I loved elementary school. Looooved it. My parents divorced when I was 5 and dad took off for a job in another state while mom spent all her time working. Kindergarten was my safe place. It was bright, colorful, happy, and filled with responsible grown-ups who really seemed to care about me, from the principal all the way down to the janitor.
But even though I loved it overall, it was a hard adjustment. Not academically so much as just being “on” all day for all these new people. The first five years of life were spent home with mom where I was comfortable; I knew what behaviors would earn me praise and I knew which ones would land me in Time Out. School was a different story entirely. I had to be on my game. No tantrums, no tears. And if tears threatened — and they often did — I had to hide them because who wants to be the cry baby? I remember being so exhausted the minute I got home from school each day that I’d immediately drop into a deep sleep.
Sucking it up all day takes a toll, especially when you aren’t used to it. Anyone who works full-time knows how draining work can be and it’s not necessarily because you’re doing hard manual labor or even working out your brain; it’s having to interact all day and have your public face on.
This concept is why one teacher sent home a fantastic note with her students to remind parents of kindergarteners to go easy on their little ones. As The Huffington Post notes, the letter was typed and the teacher had signed each student’s name at the bottom as if it was from them to their parents. Here’s what it said:
Dear Mom and Dad,
This was my first full week at my new job. I have a new teacher, a new room, a new curriculum, and many new friends.
With all of these new beginnings I am making many adjustments and I have many things to remember. When I get tired, irritable, or easily upset, remember all of the adjustments you had to make when you started a new job (and any fears you had) and this will help you remember how I feel.
You can help me a lot by listening sympathetically, being understanding, giving me your support, helping me get rest, and giving me lots of love and attention.
Thank you for loving and caring for me.
This letter serves as a compassionate reminder to all parents dealing with cranky back-to-schoolers whether they’re in kindergarten or older: be gentle! Recognize how hard it is for little ones to keep it together all day and feel honored that they’re so comfortable around you that they can release and vent when they’re with you.
Image source: Monica BielankoMore On