Kindie Survival 101: Bits & Pieces

School starts in just over a week here in Canada, and I hope you enjoyed this series that I’ve whipped together for you. There were a lot of points that weren’t covered, so I thought I’d put those thoughts here to cover all the random bits.

Clothing

You know that saying, “Dress for success”? While you may already be knee-deep in back to school shopping it’s important to do the same when you send your child off to school.  At kindergarten age, many clothing options are still fairly child-friendly and feature snaps instead of buttons, Velcro instead of laces, etc. It’s important to remember that while your child’s teacher can help out when they can with certain things, it’s hard for them to help out with shoes, coats, etc. If your child hasn’t figured out how to tie their shoes yet, consider velcro or slip-on ones.

Another brilliant thing that our teacher had us parents do was to keep a full spare change of clothes in our child’s locker for any accidents that may occur. I have vidid memories of me having to call my mom while she was at work to bring me dry clothes because of a puddle-jumping war and her not being impressed, so by having that spare set really saved everyone a lot of time and money.

Also – label EVERYTHING. Hats, mitts, jackets, sweaters, shoes … whatever might get taken off needs to be labelled in the event that something gets lost or mixed up. Labels are generally inexpensive and there are both iron-on and stick-on options.

One more thing … Want to avoid the daily battle of what to wear? Give them a choice of a couple of options, that way they feel like they’re wearing what they want without being impractical. Picking between Shirt A or B and Pants A or B is a lot easier than letting them choose from their whole closet.

Playground Apprehensions

When Isla first started school I was damn certain that Isla was going to accidentally throw herself off the top of the jungle gym and that she’d wind up with a concussion. While we had visited the playground a small handful of times before her starting school, I was still so nervous during that first day of minimally-supervised playtime.

Not wanting to be “that” person sitting my my car across the street from the playground and watching my kid play, I just trusted that she would know her limits and not do anything silly. Thankfully, I never got a call home that she had hurt herself and needed medical attention, and by the end of the school year she was a playground master and needed no assistance on anything. (Under-duck pushes were still requested regularly on the swings though!)

Friendships

If there was one rule that I tried to instil in Isla’s head, it was to be kind to everyone. I would tell her that she didn’t have to necessarily be friends and play with everyone, but it was important to be nice and kind to everyone. Teaching that it’s okay to say “No thank you” to playing with someone without being mean is a difficult thing to do; I didn’t want her to become a bully, but I didn’t necessarily want her to be a pushover either.

On the flipside of that, I also worried about her being bullied, for whatever reason who knows because kids have poor logic to begin with. Acceptance is still something society is working on, but thankfully we had no incidents that needed intervention.

The brightest side to this is that at 5-years old, it’s so easy to figure out a friendship. Generally, it’s as easy as “Oh, you like firetrucks? Me too, lets play!” Don’t be nervous if your child doesn’t instantly create friendships, he or she may just be waiting for the right moment to ask someone else to play.

“See you after school!”

It’s such a bittersweet moment when you drop your child off for their first day at school. You look forward to having some free time to yourself or having your child learn a whole world of new things, but at the same time you think about how much your baby has grown and how quickly time goes by.

Some kids will embrace kindergarten and have no issues transitioning into the school, while others may show some major apprehension. I don’t know which situation is easier, but either way, it’s important to be supportive and reassure them that school is amazing and that they’ll love every moment of it.

I never felt overly emotional about Isla going off to school. I don’t know if it’s because kindergarten has such a gradual entry that made it easier to cope with or if I’m just a cold, emotionless human being, but I never thought I’d be one of the parents crying in the parking lot after dropping her off. I was good for the first two half-days, but the emotions took over after I dropped Isla off for her full first day. Isla’s teacher had her students give their parents little care packages with a very sweet saying and I pretty much wept as I walked with Norah back home.

You got this.

It’s going to be a big year with big emotions and changes, but remember that you got this. Your child has this. Learn from one another and the next 10 months will go by so smoothly and quickly. It’s a whole new chapter in both of your lives, so write it with the best of your abilities. Good luck!

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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.

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?