Robert Fulghum once wrote a very popular book titled “All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten.” Maybe you’ve seen it paraphrased on a poster somewhere. While things like clean up your own mess and saying sorry are timelessly important, my first year as a Kinder Mom has taught me a lot.
1. Be on time. Few things are sadder than arriving 5 minutes late and watching your daughter sob her way through the lunch line (true story). Also, don’t ever EVER be late picking your child up. If there is a true emergency, call the school’s office to let your son or daughter know exactly what happened and that you’ll be there soon.
2. Keep a calendar and set reminders if possible. Today is the last day of school and I still don’t know which days Ky needed her sneakers. There are also spirit days, half days, homework assignments and fundraisers to keep up with. If you think you’re going to keep your schedule and hers in your head, you’re seriously mistaken.
3. Stick to routines. If your child is used to getting a snack when he or she comes home, don’t deviate from schedule! This goes for homework, guided readings and bedtime. Obviously, things will come up but for the most part, she should know what needs happen and when.
4. Get to know the other parents and make friends. Chances are they know the best places to take dance lessons, what sicknesses are going around and can recommend a babysitter at the drop of a hat. This is also a great way to set up play dates over those long summer months.
5. Be open with your teacher. If your child is struggling, don’t assume his or her teacher is an “A-word” or that you’ll fix the problem yourself. Honestly, they spent just as much time with your kiddo as you do. They probably have some insights.
6. Success is not always “work harder”; often it’s more along the lines of “let’s change directions.” When learning to read, sounding it out might not work. Don’t keep harping on sounding it out. Instead, try the slide-step method. If that doesn’t work, try working on phonics. There are so many ways to learn. Find what works best for your little one and make it happen.
7. Be there. I’m not going to sugar coat this one. Maybe you can only make one of their performances or do lunch on their birthday but no one ever says “I wish I spent more time at the office.” Check your priorities.
8. Be prepared for the onslaught of paperwork coming your way. Kindergartners are busier than you think and can easily bring home 5-10 pages a day. That doesn’t sound like much but by winter break, I was sorting through 2 trash bags worth of handouts and art projects. I think we’ve got it down to 1 manila folder’s worth of very special things we’ll be saving for years to come.
9. Ask them about their day. You’d be amazed by some of the things they’ll tell you. I discovered Kylie had a bully and was able to do something about it because I asked “How was your day?” I also found out she landed on yellow because she was giggling with her friend during story time. Occasionally, it’s about the things she finds on the playground like tarantulas and green lady bugs. Let them tell you everything now with the hope they’ll tell you what’s important later down the line.
10. Kindergartners are big kids too! With a little guidance, they can dress themselves, clean their rooms and walk the dog. Sure, it might take a little longer but let them do it themselves! You are instilling confidence and self reliance. This goes for those art projects you’ll be doing together as well. So what if her Valentine box doesn’t look like the one on Pinterest, she’s happy. That’s all that matters.
With that said, I ask my fellow Kindermoms and Kinderdads, is there anything I’ve missed? What would you add?