My kid starts kindergarten this year and I don’t know what I’m doing

My oldest is going to start kindergarten in the fall, actually school starts in August (what the heck, I never started school before Labor Day). She is not really excited about going to kindergarten, and I do not feel prepared for kindergarten either.

I’m not a mom who needs to know everything going on in my kids’ lives (I don’t care about signing my kids up for a million activities or regular bathing for that matter). We’ve been really lucky to have great child care for the past 3+ years (hellooooo nannies), but even when my girls were briefly in day care, I wasn’t all about staying on top of everything. I honestly had NO IDEA there was daycare drama between parents and the staff. In my mind I think, we just drop our kids off and pick them up. The day care is chock full of childcare experts and I am paying them to take care of my children. They do a good job (as exhibited by my kids being happy & healthy) so what’s there to be upset about? I am naïve. I stayed away from parent drama, BUT, now my kid will be starting kindergarten and it feels different.

Why kindergarten feels different

My oldest will step onto the big conveyor belt of education for life. I imagine a moving sidewalk (like in the airport terminals); and she does not step off until high school graduation (then hopefully college and maybe a graduate degree after). I do not know how I will react watching her take her first step onto the big yellow bus (I’m pretty sure there will be tears).

This is for reals people and I’m fielding questions I am not prepared to answer.

1. How diverse is the class or school district. Don’t I want my kid exposed to diversity?

I’m just putting this out there – is there research supporting kids who go to a diverse school are less racist as adults? I went to a fairly white, suburban, middle-class school from K-12. I was NOT thinking about having a melting pot of friends in the 8th grade, I was just trying to get through puberty.

More importantly, racism starts in the home. I think parents have greater influence on their kids’ values and beliefs than who sits next to them in class. As an adult, I have friends from all walks of life and I don’t think my school environment made a difference for me.  What was more influential was my mom telling me everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with fairness and respect.

2. Private or public?

I actually feel very strongly about this because my husband and I are both products of public schooling. My husband and I purposefully looked at only purchasing a home in a school district we would feel comfortable sending our kids to public school in. I pay taxes for the school district we are in with this goal in mind; I’m not planning on paying for private school too.

3. Class size, will she have the individual attention she needs?

Does my kid even need extra attention? I don’t know. I had some tutors growing up, and I scheduled time outside of class to meet one-on-one with my teachers.  Otherwise, I was always in a class of ~30 kids and it worked out fine. My graduating class had over 800 kids. I just didn’t know any different. If my kid needs more attention, time with the teacher, or extra help with school work, we’ll figure it out. I am not convinced a smaller class size is the answer.

4. How will I handle bullying/social pressure?

There is no way I will be able predict or prepare myself for handling sticky social media situations. I cannot speak to this as a parent, but as a middle-schooler, someone tried to start a rumor about me and I just shut it down (I could sense this girl was really insecure, so I never felt threatened). I have always had a really strong sense of self and relied on it to get me through tough times.

My schooling was before social media though, so I do not know what’s waiting for me when my girls start school. I can only hope they have a strong identity and innate inner strength to help them weather the social media storm.

Part of my responsibility as their mom is to help them internalize and accept exactly who they are with grace and self-love.

5. Do I need to be friends with the other parents aka my kid’s friend’s parents?

I already have a group of great girlfriends. I guess if I meet someone really cool and I want to invest in a friendship I would explore the possibility, but I’m not interested in becoming friends with someone because our kids happen to be in the same classroom.

6. How much do I want to be involved in school?

Time is my greatest commodity. I am not interested in signing up for committees or PTA groups unless it’s really valuable to me. It’s half-day kindergarten people! There will be decisions to make on how much time I want to commit to being involved in my kids’ school. If I think the school is doing a great job, do I really want to interfere?

In conclusion, my kid is actually really nervous about starting kindergarten. She said she’s scared because she’s never done it before (good point, Kid) and I totally get where she’s coming from.  I’ve never been the mom of a kid in school before either.  We’ll have to figure it out together.
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