Today is the first day for our new Kindergarten students.
All week I’ve been thinking about these little ones, the memories of my first day and of the first day for my children.
My first day of Kindergarten was a day of anticipation. I was ready to start and wanted to start. My mom dropped me off that first day. I don’t know if it was her day off or she asked to go in late to work. I walked in and remember how big the room looked and felt. The other vivid memory is of a child who came in with me. He was crying and clinging to his mother. I didn’t understand why he was doing that since I couldn’t wait to get started. I don’t remember feeling scared at all, but feeling like I was finally free. It was a break from my large family and extended family. How could one not be excited to be at school? I loved that first day and never looked back.
As a parent on those first days, it was mixed feelings. I was excited for each of my children as they started school. My oldest was in first grade when we adopted him, and it was towards the end of the school year on his first day with us. My worries though were the same as I’ve felt for each of the first days for my children.
I worried about them making friends, doing well in school, liking teachers, behaving, and whether they would find as much joy in being at school as I did. Some of those worries were unfounded, others, well, let’s just say there were struggles for us all in different ways with them all over that first year.
The hardest was for my daughter, our youngest. She put up a great bravado, but she was really scared underneath. She played a little while we waited for the bell to ring. Then she lined up okay to go in and sat down at her place. That is when I could see how scared she was, she wore that nervous smile that most people would have thought she was okay. But, all of us know our children well and the signals they give us of their true feelings. She was on the edge of breaking down. Since I had taught Kinder, I also knew part of this was the worry of parting from us and being alone in an unknown place. I knew from experience, if we left before she started to cry that she would quickly and easily adjust to this new experience.
I told Richard it was time to go, and as expected, he also saw what was about to happen and didn’t want to leave her. Honestly, even though I knew she would be fine, the instinct to protect was there as well, and I too wanted to comfort her. If we lingered though, I also knew it would be harder on her, so I led him away after kissing her goodbye and telling her she would do great. As expected, she was fine after we left.
Each year I wonder if it is harder for the moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or whomever is serving in the role of caretaker on that first day. Or is it harder for little one? I’m sure it is equally hard from each one’s perspective.
Just know that when we leave our children on that first day (really no matter the grade), we educators feel the responsibility that has been placed on us. We take it very seriously. We don’t want to let you down and most importantly, we don’t want to let your children down. We do our best to love them, care for them, teach them, guide them, and help them become the person we know, and you know, they can be.
As this first day begins, trust us and make that leap. Be strong for them, tell them how great they will do, how much you love them, and that you know they will learn a lot and enjoy the learning. Then hug and kiss your young one goodbye, tell them it will be okay, then bravely leave so they can discover for themselves that they can do it. We are there for them as you are there for them.
Have a great first day of Kindergarten and welcome to our school.