You are officially a New Kindergarten Mom. Congratulations! I was in your shoes exactly one year ago and I know exactly how you are feeling. You’ve just finished Kindergarten round up and are still in that “I can’t believe he/she is going to kinder in the fall” state of mind. Having a new kindergartener can feel a little overwhelming (it is) and like a lot to take in (it is). Although I am no expert on being a Kindergarten Mom just yet, I have certainly learned a lot over the last year. Here are a few tips I will pass along:
You’re going to be asked to volunteer a lot and it’s ok to say no – trust me, you will still be asked to volunteer again. The PTA is always going to be there and they will always gladly accept help at any point in the year. If you want to take on a big responsibility right out of the gate – go for it! But if you simply want to sign up for a one time thing, or want to feel the year out before you commit to something, that is ok.
Schedule after-school activities early in the week. One tip we learned from other parents and from personal experience was to schedule after school activities earlier in the week. The kids are spent by Thursday and Friday, so if they are going to do dance, soccer, gymnastics, etc., if possible, schedule their class Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Pick and choose after school activities. There are so many fun things for kids at this age to participate in – soccer, Girl Scouts, karate, ballet, baseball, basketball, Adventure Guides, etc. So many things, so little time. Just remember, they are only 5/6 and there is a lot of time to try out different sports and activities.
Get out of the car. As convenient as carpool pick up is (especially when the weather is crummy) after school is a great time to get to know other parents. At our school, nice weather = after school playtime and a big group of kids stay to play on the field or playground. It is during this time I have made some really amazing new friends. That group of moms I met in the first few weeks of school have gone from “the other kinder moms” to “my friends” and we enjoy getting together without our kids. They are a fantastic support system and we help each other out whenever needed.
Create or join a school Facebook group. If your child’s kindergarten class doesn’t have a Facebook page yet, start one! It was a great way to connect with the other incoming kindergarteners from our school over the summer. We met friends at the school to play, at the spray ground, etc. On the first day of school my daughter recognized a lot of familiar faces and it made the transition much easier (for us all). It’s also a great way to connect with friends for impromptu get-togethers on the weekends, “We are heading to the school playground around 3, come join us!”
Get a calendar or a planner. I have always been an iCal gal, but there are so many little details and deadlines, it was easy for things to slip through the cracks. I went back to an old school pen and paper calendar…hanging in the kitchen. That way I can keep track of any snack day, library day, PTA meeting, soccer practice, and college t-shirt day that comes my way.
Buy duplicate school supplies and keep them at home. Not all kindergarteners have regular homework, but they will have things they may need to work on at home. After a week or so of having to dig out crayons or scissors from my daughter’s room, I put together a homework caddy with all the supplies needed. Now, whenever she has homework, it’s easy to access exactly what she needs.
Help the teacher from home. If you want to help the teacher, but being in the classroom is difficult for whatever reason (work schedule, other children at home, etc), consider asking the teacher to send things home for you. My daughter’s teacher will send home sheets she’s laminated and needs cutting out.
Lastly, make plans for yourself after drop off, bring big sunglasses and wear waterproof mascara. It’s completely normal to shed a few tears. Or cry all the way home. Kindergarten is a big milestone! But rest assured, they are going to have a great day and they are going to be SO EXCITED to see you after school and tell you all about it.