Great Expectations: The First Weeks of Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a giant step from preschool. The hours in school will probably be longer, and the expectations are higher than the days when we went. Most states have rigid academic guidelines and standardized testing that doesn’t leave much time for play anymore. This can be challenging for both parents and children, so we’re giving you an inside peek on what’s happening in that little brain the first few weeks of kindergarten...

It’s My First Day. I’ll Cry if I Want To!

Parents and children are known to shed a few tears on the first day of kindergarten. This is a huge transition for you and your child, so it’s okay for both of you to cry – just not at the same time! Your little one may cling to your leg and make demands to go home but really, they do want to stay, just with you by their side while they go check out the inviting new surroundings.

Don’t worry, your teacher has been trained to deal with this and they’ll handle it far better than a highly emotional parent will. It’s okay to walk away, even if they’re crying. 

Hunger Pains

You may notice your child will be starving when they get home. At home, you may have offered snacks and they were able to eat meals at their own pace. Eating at school is dictated by a strict schedule. Take a closer look at any elementary cafeteria, and you’ll see kids talking more than eating. In addition, there isn’t much time between lunch and recess, and the playground is calling.

If they’re cranky when they get home on the first few days, that’s probably why. Allot enough time in the morning to have a hearty breakfast and have a healthy snack ready if you’re picking them up, or give them a snack to tuck in their backpack to eat on the commute home. 

Sleepy Town

The first few weeks of kindergarten are mentally and physically exhausting. The transition from summer to kindergarten can take its toll on their little bodies. They’re going from a non-structured day to a seven-hour day of instruction and routines with little down time. In addition, if you phased out naptime during the summer, they could be sleep deprived.

You may notice they’re talking back to you or ignoring your instructions when they get home, even after a snack. They’ve already used up all their good behavior at school, so by the end of the day, they’re just tuckered out. You may have to adjust their bedtime routine and get them to sleepy town a little earlier to ensure they’re getting enough sleep for the school day. 

I’m Never Going Back!

Some children will be super excited about going back after day one. Others may shout in protest that they are never going back. Let them vent about why they don’t want to go back. Focus on the fun things about kindergarten and the future days ahead of going on field trips and making new friends. Their feelings are likely due to exhaustion, adjusting to a new routine, and being away from home for a longer period of time. This too shall pass, and soon they will be a nonstop chatterbox about the day’s events. 

They’re Just Not That into You

Children at this age are just starting to navigate the waters of relationships. They know a little about understanding someone’s moods and feelings, but are more interested in just having a playmate, not making a friend for life. However, if your child is sensitive and perceptive, they may feel confused and bewildered about why someone is being mean, making it difficult to make friends.

Now is a good time to help them develop relationship skills while they are young. Talk about what makes a good friend by asking questions like “What is a good friend?” or “Why do you think she’s a good friend?” If someone doesn’t want to play with them, ask if they may have hurt the friend’s feelings, but also talk about how the friend may have been in the wrong too. Encourage them to ask the friend why they were mean, or if an apology is necessary on your child’s part, to give one.

Is your kiddo excited about kindergarten— or do they totally dread it? What are some issues you’ve already encountered with your kindergartener, and how did you help them cope? Share your stories with us!

Tags : education   school   kindergarten   milestones   

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