Posts Tagged ‘starting school’

Kindergarten and My Baby

We had a busy and fun summer but my kids were excited to be heading back to school. This is a big year for us: my 8-year old is entering grade 3, the first year where standardize testing takes place; my 6-year old is moving into grade 1, full-day school, lunch away from home and a step toward a more structured classroom environment; my 3-year old is starting school for the first time, venturing on her own and leaving me without any kids in the afternoon.

My two oldest were great. They headed into the school yard without even a glance back. My 3-year old, who attends school in the afternoon, was disappointed that she couldn’t go into school with her siblings; she wanted to start school now.

When my two older kids entered school I wasn’t too worried about how they’d adjust; they are both outgoing like their dad. My 3-year old is more like me, content to be on her own and somewhat overwhelmed by new people and new environments. I sort of expected that her first day of school would be one of those stereotypical crying and fussing about leaving me but then she went to summer camp. My shy, introverted little girl spent 5 days, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for 4 weeks at camp without me. She loved it.

When September arrived my concerns about my 3-year old adjusting to school subsided. Even her first day of school, with both me and her dad there to see her off, she was in the school without a second thought. Yes! This last trip through kindergarten will be much smoother than I thought.

Famous last words.

Day two. A completely different story. My 3-year old was fine when we arrived before the bell, she even played hopscotch with some of the other girls, but when the bell rang and the kids were lining up she didn’t want to line-up with them. As all the other kids walked in my 3-year old stood behind me, gripping on my leg. Eventually her teacher was able to lure her in with the promise of a new smelly markers in the writing center.

Day three. The morning was great but as we sat down to lunch my daughter confessed she didn’t want to go to school. In the playground she relaxed a little when she recognized some of her friends but as soon as the bell rang the leg grabbing started again. This time I was able to persuade her to go into the class, walking in with her friend.

Day four. This was the hardest day. My daughter was fine in the school yard though I couldn’t convince her to play with the kids at all. The bell rang and her little hands wrapped around my legs but this time she wouldn’t let go. Her teacher and the teaching assistant couldn’t get her in without prying her off of me. I left with her crying and pleading not to go. It was awful. Even writing about it now upsets me so.

I may have lamented in the past about my two older kids venturing off into the next stage of their lives without so much as a tear or glance back. But now that I’ve experienced that reluctance, I still felt sad, a gut wrenching sadness. I would rather feel the mom sadness you feel as your child moves on without your assistance over the sadness you feel because your child is unhappy.

At the end of school she was fine. Her teacher said she was fine the first few minutes she entered the classroom. I expected that much; that’s the only reason I could walk away from her with tears in her eyes earlier that day. I hope, for both her sake and mine, things get easier; I’m sure I won’t feel this way at the time, but right now I look forward to the day when my daughter rushes into the playground to join her friends and I’m a second thought.

I knew having kids would be hard but I guess ignorantly I thought it would get easier after three kids, easier as they get older. The opposite seems to be true.

Today is another school day. Only time will tell if it starts off with tears or smiles. I’ll probably be sad either way.

Write a Review Wednesday: Emily’s First Day of School, Helping Hand Books

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Charlesbridge’s Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat (age 5-8). With my youngest starting school this fall, I thought we’d look at Emily’s First Day of School (age 5-7), written by Sarah, Dutchess of York and illustrated by Ian Cunliffe. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Kids Publishing for my review copy.

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My 3-year-old received a welcome postcard from her new school today though school doesn’t start for another month. My daughter has been talking about school and even playing school games with her dolls and older sister, but sometimes pretend play can be different from the real thing.

Sterling Publishing‘s delivery of Emily’s First Day of School was timed perfectly for us. Part of the Helping Hand Books series by Sarah, Duchess of York, Emily’s First Day of School deals with Emily’s adjustment from staying at home with her mom to being in school all day. I like how Emily is a little apprehensive about school, excited but nervous. I think most kids feel that way, unsure of the unknown. I know my daughter does.

The book takes a brief look at the first day of school, more like a top line approach. Emily makes friends and keeps busy during her day and can’t wait to tell her mom all about it. The book, like all the Helping Hand Books, are designed to address new experiences young kids may face. The Helping Hand Books are meant for parent and child to read together, to open discussion and dialog on the subject being read. At the back of each book there are some Helpful Hints for parents, to help make the adjustment easier for the child.

In Emily’s First Day of School, the hints talk about how to prepare your child, how to help your child express their feelings and ensure the first day of school goes well for everyone. Although most of the tips are familiar, after having two kids already in the school system, they are a great reminder that it’s still the first day of school for my youngest.

My daughter loved Emily in the book. As we read the story, my daughter was all about doing what Emily was doing: drawing pictures, playing in the playground, making new friends. The book was a great way to talk about how my daughter felt and what will happen at school this Fall.

The following books are also part of the Helping Hand Books series: Ashley Learns about Strangers, Matthew and the Bullies and Michael and his New Baby Brother.

You can add Emily’s First Day of School to your own personal library by visiting your local independent bookstore. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

How are you preparing your kids for the first day of school? Any books you’ve been reading?

Welcome to Kindergarten

You may already know my youngest daughter starts kindergarten this fall and how I’m a bag full of mixed emotions. This week our school, like many elementary schools across the province, held a kindergarten orientation for both the kids and the parents.

Most after school activities rotate around her older siblings (5 and 8-years old) so she was thrilled that this night was all about her; it was all she talked about the night before at bedtime, during the day, even during dinner time.

We arrived very early, almost the first ones there, due to my daughter’s uncharacteristically fast walking this evening. After an initial welcoming from the principal, the kindergarten teacher and the parent council representative, the kids (and parents) were divided into groups among four activity stations. Each station represented different aspects in the kindergarten room.

Reading Corner – There was a bookshelf containing a variety of different books, plus chairs and a carpet. The kids grabbed some book while the teacher explained how reading and language skills are dealt with in the classroom. She offered parents some tips on encouraging and building the child’s love and understanding of books too. My oldest daughter attended with us and relished in reading books to her sister.

Play dough – Next the group rotated to the play dough corner. Not surprisingly play dough activities seem to be the most popular in the classroom, according to the teacher. She talked about how beyond just playing with it, kids develop language and social skills, fine motor and creativity. Play dough is also great at exploring math concepts like more and less, big and little, numbering and so on. And here you thought it was just for grinding into the carpet. Arts and Crafts – This was my daughter’s favourite table, arts and crafts. The teacher talked about how using crayons and cutting help build fine motor skills important for writing. The arts and crafts area is use to explore a child’s creativity in pictures and stories. Even my 8-year-old loved this table and both girls didn’t want to leave for the next activity. Letters – The last activity area the kids explored was the letters section. Here the kids matched foam letters to a letter mat and played with letters on a magnet board. The teacher explained how to help kids at home with letter recognition with similar activities or getting them to point out letters they know in a story or on a cereal box, to talk about the letters used in their name and the names of their friends and families. Talking about the shape and sound of letters also helps in reading skills, word formation and spelling. She also said if parents are teaching kids to write their name at home, one of the first words kids learn to write, they should be taught that only the first letter in their name is upper case and all the other letters are lower case. Most kids are taught to write their whole name in upper case as these are easier letters to write, but it becomes a difficult habit to break in school. I know first hand about this with my son; it took us a long time to get him to write his name upper/lower. My youngest loved going to her kindergarten night with her big sister though I did have to remind my 8-year-old that the activities were meant for the kindergarten kids. Like a great older sister she wanted to help her younger sister roll the play dough flat or cut out shapes but that sort of defeats the purpose of learning on her own. It was hard for my oldest to stand back and observe, just like me. She’ll be a great mom one day. The last part of the evening was a bag of goodies for each kindergarten student. The bag contained information on local library programs and pre-screening tests, plus it included a whole bunch of supplies: crayons, paper, scissors, letters, even play dough with a play dough recipe. My daughter was so excited about her bag, she carried it all the way home on her own. And the next day she loaded her backpack and walked around the house pretending to go to school. The summer may go very slow for my eager daughter but it will zip by for me.