Kindie Survival 101: Bracing for the Germfactory

It’s no secret that any place that hosts a large group of people in a confined space is considered to be a germ factory. Airplanes, cruise ships, you name it, if someone has even the slightest sniffle you’ll be sure to catch it as well.

Kindergarten, and school in general, is no exception. Kids are taught to share everything, but germs are the gift that keeps on giving.

Image result for kindergarten germ meme

I wouldn’t say that kids will for certain be sick all the time when they start going to school, but I will admit that I found Isla waking up with a runny nose WAY more often than when she was even in preschool twice a week. No matter how hard you hammer the “Wash your hands, cover your mouth” ritual into their brains, catching multiple colds during the school year is inevitable. We battled some variety of germ at least once every 6 weeks. Sad, but true.

I wish I could give you tips on how to prevent your kids from getting sick, but I fear there is no way. The best advice I can give would be to not stress out when your kid is sick, and don’t feel guilty if you feel he or she isn’t well enough to go school. Kindergarteners generally don’t miss out on too terribly much when they skip a day or two, and I personally believe that if they’re not feeling well they’re not paying attention in class anyway.

Once Isla had told me that she wasn’t feeling well, but she wasn’t running a fever so I sent her to school anyway. There was a special presentation her class was putting on, and between her turns she just laid on the gym floor completely out of it. I felt horrible when I took her temperature and she was burning up. Needless to say, she stayed home for two days until she was well enough to go back.

Germs, of course, are not limited to just colds and the flu. There’s pink eye. Head lice. Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease. Don’t those just sound lovely? There’s a vaccine for it now, but chicken pox were the trendy virus back in my day. Thankfullllly we had no serious issues with any of those and *only* one child got pink eye but it was caught before it was spread throughout the classroom. An email was sent home as a precaution so we could properly sanitize anything that went to and from school and we hoped for the best.

I think hoping for the best is the only thing you can really do when it comes to preventing your child from catching bugs and germs. Do your best to have your child wash his or her hands regularly with soap. Have them practice using their “Cough catcher” (i.e., coughing or sneezing into their “elbow pit”). Remind them about personal space and to not get too close to anyone’s face. Just be prepared at home with Tylenol, Kleenex and whatever else you may need to make your child feel better sooner, and take everything else in stride.

Oh yes, and be sure to prepare yourself too, because nothing is harder than trying to get your child out the door for the day when you feel like death yourself. Vitamin C and echinacea are my go-to’s, and I start taking them the moment either child has signs of the sniffles.

Also – kids who went to preschool and/or daycare get sick just as frequently as kids who don’t. There’s no need to question or blame yourself if your child seems to fall ill more than Susan’s kid who went to preschool full time.

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Kindie Survival 101: PAC Pressure

I will not deny that the Parent Advisory Council, or PAC, works their butts off every year to make amazing things happen for both the school and the students. Supplementing the school’s budget, the money raised by the school’s PAC volunteers allows our children to go on short field trips for little to no costs, have hot lunch programs, fun days, and more. I give mad props to our PAC for the work they do, so I’m not knocking them one bit.

All that being said, there’s a heck of a lot of pressure put on by the PAC sometimes to volunteer, go to meetings, and raise money. The latter, especially, is what gets me the most.

I understand that fundraising is the single-most important way to help our school acquire the things it needs, but the pressure is intense to pitch in and contribute. Whether it’s coupon books, flower sales, or coupon books, I personally feel compelled to at least purchase or donate something myself if I’m not going to hawk tickets and the like to family. (I hate asking people for donations most of the time as it is.) BUT – without raising money our school wouldn’t have many of the tools it needs to help our kids learn and grow. Whether it’s playground or gym equipment, tablets, or books, a lot of that isn’t obtained without putting a whole hell of a lot of effort behind fundraising.

There’s also a bit of pressure to volunteer your time, not just within PAC functions, but in the classroom as well. Having a younger child at home made for a convenient excuse, but there was always a bit of guilt when I couldn’t contribute.

I suppose that the point of this Kindie Survival post is to not feel pressured to do anything and everything when it comes to volunteering for the school, whether it’s in the classroom or for the PAC committee. Kindergarten is a huge learning process for both yourself and your child, and by no means should you feel pressured to do more than what you’re comfortable with. I ended up feeling satisfied with my contributions throughout the year, even though I didn’t raise my hand for every opportunity. I couldn’t chaperone field trips, but I pitched in a batch of cookies, veggies, and plates for classroom functions. I had no desire to volunteer with the PAC, but I did my best to help Isla sell raffle tickets.

It’s okay to take the easiest option if you want to, because even the simplest jobs are appreciated by the school and its PAC. Everyone really seems to work together as a community, and when that happens the kids benefit the greatest.

How involved are you with your child’s school? Or, if they’re not in school yet, how involved do you plan to be?

 

 

 

 

Kindie Survival 101: Birthday Bombardment

Once your child goes to school, gone are the days of simple, family gatherings celebrating your little bundle’s day of birth. Enter, you shall, the chaotic headache that is The Bombardment of Friends Sugar-filled Birthday Madness. Or something like that.

While policies and/or recommendations may vary on school and classroom, our teacher gently suggested that when handing out birthday invitations to please invite all children in the class if possible. If that wasn’t possible, hand invitations directly to parents instead of allowing your child to hand them out in class.

It sounds like a ludicrous request, I can understand where she was coming from. Feelings can easily get hurt, especially when a child doesn’t know why he or she wasn’t invited to so-and-so’s party. Their “best friends” also change on a weekly, if not daily, basis, so it’s hard to determine who’s “worthy” of that Golden Ticket.

But from the financial standpoint, it’s hard to invite nearly 20 kids to a party. For one, how does one host that many children all at once? Unless you live on a sprawling acreage, it’s nearly impossible. You could rent out a community hall, or head to a venue, but that gets costly and often has restrictions on how many people can attend. It helps on the whole “invite the whole class” issue, but what if your kid is a social butterfly and is (legitimately) friends with more kids than the cap?

Two, it’s expensive to feed that many mouths, even if you’re just planning on serving snacks and cake. You’ll doubt whether or not you’re providing enough food, but then again, are the kids going to stop socialized and playing long enough to even eat? (Answer: Most likely not unless it’s cake.)

Ultimately, who to invite to your kid’s birthday party is 100% up to you. Isla was invited to both “whole class” parties and “select few”ones and I never heard her question why she wasn’t invited to someone else’s. I’m sure this will happen one day, but I’m thankful we haven’t had to cross this bridge yet.

Another topic regarding birthdays to discuss is how to decide what to do if/when your child is invited to someone else’s party. Personally, it’s hard for me to say “No” to Isla attending someone else’s party unless there’s something else happening or she’s sick. Plus, Isla is always super sad when she finds out she can’t go to someone’s party. My solution is to try and open up her invitations and determine if she can go before she even knows what’s going on. While slightly deceitful, it saves headache and heartache down the road.

Also prepare yourself for getting more than one invite in a month. It’s up to you do decide if it’s financially and mentally worth doing. Much like hosting a party, attending multiple parties in a month is expensive if you spend $15-20 on a present per kid.

Everything about birthdays stressed me out way more than it should have, and I look forward to the day when my kids have a clear group of friends and I don’t have to worry about hurting a child’s feelings. I know there will always in inclusion and exclusion issues, but at least I will be able to pass some of that control over to my kids.

How do you think you’ll tackle birthday parties? Do you agree with the “Invite all” request?

Full disclosure: After numerous discussions and breaking down all situations, Kyle and I allowed Isla to invite her whole class plus a few close outside friends to her birthday. We hosted it at a venue and it was worth every penny because 16 kids attended and the craziness of that many 5/6 year olds was exhausting. We at least didn’t have to clean up most of the mess. Next year we’re aiming/hoping for a more intimate soirée.