Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School: Kindergarten, Here We Come, Teaching Our Kids to Let Go

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles 

Growing Up 

I know I’m in denial. They say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. Maybe I’ll start there…I have a problem, a problem with my little boy growing up too fast.  My eyes are getting dry because I have held them open for several years, not wanting to blink for a second in fear that I’ll miss something.  I must have blinked.  What is worse, however, is that I can see that my son does not want to blink either in fear that he has to let go of his old school, teacher and friends.  He is in denial, as well, about leaving behind preschool and everything he has come to love about his class.  As his mom, I know how he is feeling; the knowledge that you have to give something up in order to grow and move forward.  As parents, it is important for us to help our kids with that transition and to teach them how to let go.

Why Do I Have To Go To Kindergarten?


I must have blinked sometime in between giving birth to my son and then bringing in another baby, my daughter, into this world because in exactly thirteen days, my little boy will be heading off to college. Okay, not really, he will be heading off into kindergarten.  It's the same difference, right?

This weekend we went back-to-school shopping for him. I tried to not think about what all the new clothes and shoes meant - that this would become a regular summer activity for the next twelve years. We were reminded with a note in the mail a few days before the shopping that the start of school was just around the corner. He was sent a date for a meet-and-greet with his new teacher.

During all the shopping, he just wanted to go play (we were at the mall so there’s a play area for kids there). He asked, “Why do I need new clothes and shoes?” 

He has made it clear since the start of summer that he is anxious, nervous and against going to a new school and making new friends. He adored his preschool teacher who he became attached to so I can understand his grief. 

He has repeatedly asked, “Why do I have to go to a different school? I like my teacher and my friends, why can’t they come with me?”

Moving On To Kindergarten


It pains me to see him scared, worried and most of all confused. He doesn’t seem to grasp or maybe refuses to accept that a new teacher and class is necessary every year. It especially makes me sad to hear him ask why he needs to make new friends. 

Every time this topic arises, he argues, “But I already have friends.” On his last day of school in preschool he said to one of his good friends, “Good-bye, I’ll see you tomorrow!” 

My heart hurts to hear him talk about missing his friends and old school. I’m dreading that first day of kindergarten for us both. I can only hope for minimal tears (mostly from my eyes) and I plan to engrave the image of him walking through those class room doors forever into my brain. 

I often wish for time to go in slow motion so my mind can capture every memory of his activities and parties he may have while my heart tries to hold onto every laugh, story and experience I share with him this year. 

Tips to Help Teach Kids to Let Go:

  • Acknowledge that your child does not want to let go just the way that we as parents have a hard time of letting go.  Talk to your child about it and his anxieties, fears and worries.  
  • Your child most likely has become attached to his teacher and friends. Let him know it is okay to miss them.  My son was scared he was not going to make new friends in his new class so reassure your child that he will make new friends and that there are plenty of positive things to look forward to in the new school year.
  • If it is possible, find a way for your child to keep in contact with his friends and go on play dates.
  • If it is going to be possible, let your child know that he can always visit his old teacher and classroom and occasionally schedule time for your child to visit.
  • Talk to your child about your past experience as child when you had to say good-bye to your teacher and friends.  Share with him how you made new friends and all the fun things that you did moving forward to a new class and meeting new friends.
They say that "you learn everything you need to know in kindergarten..." 

Brody's preschool graduation

Yes, I think I blinked...

I know kindergarten will surely make him grow into a smarter, braver young person which means next year, he may be ready to tackle first grade on his own while I’m left standing at his kindergarten door, still getting used to the idea that my baby boy’s childhood is spiraling right along. 

Like I said, I’m in denial.

Has your child started kindergarten?  Did you handle it okay or were you in denial, too?


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Merry Monday

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