OMG. The Kindergarten countdown is here. I feel like our Ladybug Picnic birthday party just happened! (But maybe that’s because I just re-lived and re-hashed the superpower it unleashed for me back then in my new book for first-time moms…)
Back to starting school: The other night I had a dream that it was my first day of school and I was running around frantically from store to store, searching for a notebook… and all I could find were 4×4″ hot pink mini-notepads with Disney princesses printed on the front and I kept telling the clerk “I can’t take notes with these… they’re too small!” I woke up with my heart pounding. (You think I’m kidding?) It’s official: I’m nervous about my first-born starting real school. Here I thought I was so much cooler than that. I’m not.
So I thought to ask a few of my closest friends – who happen to be Kindergarten teachers – how I should be prepping my soon-to-be schoolgirl before her first day. “Gimme your best tips for things to teach kids before Kindergarten!” I demanded in a panic. I was thinking along the lines of writing letters and counting to 30… yeah, not so much.
Here’s what Kindergarten teachers *really* want our tots to know before starting school:
1) How to zip and unzip their own backpack.
2) How to unbutton and button their own pants.
3) How to completely and effectively wipe themselves after the potty (even when they go #2).
4) How to properly use a Kleenex… and how to throw it away. (Bonus Tip: NO BOOGER EATING ALLOWED. Booger-eating is not self-expression or child experimentation… it’s your job as a parent to teach kids that it’s disgusting, unsanitary and disrespectful to do it. Period.)
5) How to wash (with soap) and dry their hands… and put the paper towel into a trash can (instead of leaving it on the counter to dry before a teacher has to pick it up).
6) How to sit still, pay attention and listen in short spurts (as much as a 5 year old is capable of, that is… and yes, they’re more capable than many adults give them credit for… us parents just need to work with them).
7) How to be a self-starting helper… how to clean up their own projects, supplies, toys, pencils and not complain about it (and also not ignore the adult asking them to do so).
8) To NOT to climb up the playground slide… when kids are at the top of the slide waiting to go down. (Apparently this drives lots of teachers nuts… IT’S A PLAYGROUND SAFETY ISSUE. I respect that. And also agree — drives me nuts too.)
9) To learn the teacher’s name and to know that part of being in school involves actually calling their teacher by that name… as opposed to yelling “Teacher! Teacher!” Kids know all the names of all the princesses, Jake and the Neverland Pirate characters and My Little Pony songs… they can learn their teachers’ names. (Would you like it if teachers called your child by shouting “Student! Student!”)
10) Kids must know their own last names. Just for good measure.
So yeah, counting and writing and sounding out letters are necessary and always appreciated, but the unconventional requests above help our teachers out BIG TIME. I mean, they’ve all got enough issues to contend with these days… which unfortunately often does take away from their ability to teach and kids’ ability to learn. Whether we want to admit it or not, teachers spend about as much time with our kids as we do… except they’ve got 20-30 to contend with at one time. I challenge you to try that. (I’m not sure I could do it…)
HELP. TEACHERS. OUT. So they can do their jobs and teach our kids. Because one kid can ruin it for the rest. (That’s my opinion on the record there…) If you need me, I’ll be running tutorials involving how to open snack bags with my LadyP in our kitchen…
IS YOUR KID READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?