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Congratulations! Your little one has graduated from pre-k, kindergarten, and is now in the big leagues of elementary school. This world is a little different than that of early childhood, but don’t worry, you’ve definitely got this. After polling some veteran moms, I put together a list of things you might want to know before that first-day-of-school photo.
Practical School Supplies
That cute little backpack is not going to cut it anymore. Invest in a full-sized carryall for your little one (my kids all have Jansport backpacks) that will stand the test of time. We try to buy interesting, but not trendy, patterns since these will last a little longer than one school year. May I suggest dark colors to hide the myriad of spills, markers, and ground crayons that will be absorbed? Similarly, get the good folders and the real pencils (Ticonderoga is still the best). Supplies are used and abused in a totally new way as your kids get older, so invest and hope for the best. The matching lunchbox is optional, but an extra treat may help ward off the . . .
The After School Slump
I don’t know if it’s a lack of snack time, nap time, or recess time, but there’s something about elementary school that can suck the sweetness out of your kid. It’s the after school slump. I drop off bright-eyed and enthusiastic children in the morning. At the end of the day, I pick up touchy and emotional wrecks. I keep snacks on hand to throw at them first thing, thus guaranteeing a few moments of silent chewing. A little sugar will hit, and they’ll be ready to talk about their day and tackle their afternoon activities. If a snack doesn’t work, try an audiobook that you listen to on the way home each day. This will give everyone time to decompress and definitely counts as minutes for those pesky reading logs that now count for . . .
While preschool and kindergarten typically rely on standards-based report cards, at some point in elementary school (first or second in most places), you’re likely to make the switch to numerical or letter grades. This can be a bit jolting at times and leave you asking what that 83 in math really means, or what skills need to be worked on to bring up a 72 in reading. Be sure to read your school handbook so you understand what numbers and letters correspond, and reach out to your child’s teacher to see how he or she grades.
I’m a big believer in grades not being as important as mastery, but my little perfectionists don’t like to see low scores, so it’s been a balancing act to find a happy-medium. Teachers are rock stars, and if you’re confused or worried that your child is stressing over the numbers, definitely let the teacher know. Even with the grades, make sure to . . .
Allow Your Child to Make Mistakes
Even when it counts for a grade, it is okay if the homework isn’t perfect, or if your child forgets his or her book. While elementary school feels like higher stakes than the pre-k/kinder days, it’s really the perfect place for your student to learn important lessons. No high school, college, or trade school will care about a missed assignment or bombed test in second grade. Even this anxious mother is telling you: it will be okay. Seize opportunities that come up to talk about learning from mistakes, and watch as your child grows. At least a few
mistakes learning opportunities are sure to arise when it come to . . .
I know that some teachers give homework in kinder, but I basically ignored that because I’m one of those parents. But, once first grade came around, I tried to be good and encourage my kids to do their homework. This was a great opportunity to begin introducing responsibility for schoolwork to my kids.
They learned very quickly that it was their job to write down their homework. My children are also in charge of showing their planner to me.
I encourage you to come up with a routine with your student that allows him or her to take ownership, even at a young age. As rising third graders, my oldest children are 100 percent in charge of their own work. Hopefully, this will pay off in the future. I sure don’t want to be calling teachers in middle school to find out about assignments! But go ahead and sign up for those remind texts. It will help you . . .
As your kids get older, it can be hard to keep track of work, home, extracurriculars, AND school. But don’t let that last one drop. Many of us can’t be at school during every class party or field trip. What we can do is respond to emails from the teacher and sign that pesky planner. Pay attention to the work your child brings home. It will mean a lot to both your child and the teacher.
If you’re a veteran elementary mom, what tips do you have? Comment below!