My firstborn Hannah is now 5 years old, and we have decided to enroll her in our local public school for kindergarten. We made this decision for a number of reasons, but mostly what it comes down to is that this is what works best for our family. We all have to make our own choices when it comes to school and separating from our children (or not).
As I write this, school has already started, but Hannah is still at home. At our school new kindergartners attend the first day to take attendance and get assigned their classes. Then their parents meet one-on-one with the kindergarten teacher before class gets underway. Once those meetings are all complete there will be a gradual entry process before we get into the full swing of things. We are still very much in the preparation stages before starting kindergarten.
So far, I have been quite impressed by our interactions with the school. Hannah’s teacher is caring and compassionate. She looks at the students as whole people, and at this stage she is focused more on social and emotional skills, rather than academic milestones. The kindergarten classroom contains a variety of toys and materials, including spaces for imaginative and dramatic play.
Even though I am confident in our choice of school, I still have fears as we embark on this journey. I think this is normal. I wonder how will things turn out, and what will Hannah think of school. My own school experiences played a large role in my childhood, and I know they will in Hannah’s, too. As her mother, I hope that her experiences are as positive as possible.
To help make the transition into public school gentle for Hannah, I’m looking for ways to remain connected. I believe that a secure attachment can make a big difference to children, even as they grow older and naturally move towards greater independence. And so I’m developing an attachment parenting style for my school-aged child. Here’s what it looks like so far:
- I involve Hannah in choosing school snacks, school clothes, school supplies and so on. I want her to have a say in the decisions I make surrounding school.
- My husband and I both attended the welcoming conversation with her teacher, and agreed on some goals for Hannah’s entry into school. We want to all be on the same page.
- I am volunteering as a Girl Guide leader with Hannah’s unit, and I plan to volunteer in her classroom as I am able. I want to be involved with Hannah’s education and extra-curricular activities, while still maintaining a personal balance of my own.
- I am helping Hannah work through her emotions surrounding the new school. She is very excited but also a little bit nervous, and I am doing my best to listen to her, validate her feelings and empower her to handle this transition.
- We have visited the pre school playground and had some playdates with the children who will be in Hannah’s class, so that she has some familiarity with the school and children before starting.
I am confident that with a little bit of nurturing, we can maintain a strong attachment throughout Hannah’s school years. This is a big change for us, but also an exciting one. Parenting is never short of adventures, and now we’re starting on a new one together.
Do you have school-age children? How have you helped them to handle the transition into school? What worked, and what didn’t? I could use more tips, if you have them!
You can catch up with Amber’s adventures on her blog at Strocel.com.