Well hello lovelies! Everyone is feeling the back to school energy around these parts. Watching the boob tube the other day, I was swiftly reminded of a time when summer ended and school began. Commercial after commercial on all of your back to school savings, perpetuate anxiety and financial fear mongering. Where to shop and what to buy, always brings excitement and a bit of wallet raping. “Here we go again,” is the usual thought process among us professional back to school parents, but what about those first year school moms? Their fears and concerns run much deeper.
Dearest first time school moms, this is yet another milestone that can bring on trepidation and torment. Mama bear has to relinquish control of her most prized attribute, her baby. I remember the first year my eldest children began their kindergarten year. I couldn’t sleep the night before, but that was nothing in comparison to all that led up to that night.
Have you figured out what school your child is zoned for? If not this is the time to do so. You will need to go into the office (most open two weeks before school begins) and request your child be registered. These are the things you should be prepared for:
1. Vaccinations. You will need to show proof of vaccinations, or a religious letter explaining why you do not vaccinate. No mom shaming please. Some children have allergies to certain ingredients in the vaccines, never assume.
2. Proof of residency by providing a utility bill, lease, or mortgage statement. If you live with someone, they will need to provide a notarized letter stating that you live at a specific address.
3. Medications that must be administered at school will need a doctor’s note, type of medication and why it is needed, as well as the dosage. You may need to be prepared to fill out a 504 medical contract with the school at some point to protect your child. This is a plan that is recognized by a doctor and the school.
4. Some schools require the birth certificate as well, to prove that you are the parent. You may need your state issued I.D.
5. If there has been a divorce you will need to bring the Divorce Decree to prove which parent has sole, primary, or joint physical and legal custody. The school will only hand over a child to the parent that has rightful custody on any specific school day or event. You will also need to be prepared with names, phone numbers, and addresses of alternative friends and family, who you have given permission to pick up your child.
6. Set up transportation for busing if needed.
Mind V.S. Material
I was at odds with my mind. On one hand I was super excited for the first day of school, while on the other I was sickened over the idea that I was about to entrust my world with a complete stranger. I had never been so overwhelmed with emotions in my life. Sure, I had encountered adversities before, but none as daunting as giving up my children for a day because, the law tells me I must. I knew I needed to get it under control. The best thing that I could do for myself and kiddos, was to focus on the material preparation. I would have to worry about my mental well-being later.
Here are the essentials:
1. Don’t overdo it on supplies. You will receive a list from the teacher on the first day. More than likely the teacher will request items that you will question. Don’t complain and don’t question it. The items requested for the classroom would normally come out of the teacher’s pocket. Remember that teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. These items help them to focus on your children and not how financially burdened they are.
2. The essentials to start with should be, a backpack (which will be larger than your child), #2 pencils, a 1” binder with large rule paper and a folder. That is all. The teacher will send home the list of what will be required for the curriculum.
3. You can expect that you may need separate colored folders (red, blue, yellow, purple, green etc.), glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, crayons, washable markers, Kleenex, paper towels, toddler safety scissors, and again most of this will become community property, so do not bother writing your child’s name on these items.
4. Lunch box. Now if you have a kindergartner who is attending half day kinder, then this may not be necessary. However, if your rug rat is attending all-day kinder, then you will absolutely need this. Should you decide to buy your child school lunch, most schools allow you to add money to your kiddo’s online account. You will receive that info in the first week or during registration.
Your kids feel what you are feeling. If you allow the idea of dropping them off and letting them go to school seem scary or awful to you, then they will feel the same. Set your own feelings aside and get your kiddos excited. Some children will cry when they see their parents walking away, so stay with them while they line up to go into the classroom. Do not impede by staying to observe, this will only make things harder. However, volunteering from time to time in the classroom can be a joyful experience for both you and your child. There are many things to consider here, all of which are healthy for your kiddos.
Every child needs to be around other children their own age. When you think about taking your nugget to the park, you think about the new friends they make. If this brings a smile to your face, then so will new friends at school.
2. Problem solving skills
The best part of your child learning at school and away from home is the necessary problem solving techniques to procure a successful academic career. Something as simple as how to cut paper properly, sharpen a pencil, and disciplined structured routines are key. Parents are not always the best for teaching simple things. Teachers have more patience than we do, that is why they chose the profession. They will develop your child in ways you cannot, so allow them to do so.
This may be the most crucial for your child and the most heart wrenching for you. As your child grows they tend to learn how to do tasks and skills without your assistance. Why does this bother us so much? It is quite simple actually, they need us less. What you must learn is that your child’s independence does not detract from your identity as the parent, it means the little one is growing up. Yes, that is something we wish we could slow down, mostly because, this forces us, as parents, to redefine our identity. However, through every new milestone you will learn to adapt nicely.
The question you really want to know…
How will I get through this without falling apart?
Simple. You just need to create excitement and allow your little one to grow in all things, so that you might be able to look forward to the next chapter. Once your kiddo begins school it does get easier, as well as more difficult and much more expensive (Wink Wink). Allow yourself to fall apart at home once your munchkin is at school. It is okay to feel grief when moving on to this next phase of life, but you can never let them see you sweat. Be their rock, their guide, and their support system and I guarantee you will always be needed. It does not get any easier when you send them off to college, so consider this the trail period. You have a ton to look forward to my lovelies! Here is to a great school year, whatever the age of your child.