Gail Hoffer-Loibl, a mom and writer, knows that sending a child off to kindergarten for the first time can be emotional — and utterly nerve-racking — for parents. And while it's easy to get overwhelmed with the little back-to-school details, Gail took the time to reassure moms and dads that it's all going to be OK in a calming Facebook post on her page, Maybe I'll Shower Today.
"I sometimes have trouble believing nearly two years has passed since I sent my oldest off to kindergarten," she wrote. "I remember doing my very best to hide my nerves to keep my son from picking up on my anxiety and becoming worried himself. I had no idea what the year would bring, and my mind buzzed with questions: Will he adapt to the school environment? Will he get along with his classmates? Will he like his teacher? Will he behave? Will he meet expectations?"
With time, Gail's concerns subsided. "With each school day attended, a little bit of my worry eased," she explained. "Not just my son, but my husband and I, became more acclimated to school life. We learned along with him. We got through the struggles with him. And, sure enough, our son finished kindergarten and went on to have an excellent year in first grade. Your kids will get there, too."
Rather than fretting, Gail gave parents some tangible guidelines to help parents rid themselves of the back-to-school jitters:
1. Don't compare your child to anyone else. Some kids come in to kindergarten knowing how to read novels; others have barely mastered their ABCs. It's important to focus on your own child's educational growth and not get caught up in the comparison game. Each child has unique strengths and weaknesses that deserve attention.
2. Be involved in the classroom. My child is enrolled in a special program built on parental involvement, and I have seen this benefit my son firsthand . . . Of course, classroom volunteering is hard for many parents, so look for other ways to help out. Volunteer to shop for classroom supplies, sharpen pencils, or run the class email list.
3. Remember you are child's advocate. We all hope our children's foray into school will be without issue. But, of course, challenges arise. While respecting the knowledge and experience of their educators, it is important for your child to know you are their for them and will advocate for their best interest.
4. Don't base your kid's success on the first weeks of school. Some kids take to school right away, others need a bit more time. If your kid falls in the latter category, give them time. You'd be surprised by how much things can change after they've been in school for more than a few months.
5. Everything will be OK. Maybe, I shouldn't say that without knowing your child, but I'm going to say it anyway. No matter how your child's first year goes, they will get through it — and so will you. So, take a deep breath, relax a bit, and get ready for one of the most memorable years of your life.