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.

You will always be their constant source of love and support. Entering school won’t change this. Your tears of sadness may also be associated with the sense of letting go. Your baby is no longer a baby. They are growing into a capable and independent person. Though this is our ultimate goal as mothers, it doesn’t make the reality any easier.

Worry

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.

If they need to contact you, they will. Whether it’s your child’ teacher, the guidance counselor or another staff member, everyone’s top priority is your child’s safety and happiness. You need to trust the school system and their ability to care for your child.

Pride

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.

We’ve all had those days where we wonder if we’re doing things right. Are our children really listening to us? Will they remember all of these life lessons we’re teaching them? Will they remember their manners? The first day of school is the time when all of these things come into perspective. Your child will surprise you with their independence, confidence and ability to succeed outside of your home.

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.

Prior to the first day, your child will likely have the opportunity to visit the school as part of an orientation day. This will familiarize them with the building, the location of their classroom and they may even get to meet their teacher. Seeing their desk and all their school supplies will also make them feel right at home in the classroom. Encourage their excitement. It will help create a smooth first day for you both.

Apprehension

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.

You might need to pep talk your child before putting them on the bus. Remind them of all the fun things they’re going to do and friends they’ll meet. Focus on the positive and reassure your child that you’ll be waiting for them as soon as their school day is done. Match their excitement with your own by saying things like, “I can’t wait to hear all about your day later” or remind them of fun toys and projects they learned about during orientation.

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.

Overwhelmed

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.

Not only that, but school days can be pretty long. Ranging from seven to eight hours, depending on the grade. Your child will need to get up at a certain time in order to have breakfast, get dressed and make it to school on time. All of these small responsibilities add up. They’ll also have homework and other tasks to complete both at home and in the classroom. Although these things are helping strengthen your child’s self-help skills that doesn’t mean it won’t be overwhelming at first.

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.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Mihail_fotdeti via Pixabay