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Sunday, September 6, 2015

the Kindergarten screening: what to expect

The Kindergarten Screening. It's something we all go through when preparing to send our child to school. It was something I wasn't sure how would go, what it entailed. I figured other moms would be curious as well, so here are some tips from my own experience with my son's screening last week, as well as from moms in the Facebook discussion Mommy Stories group.

My son's screening

Upon walking into the building, my son grabbed for my hand. He rarely holds my hand anymore... but he wanted me closer. I loved that. It didn't make me cry though, I held it in, trying to be excited for him. This was big. We were entering Kindergarten for real this time, not just when we registered or when I attended a parent night last spring before it was real.

When we reached the teachers, I had told him that he'd go in alone and I'd be waiting for him. "You come, too," he said, as he's said before, a handful of times. This is my brave boy, my go-getter. He never looks back. The moment I took him to preschool just to check it out... he ended up staying for an hour while I ran across town to pick up his sister at her sitter's house. He was so happy just playing, brave, confident. I love that. So independent. But a few times he's asked me to stay, too. I always reply, "I'll be right here when you come back. I'm not going anywhere. You're going to have so much fun!"

Right from the start, after meeting the teachers, my boy was whisked away to Kindergarten World. It was bittersweet and exciting! It wasn't the Real Thing though, not the first day of school, so I was a little less emotional this time around.

I teared up shaking the teacher's hand. Like meeting the person who is "taking over" my son for a little bit. It was emotional for .2 seconds. It was a weird moment. As if I was telepathically saying to her, "Take care of my boy. I'm new at this. He's my baby. Please understand that he's special." Her bright eyes seemed to recognize this First Time Kindergarten Mom Sap and she was ready for me.

She introduced herself to my son, I let go of his hand, reassured him he'd have fun, I'd be right in the next room when he was done. She took his hand. She didn't usher him forward or walk in front of him. She grabbed his hand. His tiny, little hand... she put it in her's and led him forward toward the most fun school adventure I know he'll have. You'd think this part made me cry... but it reassured me. It made me feel relieved, like she had him, she wasn't taking him, she was leading him. And she'd lead him right back to me a little later. It was good, comforting.

About an hour and tons of paperwork and a few chapters into my book later... my son ran back into the library to see me, big grin on his face, showing me his stickers and his name tag for the first day of school. He was eating animal crackers and had a mini size water bottle with his name written on it in black marker. He was pumped! So excited to tell me everything. I hugged him tight, grateful we'd both survived the first phase of letting him go toward this fun new Kindergarten World.

It was honestly not bad. I swear to you, it's easy. Granted, I have a boy who is not afraid to go with people and who isn't overly sensitive and crying... I imagine that if you have a child like that you'll be a little more nervous. Perhaps, calling ahead to tell them this transition may be tough and they may let you sit in on some of the screening, that could help.

Overall, YOU CAN DO IT! And your child will love it.

Tips for the Kindergarten Screening:

For your child:

  • wear comfy clothing. Our paperwork said to send him in sneakers. 
  • Talk about what this is: the teacher wants to meet you, show you around the school a little bit, and ask you some questions about letters and things. Do your best! Try! They are super nice, you'll love it!
  • Be positive, show encouragement. This will help her to be comfortable going off with people she doesn't know.
  • Sometimes they receive stickers, a gift bag of supplies, and/or a snack! It's fun!
  • They check language, letter recognition and pronunciation, speech, hearing, ETC. 
For you:

  • You don't go in with them for most of the screening... they keep you busy with paperwork!
  • bring a book or something for you to do. I saw one mom with a lap top working on emails and other work things! We had about an hour to kill time so it was good I packed a good book!
  • fill out paperwork - so much paperwork! 
  • have cell phone handy with phone numbers of emergency contacts, work #s etc
  • Let it go... whatever you taught him, whatever you forgot to work on or practice this month, let it go. He knows what he knows and that's it. The teachers are expecting your child to come in without knowing everything. That's expected and normal. Let it be. Don't feel pressured to have your kid know everything. What else would they go to Kindergarten for, besides to learn all that cool stuff?
Overall, this was not a tough part of the process! It's a primer for how it's going to go first day of school, and it's great for teachers to learn some information about your child before she starts. Breathe, it's easy peasy! 

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