How many times a week do you look at your Little One and think, “I was just pregnant with you…”? As I stare at my calendar entry that reads “Jaxon’s Graduation,” I find myself inadvertently touching my belly and repeating, “Wasn’t I just pregnant with you?” But the truth is, no, I wasn’t.
In fact it’s been almost five years since I’ve been pregnant. And my little one isn’t a newborn – he is, in fact, a preschooler. Well, after June 11th, he will actually be a kindergartner. And although I am swollen with pride and excitement for my son, I am also at a loss for what happens now.
This transition into kindergarten is just as overwhelming as buying him his first can of shaving cream and razor. I didn’t realize how many changes actually take place. There’s the location of school, classroom size and the idea of going to a school with more than five classrooms, that can all be very overwhelming to not only your LO, but to you as well. The idea of my little 5-year-old walking around such a large place is daunting.
From now on, there will be school lunches, homework, field trips and parent teacher conferences. My son seems to be equally excited as he is nervous. Although he talks about going to “big kids’ school” with excitement, he also asks almost on a daily basis if any of his friends will be there. A month ago I decided that I needed to put a plan into action to ease everyone’s anxiety.
So here is Operation Anti-Kindergarten Anxiety:
Drive By The School Often. I am very fortunate to have his new elementary school near our home and his preschool. So, now on the way home from school, we drive by his new school. In fact, as much as I can, I will drive him by or walk by the school so that he can get familiar with the area around the school. He’s commented often about how close it actually is to our home. And to emphasize this, I have actually walked him over to the school from our house to show him that at any point during the day, if I need to, I can come and get him. He isn’t too far away from me or our home.
Play Date At School and/or With Future Classmates. The parent association at the new school provides an incoming play-date for the kids and a get together for the parents before school begins. The play-date for the kids is at the school on the kindergarten playground. Some of the teachers are there, and it’s all incoming Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten families. My son was very nervous walking up, but once he was inside and realized that all the kids there had never been there before either, he fell right in and started playing. He actually made some new friends AND saw some of his friends from his preschool. The kids also got the opportunity to see where they would be going to school and just get familiar with their surroundings. It’s also kind of nice to be able to meet other parents under a relaxed setting.
Go School Shopping As A Family. Even though my son’s father and I are no longer together, we try to do things together during a time in our son’s life when his anxiety is high. Going together as a unit to shop for school clothes & supplies is a great way to get your LO excited about school. Let them pick out what kind of lunch box, backpack, etc. they want. Also let them pick out their first-day-of-school outfit.
Get Started On School Schedule Early. Our preschool schedule was pretty lax. Sometimes I wouldn’t get my guy to school until 9/9:30 am. That can’t happen in elementary school. Take the last week or two of summer break and start the school morning and evening routine. That way, that rocky first week of school won’t be so turbulent with a grumpy kindergartner each day.
Make Lunches Together. Take them to the grocery store and let them pick out what they would like to have for lunch for the first week. Also, think about maybe taking snacks for your LO to share with the whole class. It’s a nice transition into making new friends.
Now, I did have on my list, “DO NOT CRY.” But who am I kidding?! I’ve cried every first day of school since he started preschool… back when he was only going two days a week. I’ve cried when he’s hugged me a little too hard! I’m a mom. Moms cry! What I can’t do is cry in front of him. I’m practicing some breathing techniques now, so that I can breathe and hold back the tears until I’m safe and sound in my car. Then I can boo hoo until 2:30 pm when it’s time to pick him up! You can laugh and act all tough gal if you want to! Oh, yes, tissues are on sale at Target this week!
Brooke Abbott is a single mother of a young son, Jax Lee Coltrane. They currently reside in Los Angeles. Brooke is the creator and blogger for The Crazy Creole Mommy Chronicles, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Mommy Advocate and the LA Happy Mama rep for Happy Family Brands. Brooke has also written for The Right Start blog owned by popular baby store, The Right Start, Single Mom Planet & Kuyam. She has been featured in The Phoenix Ostomy Magazine, Everyday Health, Crohn’s & Colitis Effect Round Table, Jet Magazine, US Weekly, LifeScript & CCFA.org.
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