|Fran on his first day of Kindergarten in 2009.|
Dear Kindergarten Parent,
Kindergarten is fabulous. Your child will have a lovely year. But there are a few things to consider. First, give your child and his/ her teacher a chance. Trust that you have helped your little muffin grow into a beginning kindergartner. He/she is capable, competent, and cute. Be very careful about listening to neighborhood "talk"; give you and your child the chance to develop a relationship with the teacher without baggage that isn't even yours. When Fran was in Preschool*, I pretended to be laid back and just waved at pick-up instead of storming the teacher and pumping her for information (as I saw other parents doing.) I acted normal for at least three weeks. Also, consider your level of contact. If your child is a typical kid, daily contact is unusual. When I send an e-mail as a parent- I think, "Hmm...how will this be received?" before I hit send. But remember, teachers think that important things like dismissal changes and big confusions for parent or child should be addressed quickly.
Next, if the classroom environment doesn't meet your expectations, please remember that it's the first day. The longer I taught, the less "stuff" I put up. I trusted the children to create our learning space with me. Also, a slow introduction of materials ensured their proper care and an understanding of their importance. Wait and watch and see how the environment flourishes once its community members are learning in the space before reacting.
Be gracious to teachers, support staff, secretaries, assistants, custodians, principals, students, and parents. You'll be at this school in this community for a while. I think there's a saying about crapping and a nest that would fit quite nicely, but I'm trying to swear less. In addition to having more functional relationships, it just plain feels good to be friendly. Another good tidbit is to avoid gossip- walk away, make an excuse. Gossip is toxic- and I don't want that around my kid. Looking at a clock and saying, "Oh, no...I have to run!" is a good excuse for those situations. (My manifesto about being an advocate for your child might be helpful advice, but there is some swearing, so don't click if the a-word scares you...)
Finally, in my experience both personally as a parent of school-aged children and professionally as a classroom teacher, parents are barometers for children. They will react when pressure is rising. When you blow up, it affects your kid. I know I have a lot of power as a parent to control the climate with my own reactions, expressions, conversations, and feelings.
That being said, jump in. Kindergarten is wonderful and Kindergartners are terribly sweet. Enjoy yours... because pretty soon he/she will be a second grader.
Been there, done that...and loved it
* I did send Mrs. Z a note in the first weeks of Kindergarten about an incident at Free Choice. It was initially 3 pages- so I edited it to 2 and then 1 page. I watched Mrs. Z read it and then say, "Francis, we talked about this yesterday- is everything OK?" and then- I thought my kid was a stinker and since his teacher was on top of it, he was on his own.