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Friday, August 8, 2014

heading to Kindergarten - Larissa Ragazzo

Thanks to Larissa Ragazzo for sharing her son's story of going to Kindergarten last fall. I know many of you moms are sending your "babies" on the big yellow bus pretty soon, and I hoped having moms who have been there answer some questions would help you feel less nervous, like your child is going to LOVE school just like this little guy has! 

Thanks again, Larissa, great suggestions and ideas for moms sending their kids to Kindergarten soon!

All photos by Larissa Ragazzo

1. When did your child go to Kindergarten, and how old was s/he exactly? Robby went to Kindergarten last fall (2013) he was 5 years and 2 months old.
2. How did you know your child was ready to start Kindergarten? With Robby's birthday being the end of June, I always said we would be open to starting Kindergarten at 6. However, after a year of preschool at 4 we knew he was ready! He has always loved going to school and was reading a little by his 5th birthday. Honestly I think it is a follow your gut kind of thing. I have known plenty of people who know that their son/daughter is young emotionally and not ready for Kindergarten and they make the decision to wait a year.
3. How ready did you feel for your child to start school? He was 100% ready! Academically he was ready for the challenge. He was also emotionally ready. We talked about how much fun school would be and how many new friends he would meet. He started going to daycare at 8 months so he has always been going to "school."
4. What were you most nervous about when it came to sending your child to school? Name a few things if you have more than one concern. Robby was still taking naps (1-2 hours a day) during the summer before Kindergarten. I was nervous that the long school day (full day Kindergarten then up to an hour afterschool care) would be too much for him and he would be a wreck (he gets very sensitive when he is tired).
5. How did your worries turn out? The first couple weeks he was very tired, but he eventually got used to his new routine. He fell asleep within minutes of being put to bed each night!! He still naps occasionally on the weekends and during vacations (he has a 3 year old brother who still naps).
6. What did you do before the first day of school to prepare your child for Kindergarten? 
We talked about it a lot. We focused on the fun he would have, new friends he would meet, and the new things he would learn.  

Our district also has a 3 morning "camp" before school starts where the students get to go in and meet their teacher, and do some low-key activities (read stories, art projects). It allowed him to see the building and know where to go on the first day. The hardest part was waiting another whole week before school officially started

7. What advice do you have for a mom sending your baby to Kindergarten for the first time? What helped you to get through that big milestone?
My advice would be to keep your fears to yourself. Our kiddos pick up on our feelings and will mimic them ... It is absolutely OK to feel nervous or sad about sending your baby to Kindergarten, it is a huge milestone. When you are talking to your child keep it happy and exciting then there won't be tears/fears on the first day and it will be way less traumatic for mom.
I am a teacher so while I was getting my baby ready to go to Kindergarten, I was also gearing up for my new year. I think that the distraction of getting myself ready for school helped me get through his first day.
8. Any good books you read yourself or children's books about starting school that you'd recommend to others? Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, The Night Before Kindergarten, we read a couple other Kindergarten/school themed books as well that we got from the library.
9. How did your child do the first day of school? Weeks following? The whole first year? What great things did s/he learn or get to experience? Robby loved his first day of school! He got off the bus with a huge smile excited to tell us all about his day. He is a child who absolutely loves school. He was upset to learn that summer vacation is 2 months long I can't begin to list the things that he learned and experienced.

10. Did you do anything special on the first day of school - take a first day of school picture so you could take a last day of school picture, follow the bus there, have family waiting at the bus in the afternoon, celebrate with ice cream or a treat after school, etc.?
I wanted to make the first day of school special so I arranged with my principal to come in a little late the first day (I don't have a homeroom so I have some flexibility here). I dropped my youngest off at daycare then came back to put Robby on the bus with my husband. My husband and I met him at the bus stop after school and took him for ice cream to hear all about his day. I also always take first day of school pictures
11. What supplies does a new Kindergartener need for school? Suggestions on great things to get or places to buy them? Aside from the obvious backpack and lunchbox there aren't many school supplies a kindergartner needs. My son's teacher sent home a list of supplies for students to bring in that were added to the communal classroom supplies.  
I made sure to have pencils, crayons (separate from our everyday crayons), glue sticks, a pencil sharpener, scissors and a ruler in a "homework bin" so that (in theory) we would always be able to find what we needed for homework.
12. What were some challenges or things your child had to adjust to in the beginning going to school? What helped your child get through those things? It was a new routine for everyone, but he was so excited about going to Kindergarten that the new routine didn't affect him.
13. Looking back, what is the best part about your child going to Kindergarten? No more paying for full time daycare!!!!!
14. Anything else you want to add? Starting school is a huge milestone for everyone in the family. Get involved so that you know what is going on. If you are fortunate enough to have the time, volunteer in your child's class. I joined the PTA and found it to be reassuring to go to a meeting once a month - it made me feel connected to the school. Also, if you ever have a question or concern, talk to your child's teacher right away. Teachers want what is best for all their students, but they may not know there is a problem unless you bring it up.

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