Dropping your child off at his first day of Kindergarten is so much different than 1st grade. It’s definitely a complete opposite experience for second grade. And third grade? Forget about it!
First of all, your child is scared his first day of Kindergarten. He’s got horrible thoughts of space alien teachers who eat vulnerable little children.
Or they think that because they are in Kinder, they are automatically expected to KNOW how to read and write and add and subtract without ever being taught how.
They may also even have horrid dreams that all the kids circle around him and taunt him till he pees his pants. And then they laugh and taunt him for peeing his pants.
This is where you come in. After you reassure him that none of this is going to happen, you also let him know that you will be there for him his first day. You will hold his hand throughout part, most, or all of their first day.
So of course you let your employer know you may not be in to work at all, or you might be a little late. You get there and walk him to the cafeteria, which is where they have to wait until the first bell rings. There time stands still.
It’s only about 15 minutes of waiting but it seems like an eternity.
Tic toc, tic toc.
Every single second seems like a minute.
And you can see him sweat with anticipation and fear of the unknown as if he was on death row or like liver and onion night at home. You see other kids walking in and guess what? They are just as nervous as your child. At least most of them are. You can always spot the second and third graders because they walk in like they own the place.
This just gives your child more to be afraid of. The horrible tales of older kids bullying them bursts through their imagination.
A first grader tries being friendly and says, “hi” but all he hears is, “Watch your back, kid! I’m gonna get youuuuuuu!”
The bell finally rings and you’re glad that part is over. You walk him to his class, where the teacher is waiting. She knows how nervous he is. She can see the frantic look in his big brown eyes. So she quickly introduces herself and shows him where to set his backpack. Her warm eyes and sweet smile lets you know that he’ll be in good hands, so you immediately feel at ease. The confidence in her voice lets him know that she knows what she’s doing and puts him at ease too.
He’s still apprehensive, of course. But now that he’s in the safety of the classroom away from the loud hustle and bustle of the cafeteria he feels a tiny bit better. So you take that opportunity to reassure him that everything is going to be ok.
He’s thankful, but quickly turns to you and pleads, “Please don’t leave yet, ok mommy?”
This lets you know that he’s almost ready, but not quite yet.
So you respond, “I won’t leave until you tell me to, ok? So when you’re ready, you just let me know.”
Sometimes as soon as other kids start strolling in they immediately get excited to start their day with their new friends and you’re excused from mommy duty. Other times, it takes a little longer, and that’s ok! You’re willing to stay as long as it takes for them to feel comfortable in their new environment.
The teacher calls them to the mat where they are instructed where to sit. You sit in the back of the class of course. He keeps looking back nervously to make sure you’re still there. You smile but sternly mouth for him to keep his eyes focused to the front of the class, where the teacher is going over important stuff like where the restroom is, what the class rules are, and what the consequences are if they don’t follow them.
She then reads them a book about some little boy or girl who is nervous on their first day of school, or something similar. She knows that reading about how it’s normal to be scared your first day, and how you will eventually overcome your fears will let the children know they are not alone. It works.
After the book is read, she shows them where the toys are. It’s play time! At first the kids are too shy but after a few minutes, they are walking up to each other and asking each other their names. They immediatley pick their best friend and start playing.
You stay within sight, but far enough away that you’re giving him his space. This is so that you don’t “cramp his style” as he eases into his comfort zone and is making his friends.
After a few minutes of this, he looks back eager to start his day and gives you a gigantic grin, and a thumb’s up. It’s time to go to work, mommy! Your job is here is done!