By Contributor Pamela Chan
This September my twins will be starting kindergarten. You would think that this would be an easy transition considering I’ve had the opportunity to watch other children enter kindergarten (or grade 1 depending on where I was working) when I had a Montessori class. Instead I have mixed emotions about the prospect.
As a mum you experience all kinds of emotions related to this transition into kindergarten. In my case, since I’ve been with my children during the day since they were born, it will be a huge change to our routine to have them away from the house for six hours. Currently they are away from home for three afternoons a week while they attend preschool. I feel excited for them, a bit in the dark about what to expect, and nervous and emotional in the sense that I’ll miss having them around. I’ve seen many other mums write about this transition and there has often been mention of being teary eyed.
I know that my children will be excited to attend their new school, just as they have enjoyed going to their preschool. They’ll make new friends, have many interesting opportunities and I’ll probably be grabbing hugs and kisses from them as they rush into their classroom. I also know that whatever their teachers focus on will, undoubtedly, be different from what they would experience at home.
I also know that if I were to choose the homeschooling route, the curriculum that I would follow and develop at home would be quite different. There would be a heavy emphasis on outdoor school type experiences, arts and crafts, literature, Montessori type exercises and music. This isn’t to say that they won’t have some of these experiences at school but the approach will be different. Through my interest in outdoor education opportunities, I’ve met a number of home schooling families who live in the Lower Mainland. I’ll admit that it often sounds like an appealing option. But I also know that my children will appreciate and benefit from daily interaction with a wide variety of children and school staff members.
Recently we received notification from my children’s news school that a list had been compiled of the teachers who would not be returning. The main reason seemed to be staffing cuts. 100% of my children’s area of the school they will be attending was affected. Even though these lists (and the related recall lists) are common place, my husband and I were stunned. A potential recall list was mentioned but it’s unclear how many will return.
Part of the unexpected about our upcoming change relates to how I will fare connecting with adults in the new school community. A parent of older children was telling me that I should have low expectations about making social connections with other parents at school. That way I won’t be disappointed. Also if relationships start off strong – due to shared interests – but then wane, I won’t be bothered by the change. I have to admit that my expectation about how parents interact with each other – and with the teacher and schools – is based on observations of parents in the private (AKA independent) schools in which I was working as a teacher. I recognize that I wasn’t privy to all of the behind-the-scenes social intrigues, but still there did seem to be a strong network of parents. A number of years later they appear to keep up with each other, despite being spread around the world, and many of them keep up with me as well. (As do some of their children.)
So much of what I am thinking, wondering and worrying about – in relation to kindergarten and beyond – isn’t specific to the school my children will attend. I would have the same feelings at any school thy could attend. I also know that many of these feelings are unique to me and might not be shared by my husband. (Of course this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have topics weighing on his mind.) I suspect that other mums have similar thoughts and have tried to talk about them with parents whose children are starting kindergarten this fall.
During the summer my main goals are to continue to help my children to develop skills that support their ability to function independently in a school environment. We will also work on social and playground skills that will help them with social interactions.
I will need to adjust my personal routine so that I’m organized to tackle the school routine (including that popular topic – “making lunches’). I also need to think about how my schedule will be changing and what I want to do within my new schedule. What will and won’t be possible?
As my children prepare to go to school, I also feel that I am going back to school. Some routines have changed since I was a student, or working in a primary classroom, and others have stayed the same. The possibilities for how these changes will play out are slightly different for every family. My husband and I will work them out and hopefully everything will go smoothly.
The other day my son told me to stop worrying so much about him (IE a situation at hand) because I would hurt my head. I will try to follow his advice because it’s easy to worry too much and then fail to enjoy the moment.
Pamela Chan lives in the Tri Cities area near Vancouver with her husband and four year old twins. They enjoy exploring cultural events and scenic local parks. On BCfamily.ca she writes about ideas that strengthen our communities and celebrate multiculturalism in British Columbia.