This June I finished up my first year as an elementary school parent, specifically as the parent of a kindergartner. I had been keeping notes on things I learned or was surprised about during the year to help fellow parents who will be experiencing the same situation in upcoming years. From clothing options to meltdowns to being amazed at their growth, keep reading to see what I learned as a parent of a kindergartner.
Remember that Brielle’s birthday is in August so she is young for her age. I felt that it really showed, not on her maturity but on the milestones kids seemed to be hitting or things they knew that she did not. I still felt she was ready for kindergarten and would not have held her back by any means but here are some things I learned this past year.
- Stock their wardrobe with all the colors. There are so many themed days at school and different reasons to wear specific colors or accessories. This isn’t just true of a kindergartner but any year of elementary school. We slowly added more colors to her closet and we often added colorful hair chalk to fit the theme!
- Put the themed days on your calendar. Our family uses a shared google calendar so once they announced a new month and the themed days, I added them on the calendar for 7am that morning. There had been a day or two we missed in the beginning and she was NOT happy about missing the silly fun.
- Find your tribe. Sure your child is learning their way, making friends, but it’s just as important for you as a parent to make friends with those parents too. I’m happy Brielle found a few girls who became friends outside of the classroom and had cool parents we like to hang out with it! There was more than one occasion this year where we as families helped another family, whether it was a car ride, school drop off situation, borrowing something or just watching out for the other child in a group situation. These are the kids they will be in school with for the next 13 years so invest in the families as well!
- Pack snacks, snacks and more snacks. Brielle’s pre-k always ate lunch around noon which is about the time we ate even on the weekends. This had been her routine for the first 5 years of life. In kindergarten, they had a snack in the morning but didn’t eat lunch until around 1:15pm! I made sure her morning snack was super filling and even started throwing in extra snacks for her lunch. When she came home from school she would be just as hungry as ever and still wanted more snacks! Our house never seems to be full of enough variety of fresh fruit, dairy and dried snacks for this hungry girl!
- Be prepared for more afternoon meltdowns. At least for the first few months. The transition of a full time kindergarten class, which had no quiet time, like she was used to at her pre-k, was a was rough one for our girl. She has been prone to night terrors when stressed or overwhelmed and we hit a high on those occurrences in October. She slowly got used to the long school days, but the fall was rough!
- Figure out a system for all the papers. There are SO MANY papers that come home! Things they draw, printed worksheets and even things drawn by other friends! Brielle’s teacher had a folder system so each afternoon I’d look in her folder to see what came home. I made choices and worked on an organization system to keep our favorites. I opted to take photos of many of her drawings or handwriting examples and will put together a photobook of her creations that takes up a smaller footprint than keeping them all. You can learn more about my artwork and paperwork storage solution here!
- You’ll be amazed by what they remember and learn and what they don’t. Brielle famously doesn’t have the greatest memory. So when she pulls out some obscure thought or activity from the day I’m super impressed. Meanwhile some days she can’t remember one thing to share. Also, don’t expect to get anything out of them right after school. They need that initial time to decompress and settle down (usually with a snack) before sharing about their day.
- Friends are influential. Brielle’s always had friends in her daycare and cousins her age. But they never seemed to have that much of an influence on her likes/dislikes and preferences. It all seemed to click and change in kindergarten where she grew a love of unicorns, knew the difference between a caticorn and allicorn, and was all of a sudden interested in buying lunch and losing teeth, all because of friends. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg on what her friends teach her!
- Learn when they take the class photo. Brielle’s school has 2 class photo sessions – one in the fall and one in the spring. We pre-ordered and were prepared for the fall ones as the standard seated photo but I wanted to opt out of the spring seated session. Little did I know the spring photo sessions was when they take the group class photo we ordered in the fall! My daughter will always be known as the girl with the rain boots in her kindergarten class photo as she didn’t think to change to the extra shoes she brought in on that rainy day.
While you’re here, take a look at our Favorite Products for a 5 year old post which includes toys, games, educational items and accessories she loves!