So, I sent my 5-year-old off to her first day of kindergarten this morning. It was less emotional than I thought it would be. Probably because I drove her there and then walked her directly into her classroom (as opposed to letting her take the bus on her own, which will 100 percent make me ugly cry when that happens), and because her first day was only three hours long.
Still, we prepared for the big day like it was The Big Day. She picked out her clothes last night before she went to bed. She went to bed early. We took her first day of school photo (see left). And in the car on the way to school, we went over the greatest hits: Listen to the teacher. Be kind. Try hard.
I couldn’t see her rolling her eyes. Maybe because she’s only 5 and doesn’t have that kind of an attitude yet (although, believe me, she’s got an attitude). Maybe it’s because I couldn’t see her in the rearview mirror. Or maybe it’s because it’s the same thing I told her every day before she left for preschool, so she kind of just doesn’t hear it anymore.
I did kind of feel like I needed to add some new bullet points to my advice repertoire. So when I came across (on Yahoo Shine) some back-to-school advice from a 10-year-old named Hannah Alper, who is a blogger, I knew exactly what I’d be telling my daughter on the way to the busstop tomorrow (in between sobs):
1. Participate in Class
This piece of advice from Hannah resonated with me particularly. When I went in for my daughter’s end-of-year conference last spring at her preschool, I was surprised when her teacher told me she didn’t speak up much in class. My daughter is a Professional Talker. And a Serial Interruptor. Not to mention she has a PhD in asking utterly inane questions. But that’s at home. In group settings, apparently, she can be a little more reluctant to speak up. I think she’s partially afraid of being wrong, as she has a need to please. Hannah’s advice?
“For classes like art, be creative, be artistic, and just have fun! You might find some kids who share your interests and become friends.”
2. Include Everyone
Hannah says: “Remember to give everyone a turn and include everyone that you can in whatever you’re doing. For example, if you’re playing soccer at recess, invite other kids to join you whether they’re in your grade or not.”
I always tell my daughter that she doesn’t have to be friends with everyone, but she has to be kind to everyone — and that she should treat people the way she wants to be treated. Encouraging her to include everyone is a good way to combine both pieces of advice, and to ensure that she continues throughout life with a generosity of spirit that has become a distinct and awesome part of her personality.
3. Ask For Help When You Need It
“If you’re having a hard time with something, ask your teacher or classmate for help,” Hannah advises. “If you don’t ask, you might not be able to solve the problem.”
Doesn’t it seem like little kids sometimes take a long time figuring out that asking for help is easier than (pick one) bursting into tears/whining/giving up/peeing their pants because they don’t know where the bathroom is? I tell my 5-year-old often that asking for help is a lot easier than all of the above. I need to remember it’s the same thing in school, because the bathroom isn’t far from her classroom — she just needs to ask for help in finding it before, well, you know.
4. Try Your Best in Everything
My daughter is super-excited about the school’s playground, the bucket of seashells in her classroom, and learning to read. She’s nervous about the cafeteria (can you blame her?) and tackling math. Surely she’ll emerge at some point as stronger in some areas than others. But she needs to know that all of it deserves equal elbow grease.
“We can’t all be awesome at every subject, but you have to try. Forget about being perfect-it’s never achievable. School is about learning new things and building on what you know,” Hannah says.
Photo credit: Meredith Carroll
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