The Kids Little Kid

7 Things No One Will Tell You Before Your Child Starts Kindergarten

by Meredith Gordon

Photograph by Twenty20

It’s that time of year when kids go back to school. For parents of kids starting kindergarten, this is a particularly exciting and stressful time of year. Sending your little one off to kindergarten is one of those milestones parents will remember forever. The beginning of our kid’s time in “real school” is the beginning of our children becoming more independent. It’s a sign they are growing up. It’s natural to shed a tear (or openly weep) as you watch your little one walk in to school, oversized backpack and all.

But what no one tells you as you is that starting elementary school can be particularly stressful to kids as well. While everyone will be telling your child how excited they must be to start school,they may be thinking, “No, thanks. I was perfectly happy playing and finger painting in preschool.” Trust me, I know. When my oldest started kindergarten, the blissful, lovely, school year I anticipated was a total disaster. My kid hated school and our entire family suffered.

Had I been better prepared as a parent for the realities of what kids go through when they go to kindergarten, I think I would have better prepared. Instead, I assumed the beginning of elementary school would be a sweet start into the grade school years.

Boy, was I wrong.

Brace yourself for some meltdowns. Your child will spend a good portion of their school day being on their best behavior. That means your child will come home and unload all of it on you. So expect tons of meltdowns as first and know they will end eventually.

Your child will need you differently. When your little one was in preschool, they needed your nurturing and care. As your child becomes a kindergartener, you’ll start to see they need you more emotionally. They will need you to explain social dynamics and help deal with the natural anxiety that comes up in kids.

Kindergarten will probably be the biggest change to date in your child’s young life, which doesn’t mean they will be happy about it.

Kindergarten is exhausting. Even if your child was in preschool for full days, they will come home wiped out from kindergarten. The expectations are higher, which is tiring for little ones. Heck, it's tiring for grown-ups, too.

Your kid will be starving. No matter how big of a lunch you pack for your child, they will come home starving. Chalk it up to all that thinking!

Socializing is hard. In preschool, kids play together or not, but social life isn’t such a big deal. That changes in kindergarten, so expect to hear about a lot of friend issues now that your kid is in the big leagues.

Kids aren’t always happy to go to kindergarten. Kindergarten will probably be the biggest change to date in your child’s young life, which doesn’t mean they will be happy about it. So, make sure to listen to your little one and know that they will eventually like school, once they get over missing the comfort of preschool.

You won’t know everything that’s going on inside the classroom. In preschool, you probably knew everything that was happening in your child’s classroom. Elementary school is different. Assume you won’t hear from school unless there’s a problem. And then, boy, will you hear from them.

So, congrats to your little learner as he or she embarks into kindergarten. Even if it’s a bumpy ride, what an exciting time!

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