This month, close to 10,000 Alaska children are starting a new chapter in their young lives: kindergarten. They will be a mixed bunch. Some will have attended Head Start or other classroom-based preschool, some will have stayed at home with a parent or other caregiver, and others will have been cared for in a family child care setting.
Despite this variety of experiences, these 5-year-olds will have one thing in common – a mix of emotions and responses. They are likely to feel excited about going to the “big school.” They might be worried about making new friends or meeting the teacher’s expectations. They may find themselves in a classroom full of kids they know or be one of the new kids in the group.
They might have an understanding of “going to school” that is different from ours. I’m reminded of a cartoon with two frames. In the first one, a parent asks how the first day of school went and the child answers “fine.” In the second frame, the parent talks about getting ready for the next day, and the child, with a horrified look on her face, says, “You mean it’s more than one day?”
Parents, too, have a mix of emotions and responses to their child beginning kindergarten, no matter if it’s a first child they are sending off or if they’ve experienced this before.
Will she be all right? Will she miss me?
I will miss spending our afternoons together.
He is so ready for this. I know he’ll be fine.
Can I trust this teacher to really get to know my child?
There are so many kids in this class.
This seems to be a good mix of children and the right size class.
My baby is growing up!
After only a few years, there will be more first days – first day of middle school, first day of high school, first day of leaving home. As your child moves along her journey toward adulthood, remember this.
“There are only two lasting things we can hope to give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.”
You have given her the roots she needs to grow, and the wings she needs to soar. And while there is still a lot of watering and gentle nudging left, rest easy with the knowledge that she has everything she needs to succeed – YOU.
Take a second to appreciate everything that brought your family to this moment, and then answer this question… How are YOU feeling about your child beginning kindergarten this year?