Kindergarten anxiety


My baby boy starts kindergarten in September. That's just a few months away. I'm very emotional about this, because I'm just not ready. Not at all. My baby boy, my first born son, is going to start school in the fall. How can that be? How can this little baby be ready for school already?

I was reading a 'Kindergarten Readiness' checklist the other day, and here are some things on the list:

Speaks in complete sentences most of the time - yup.
Understands and follows directions with at least two steps - yup.
Understands vocabulary related to direction, size and comparison - yup.
Makes simple predictions and comments about a story being read - yup.
Participates in repeating a familiar song, poem and/or nursery rhyme - yup.
Matches three letters with the sounds they make - yup.
Demonstrates independence in personal car - yup.
Copies figures such as circle, straight line, etc. - yup.
Hops, jumps, runs - yup.
Interacts with other children - yup.
Separates from parents by appearing comfortable and secure without parent. UM. No!

Now... this is what scares me. This is where I think it's going to be really hard for both of us! I'm not ready to leave him alone! Sure, he runs off to play with his friends and cousins, but I'm always close. Like, in another room. He's never been by himself - he's always had either me or his father or my mom or grandmother or mother-in-law with him. How hard of an adjustment is this going to be for us? For him? I know everyone goes to school, and everyone adjusts over time, and there may be tears the first few days, and he will eventually love school -but I'm worried about those first few days where I have to be the brave and confident parent and just leave my son at school. Without me. And what if I don't like his teacher? Then what? Clearly, I'm not prepared for this next very big step in his life.

We talk about school, and I know he's ready in many ways. But those first few days are going to be tough. I'm thinking of taking time off work so I can hide in the bushes at his school. You know. To make sure he's okay. Or maybe I'll just quit my job altogether and be a 'teacher's helper' - think that would work?

How did you deal when your child started school? Was it harder than you thought... or an easy transition?
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Nap Warden said...

Haven't dealt with it yet...and I'll be a mess!

Anonymous said...

Yes, no matter how prepared you think you are for kindergarten, you really aren't. And each child is different. My son, who is very outgoing and independent and went to half day preschool last Spring to prepare for Kindergarten, he started JK last fall and was completely freaked out. It took us all by surprise. The last of my children I was worried about. But it did pass and he loves it. We even moved to a new school and he had no adjustment period.

I think being there to talk about it and share in his nervousness and excitement is all you can do. And know that you will both get through this :-) This is an exciting time.

Now if I can only remember that when my baby goes to school in 2010!

andrea from the fishbowl said...

I think we had an easier time with it because both our kids had experience with daycare/preschool before they started kindergarten. The transition was easier because they went into it kind of knowing what to expect.

I wonder if there's some kind of program (like at Mothercraft?) you can tap into. Even if it's for an hour once a week during the summer. Who knows. It might make a difference!

Our school does gradual entry into Jr and Sr. kindergarten too. Does yours? I think it might help!

Jenuine said...

When my husband and I dropped Hannah off on her first day of kindergarten we both cried as we walked back home. But it does get better/easier. I volunteer in Hannah's class on Monday and Wednesday mornings. I love doing it. It shows Hannah that I want to be involved in her life and education and it's a chance for me to really get to know the other kids and parents. You'll be okay, and your little guy will love school. Chin-up!

Chantal said...

It was hard with my first (he is in grade 2 now). He struggled on and off that first year. He just didn't understand why he couldn't just stay home. It didn't help that I was on mat leave with my 2nd boy. Now it is my second sons turn to start in September and I have to admit that I am finding myself way more emotional than I though I would. But he will be fine. He is a totally different kid. No anxiety in this one.

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

Reagan and I are EXACTLY the same way. I would give her a "yup" to all of those on the list except for the last one... that is a resounding NO WAY DUDE!
We start pre-school in the Fall, and it's only 2 days a week for 2.5 hours each of those 2 days. I'm hoping this is going to be a small enough transition that she and I can both handle.
Seriously... WE ARE NEVER APART! Only when I have to work a wedding, and even then she is still home with her Dad. She has NEVER had a babysitter... other than my parents!

Burgh Baby said...

I'm going to be an awful mess, and mine goes to daycare now. It's DIFFERENT when it's big kid school. Waaaaaaah!

A Crafty Mom said...

I think all schools in Ottawa do graduated entry - it will be very slow, he will do a couple hours here and there, then half a day, then he will go for the whole time. The teacher will work with you to ensure the transition is smooth.

Like cabadov said, each child is different. We expected major problems from our oldest son this year, as he had major separation anxiety in the past, but he was FINE and hopped on the school bus and never said BOO! I put both he and my second son (starting J/K in this fall, too) in preschool two mornings a week a year before school started to get them ready for the transition. I would see if there is some type of program you can put him in over the summer where he is dropped off for a while.

It IS hard, but I can guarantee you it will always go better than you think it will. He will fine, and you will be fine, I promise. :)

p.s. one nice thing to do is send him to school with a keepsake and maybe a small picture of his family to keep in his bag to get whenever he needs it. Many teachers recommend this and it really, really helps some children adjust.

MamaJoss said...

Oh Mommy...I hear you. I'd (will be) a wreck too when my baby boy goes off to school. You know, like anything I'm sure there will be adjustment period and then, you'll BOTH do great! I know it.

Loukia said...

Shannon that part of letting him bring a keepsake with him almost made me break down in a serious cry session here at work! And I'm thankful for graduated entry... that should make things easier, right?

Thank you all SO MUCH for these comments. I'm going to read them over and over again until that day in September where I have to pretend to be a tough mom!

Andrea, I will see if there are any Mothercraft programs near us. Or even a summer camp for a few hours a day during the summer at one of the neighbourhood community centres.

Chantal, I think he might also be wondering 'why' he just can't stay at home... kind of sad!

Okay so to all your awesome moms who will be going through this in September too - at least we're not alone, right? There should be some great blog posts to read in September, huh?

Thanks again, everyone!

Julie said...

Oh my, it's goign to be a long summer for you if you are starting to freak about this now! ;-) Check my blog in about 2 years and see what a mess I will be.

Anonymous said...

we shall bond together, pour ourselves a glass of wine, and share our sorrows via twitter. I'm guessing it will be a late couple of nights for both of us!

Kelly said...

I can't even imagine my oldest going to school. She's never been in daycare so having her gone 5 days a week will be big adjustment.

Ps. I can't find your e-mail address. Can you e-mail me so I have it?

Shannon (AnchorMommy) said...

Sure wish I had some advice for you, but I'm still a few years away from my boy's first day at kindergarten! But just think how proud you'll be of him when the tears are over and he's growing and learning!!!

I have to say, I got quite a laugh when I imagined you crouching in the bushes. But I bet I would consider doing the exact same thing. :-)

Lady Mama said...

I'm SO fearful of this too. For us it won't be til next year, so I've no useful advice, sorry. I do think it's tough for everyone though. I guess it's the first time they're really on their own... sniff.

Rebecca said...

I won't be much support - not starting school yet, and the thought of him going to nursery school a few hours, a few days a week has us in pieces.

I will say, it all works out. He will do fine, and so will you - eventually ;)

ps: My husband's answer to it all: I should homeschool ;)

Elaine A. said...

I'm kinda in the same boat, although my son has gone to pre-school so he's used to being separated for a few days a week. But five? Not so much.

I pray it's an easy transition for ALL of us! : )

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I remember leaving my 18 month old daughter at daycare. Ugh. . .the tears (both of us)! It's hard, but he's at least a little older and will hopefully understand that you are coming back for him!

My kids aren't in the school system, but I remember hearing that one test we have to see if they're ready for school is to see if they can skip. Skip?!? What an odd criteria.

Ms. Porter said...

My oldest (Mouse) is going to begin grade 1 in Sept and my youngest (Bug) is starting JK. When Mouse started JK it went really well, the staggered start was helpful and she only went half days so she was gone 2 1/2 hours each day which I think helped. Mouse did go to preschool 2 mornings (for 2 hours) a week the school year before beginning preschool but otherwise was rarely with anyone besides me or Bert. You will be surprised by how well the kids do.....but you???? Hmmm you might not do as well as your son! hahaha most of the Moms were the ones doing the crying (me included).

I am sad about Mouse starting grade 1 next year, I will miss her during the full days that she is at school. Bug is very excited to begin JK and because it's only half days I'm okay with her going.

Capital Mom said...

It is hard. Our daughter had never been away from either of us when she started pre-school at 2 and a half in January. It took about two months before she adjusted. She was fine the first week, but the second week was rough when she realized this was going to keep happening. She would cry and ask for me, and the school even called me once because she was so upset.
The teachers were great. Maybe you could talk to the teacher in advance about your concerns and see what suggestions he/ she has.
What finally helped was talking a lot about the routine of school (she was having trouble with the transitions from one activity to another) and also she took a small stuffed animal with her. I think it helped to have something from home with her. It made her more confident. Now she loves school, but any disruptions, like travel, can make her not want to go again.

Elisa said...

Oh, I know! I cried the first day Sarah started kindergarten! Me, not her!! I waited until I was out of sight, but still... talk about a milestone meltdown ;-)

The White House said...

Oh- Kindergarten! He will be awesome. I taught kinder and pre-k and as a teacher, now parent, I would say this, don't linger. Prepare him ahead of time for the great fun that he is going to have, remind him that you will be there to pick him up after a little bit, and then walk away. Do not linger. Even if he cries. Kinder teachers are prepared to comfort kiddos in these situations and the longer you linger, the harder it will be for him, and you! He'll do great. May take him a couple mornings, but he'll do great!

BeachMama said...

It was aweful. I remember like it was yesterday. J had gone to Duffer Doo once a week for a few months and although he loved it and never cried, he was only gone for a couple of hours once a week.

Leaving him in the school yard just about killed me. Apple was only a couple of days old so I was already a little emotional but, he stood halfway between his teacher and me. I knew he was scared, but we kept giving each other the thumbs up. He didn't cry, but I did.

He made it and it was hard. He wouldn't let me leave him at the yard (JK & SK have a fenced in yard at our school) and walk away until November. Now, he barely waves.

I can't believe how much he has grown in his almost two years at school, there are good days and bad days for both of us. Next year is grade 1 and I know it will be a huge adjustment for both of us again.

Oh yes, and he has never stayed with anyone other than family until he started school and got a best friend or two, he has now gone for play dates without me, yet another thing to get used to. Can't wait for his first sleepover.. oh yes I can!

Loukia said...

I'm getting even more worried after reading what you guys have to say! Anna, I can imagine your tears... could not have been easy, especially with a brand new baby, too - talk aobut emotional! I was in tears for days after baby number 2 was born, because I felt so guilty for spending less time with Christos.

I guess what you're all saying is - it's going to be way more TOUGH for us - more than it will be for the little ones! Still... sigh.... :(

Thanks again for your wounderful comments!

Connie Weiss said...

I'm really worried about this too. And more than being away from me....I'm worried about my kids being away from each other. They are 11 months apart and inseparable.

I think my solution is going to be to send him to 3 day a week (2 hours a day) preschool when he is 4 so that he gets used to being *at school* and they get used to being away from each other.

Good Luck!

The Dental Maven said...

When my little guy was that age we both disliked being separated. So the summer before school began we sent him to a 3 hour a day summer camp. He cried the first day for a short period of time, then he loved it! That helped both of us to be ready for school.

Jenn said...

Luckily for me, my kids run into preschool without even a backwards glance or "goodbye" half the time! They love preschool, and it has really helped with the separation issue.

Definitely try to find a drop off camp of some kind, or a drop off summer class. It will help him get used to it, and with a shorter class time he'll know that you will be there to pick him up.

Stiff upper lip and all that, Mommy! They read us all too well. If you are anxious for him, he will know.

Jessica said...

Oh, I loved the "maybe I'll hide in the bushes." Hilarious.

I think you'll do great - take time off, do whatever you have to do the transition the best way you can.

I don't know how I'm going to deal with it. Luckily, I have a few more years to go before I have to even think about it!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

well each child has been different - we started with preschool at age two for my son - once a week - it sort of went well, but not so great that we kept him there all year. The next school he went to was and Intl school in Beijing and IT WAS AMAZING!! when we got back to the states we found another great school for him and he has done really well. Now with my daughter we went through 3 different preschools before we found one that was a good fit for her. Unfortunately with two children in private school we did not get to pick the best of the best like we did with my son (only paying one tuition vs two). Now with the baby - she marched right in and didn't even wave goodbye!

Loukia said...

My youngest is more social then my oldest son. I think he will ease into preschool better then his brother did. Then again, we never left Christos the times he went to playgroup/preschool - so it's mostly our fault, I guess. But I'm confident that Dimitry will be ready in the fall to go to playgroup a few mornings a week. Well - I say this now - but I'll probably chicken out come September!