton Beach School District. Currently in her sixth year as a kindergarten teacher, her passion is working with children each day and watching them grow socially and academically. Tara has done freelance work for The Patch and her writing has also appeared in The Waldo Tribune and Macaroni Kid. Tara lives on Long Island with her husband, children and dog.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising and being outdoors.