This is a follow-up to my earlier posting entitled 7 Step Survival Guide For Back To School.
PBS is talking about the same happening: going back to school. For some it was August 1 and for some school doesn't start until after Labor Day.
When I was "little" I remember being excited for school to start and getting new school shoes: leather penny loafers or saddle oxfords. We got just a few school supplies and that was it. It was fun to go back, meet the new teacher, and see friends again....and very quickly the novelty wore off and it became as comfortable and familiar as a favorite old shoe.
Today things are so much more complicated. Since PBS gets 'just a little more' website traffic than I do (!), I am sharing their comments with you. These are directly from the PBS site following the article, The Start of School Can Be a Nightmare by Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock.
Jackie writes... My child is going into kindergarten, and my fears are running more along the lines of "my poor sweet baby is going to have his feelings hurt and come home jaded and different." He is a sweet, sensitive boy (think "tin man" from Wizard of Oz) who considers every kid to be a friend he just hasn't met yet. I am afraid the kids on the bus will tell him there is no Santa and that he will have a tough time with mean kids. You get the idea. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:09 AM
Aviva writes... Jackie - Funny, you get the same answer Jeannine got, just on a different level. Like 6th graders in middle school, kindergarten kids are often kept separate from the rest of the students so they can adapt. Sure, they will be on the bus, in the lunch room and at recess with older kids who will open their eyes to new things in the world but that is what we call growing up. Your influence will continue to be your child's primary source as long as you want to keep it that way. Be there to help him grow and learn - that's how we grow as parents too. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM
Heather writes... My unfounded worry is that the mysterious "supplies list" has not yet arrived from the school. I'm somehow worried that I'll miss all the best sales and have the one kid who gets to school with nothing in tow but her backpack. That and we still have no info on the bus route or pick-up/drop-off schedule. Can you tell we're just doing kindy for the first time? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:23
Aviva writes... Heather - welcome to school! No need to wait for the answers to come to you - head on in there and start asking questions. As a teacher, it is easy to forget some parents are new to this whole school thing. You will not be shamed for not knowing what to do and will probably be cheered on by other parents who have lots of the same questions you do. The teachers will certainly appreciate your desire to be involved and seek out information. So, raise your hand and ask away. In doing so, you will also be setting a great example for your child to do the same. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM
Jeannine writes... My 11 yr. old daughter is entering Middle School as a 6th grader. Nervous about her being around kids older and more advanced -- if you know what I mean. Can't I keep her innocent a while longer or am I dreaming? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:48 AM
Aviva writes... Jeannine - Most middle schools are pretty good about keeping 6th graders separated from the "older" kids - quite frankly, the administration would prefer to give these new comers a chance to adapt to their environment. The transition from elementary to middle school is huge. Not only are academic expectations different, social settings are totally, completely foreign to most 6th graders. Yes, your child will be introduced to many new things; however, your personal interaction will help guide her along her way. Be there to answer questions and assist with the rough spots (even when it seems you are being pushed away). Just because it may be true that more day time hours are spent with school peers than with parents, it is also true that parents are still the greatest influence on kids. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM
Janet writes... My son is changing schools. In New York, some schools still keep 6th graders in the Elementary school. This is the case with his previous school. We are moving to Colorado, and his peers have already been in MS for a year. How do I help him handle the new homework load and locker trouble(etc)while he adjusts to a whole new school and set of friends!! (I think I'm more nervous than he is, but his outbursts are telling me otherwise.) :/ Posted on August 18, 2009 at 2:56 PM
Devra writes... Hi Janet, There is a reason moving is listed among the top ten most stressful things a human being can do. It is stressful! If you are identifying that you are more nervous than your son, my first thought would be to try to step outside of yourself and see if you need to keep your own anxiety in check. Kids are much like the horses you will encounter in Colorado, they sense how the people around them feel. Listen and reflect your son's feelings and try not to comb over what he may be feeling or infuse your own nervousness into your son. Examples of each are phrases like " Don't worry, it's going to be fine." or "You don't need to think about that." or "I bet you are worried about the new school and leaving your friends." Instead consider open ended inquiry, and observations that normalize what's going on. Examples of those are "Moving is stressful. Things may be tense around here for a while until everyone settles in to the new place." or "Even if I seem busy, if you need to talk about any of what's going on, let's talk." or "Would you like me to help collect the addresses and phone numbers of your friends here? Are there pictures of places you would like to have before we move?" And if you have plans to visit New York again, let your son know visits will happen in the future. As for the new school and locker trouble, unless you accompanied him to school and figured out those issues when you lived in NY, leave it to your son and school to handle in Colorado. You'll know if he needs help. Let the school know you have concerns, they will work with you to make your son's transition smooth. While I am a native New Yorker, my mother is from Colorado. I can tell you, as can Aviva who now lives in Colorado, the West is fairly laid back in comparison to NY. We're confident your son will make new friends and get his homework done too! If you have more concerns, feel free to email us. Posted on August 19, 2009 at 7:44 AM
Kristen writes... Ok, I'll confess. I'm worried when I drop mine off at preschool that people will look at me oddly when I high-five myself leaving the school. Am I the only person who won't be teary-eyed and long for the moment that I get to pick them up? Summer is a very long time with preschoolers. Posted on August 20, 2009 at 9:39 AM