As a family with two full-time working parents, balance and routine are key to a happy home. No matter what, kindergarten is a major shift in a family’s schedule. Here’s my advice about dealing with the change successfully and setting realistic expectations.
Don’t Compare Your Child. Kindergarten students come into the year on totally different levels. My son is on the younger side, and there were a handful of classmates who were a whole year older — and a lot taller. Whether your kid is the shrimp or the giant, the kid who can already read picture books or the kid who hates practicing letters, remember that abilities tend to even out through the years.
Establish a Sleep Routine. This might seem self evident, but it takes some time to figure out. Our son got into a bad habit because his full-day pre-school still required a naptime he didn’t need — meaning he wouldn’t go to sleep until far too late in the evening. No naps in kindergarten, so it took his body some time to adjust.
Get to Know the Teacher. Above all else, remember that you and your child’s teacher are on the same side. Parent-teacher conferences are important, but make sure to keep up the lines of communication throughout the year. Your child’s teacher knows what they need to work on — whether it’s academic or social. We were blessed to have an awesome kindergarten teacher. If for some reason you find that’s not the case, try to address any problems directly.
Expect Bumps Along the Way. Your child is probably going to learn some words you’d rather they didn’t know. They might even have an all-out conflict with another student. (Just like adults, not all personalities go together well.) Developmental or psychological problems might surface. Take these all in stride, and make sure to ask for advice from friends and experts along the way. School is a marathon and not a sprint.
Be Selective with Activities. The great thing about kindergartners is they are still figuring out their interests. Give them the opportunity to try different activities throughout the year, but don’t force any on them. Start slowly at the beginning of the year, so you don’t overwhelm them. We found one weekday extracurricular and one weekend activity were a good fit.
Find a Way to Get Involved. You probably won’t be running the school carnival when your first child is in kindergarten, but find a way to get involved — it’s really important to a school’s success. If you work full time like me, you might not be able to sign up for duty-free lunch on a weekly basis, but you can help supervise the course at the school’s 5K run.
If your school could use SignUpGenius, introduce it to the PTA or your child’s teacher. You’ll look like a genius!