Entering public school is an exciting time for your child. They get to ride the school bus, make new friends and engage in countless educational activities. If you’ve never had a child enter Kindergarten you may not know what to expect. Both you and your child will go through a wide range of emotions on the first day of school. Read on so you feel prepared for this monumental moment.
What You Might Might Be Feeling: Sadness
That’s right, don’t be surprised if you’re that mom standing beside the bus, slow waving to your child with tissues in hand and tears flowing. If you can help it, try to hold back your tears until after your child is out of sight. This is supposed to an exciting day for them. Seeing you sad might cause your child unnecessary worry or stress. They’ll wonder why mommy is crying on such a happy day. But crying as you send your child off to school for the first time is perfectly natural.
You’re likely accustomed to being with your child for most of their day. You have been the staple in their life since birth and now, it’s time to start letting go. This can cause feelings of sadness and even grief. You may feel like you’re losing a small part of yourself. But don’t worry. Your child will be equally as excited to bound off the bus and run into your arms as you’ll be to greet them.
Your child will be in the care of his/her teacher and other school employees for hours at a time. This may be something you’re not used to. It’s completely normal to worry about if your child is safe, happy and well taken care of when they’re not with you. No one will care for your child the same way you do because you’re their mother. But teachers and other school officials are trained to nurture your child and keep them safe.
Your tears on the first day of school will likely be a combination of sadness at realizing your child is growing up mixed with pride over this same fact. As mothers, our primary responsibility is to nurture our children and teach them the ways of the world. Our jobs are complex, to say the least. It’s our job to make sure our children feel safe and nurtured but we must also foster their independence, self-worth and accountability.
At this moment you’ll realize that all your hard work paid off. They really do listen! And you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of pride over the accomplishments of both you and your not so little one.
What Your Child Might Be Feeling: Excitement
Most children love experiencing new things. Their excitement will likely start with riding the school bus. They’ll be excited to see their classroom, meet their teacher and make new friends. Kindergarten rooms offer so many activities and ways for your child to interact, discover and learn.
New and unknown experiences can be exciting for children but they can also be somewhat stressful for others. And everyone deals with stress differently. Don’t be surprised if your child is equal parts nervous and excited on the first day. If they’ve never been in childcare before they’re likely not used to being away from you for so long.
It’s completely normal for your child to feel nerves on the first day of school. And don’t be surprised if those nerves last long after the first day. Once your child becomes comfortable with the new school routine, their classroom and expectations, their nerves should subside.
Though your child will most likely be extremely excited to share the details of their first day, don’t be surprised if they feel a little overwhelmed. Keep in mind that this is the first major life experience your child is having. They’ve lived in the bubble of your home life, mixed with potential daycare, play dates and vacations. But as far as being on their own and exploring their independence, school is a completely new experience for them.
Try helping your child break down their day by time. Ask them the order of their day. Is seat work first? What happens right after lunch? This will help them to mentally understand when their school day is half over or it’s just begun. Children have an internal curiosity. The more information they have about their day, the better they will manage all of these new experiences and responsibilities.
Embrace the New Experience—Together
Entering school is a monumental time in your child’s life but it’s also a big change for you, mom. Be prepared to experience a wide range of emotions from pride and excitement to worry and sadness. This is normal, as are all the feelings your child will go through. But in the end, school is where your child will begin to discover who they are and who they’re meant to be. And that’s a pretty exciting concept.