Here’s some stuff to practice with your kindergarten children to get them ready for the “big school”. Start now and maybe the transition will be easier for everyone. First of all, tell them not to worry about where they are supposed to line up on the first day. We'll find them. Believe me, we need every body for our 3rd Friday student count upon which all federal funding depends. Have your child bring all supplies on the first day. That way, there will be no worries about what you need to send and if the teacher is going to remind your little sweetie yet again that the 20 sharpened pencils were due on day 1. Be sure a name is on everything that it's supposed to be on, like P.E. shoes.
Speaking of names, be sure your child knows his real name and how to say the first and last. The office list that teachers get has your child’s legal name so if you’ve called Jennifer, “Neffy” for her whole life, she may not know we’ve been yelling at her for the last three minutes. Knowing how to spell it would be helpful too, even if the writing part isn’t quite right. Teachers will thank you.
Oh, and self-dressing. It's a pain for teachers to have to tie shoes, button buttons, zip zippers, push on boots, pull on mittens and buckle snowpants. I figured it out once and with a class of 20, there are about 200 things children would have you do before they went out, if you let them get away with it. That's a lot to ask of a teacher. Imagine yourself at work. It’s the end of the day. Everyone lines up at the door but they are just standing there, looking down at open jacket zippers and Allen Edmond laces. You tell them to hurry up because you have a cocktail party to go to. You then realize that it’s on you to prepare them for the endlessly disappointing Wisconsin weather, so you start with the first in line and twenty minutes later bid the last a fond farewell. Every day.
The desire for girls to wear beautiful necklaces, hair adornments, bracelets and rings is understandable. We get it. However, they function as accessories only for a few minutes. Then they morph and become toys, lost, broken, fought over, tangled or taken away desk drawer items.
Children are often afraid of the lunch room. It’s big and noisy and full of unmet people. Here are some ideas you can give your child to use in potentially sticky situations. If some other kid asks for their dessert, tell them to say, “Sure, but I just sneezed on it.” If a bathroom stop is necessary but the supervisors say no, tell your child to start jumping up and down with hands together down and in front of them as though they were trying to stop what is soon to happen. Repeating, "I really gotta go!" over and over will add the extra urgency to break through even the most veteran school personnell. We've all learned what happens when you insist a child can wait.
Send a bag lunch for the first couple weeks. It’s much easier. Child goes in, sits down, eats, tosses the trash and leaves. That way they’ll have time to watch what to do when they eat hot lunch around October when you get sick of packing healthy good impression food lunches.
The bathrooms are crazy places. They are generally not in the direct purview of adults so can become a bit intimidating to the little ones. A trick older kids like to pull is to go in the stall, lock the door and then crawl under the door so when other kids come in they just stand there. It’s a hoot, apparently. Teach your child how to check for feet, and then if the situation is dire, how to crawl under the door and unlock it. Then tell ‘em to be sure to wash their hands and tell their friends to do the same. Thanks for that.
Washing hands. Children love the soap dispenser and love playing with the bubbly froth they can work up with half a cup of liquid gold on them. This extends the amount of time they spend in the bathroom quite considerably and may easily end with a teacher’s head breaking through the calm of the moment yelling something about looking for you for the last fifteen minutes. Oh, and if they ask to go to the bathroom when they don’t need to, teachers eventually recommend that parents have your bladder checked, so just go when necessary. Teachers know all the ways kids try to get out of doing work.
Hopefully, this first installment of advice won’t just make things worse. I also know enough to fully understand the Whackamo game land in which precocious children live. The time it took you to read this blog may actually have made the information in it obsolete.