If your “baby” is headed off to school for the first time, it’s natural to be stressed. Here are some tips from educators and parents who are well accustomed to first year jitters.
Written by Cassie McClure
For parents who are sending their children to school for the first time, the transition can be nearly as hard for them as it is for their children. Las Cruces has different options for schooling, but it also has plenty of educators and administrators who are dedicated to not only teaching what your child needs, but enabling parents to feel more comfortable with their child’s next big step.
Ray Jaramillo watches parents transition their children from daycare and pre-kindergarten children to elementary school students as the director for Alpha School. His gentle advice is a refrain of making sure that parents are empowered to build relationship with all those in their children’s lives, particularly their teachers.
“Don’t be afraid to ask,” Ray says. “Everyone is on the same page to find your answers.”
Ray explains that communication is key. “Disconnection between schools and family gets more pronounced every year students are in school,” he says. “But there are easier ways now to stay connected, for example apps that link you directly to the teacher and administration.”
Think teachers would rather have a hands-off parent? That’s a myth, Ray says, adding, “One thing I learned a long time ago is that for most teachers, the children in their class are like their children, they only want the best for them. At the beginning, that’s only words to parents, but if the parents establish that relationship, they’ll see that it’s not just words, it’s the teachers’ actions over time that proves how valuable we believe their child is.”
As a board member for the Las Cruces School Board, Ray has a chance to see some of his early graduates—the ones who were five or six when he handed them high fives—now walk across a different stage, at their high school graduations as he hands them their diplomas.
“The school district really does care, and when those relationships are in place, any hard conversations that may come along later will be much easier to tackle,” he notes.
Anna Emerick-Biad, head of the private school Acton Academy Las Cruces and “mom of five” (her favorite title), notes that the transition is important to your child in that it needs to be in-line with the new freedoms afforded to an older child with budding independence.
“Sending your child off to kindergarten is bitter sweet—I truly believe it can be harder for parents than children,” she says. “Beginning kindergarten signifies the passage of time and a transition into becoming a ‘big kid,’ which for some parents may be a hard transition to process. I encourage parents to focus on their child’s emotions and work to keep their own worries or fears in check. At Acton Academy, we encourage parents to give their children freedom to learn and grow at their own pace and to learn to be responsible for their school activities.”
Anna points out that the early years of school not only give a foundation in academics, but are also a time to focus on building character and learning to treat others with kindness. Like Ray, she believes that communication between parent and teacher is important.
So as your little one heads off to school for the first time, don’t fret and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Building a bond with your child’s teacher will serve everyone well in the long run.
Anna’s Best Tips for a Smooth Transition
A morning and bedtime routine helps your child adjust to their new schedule.
If possible, schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher before school starts to see the classroom and allow your child to gain a comfort level with their teacher.
Sending your child with a healthy junk food free lunch will help fuel their bodies for a day of learning. High sugar snacks or lunch items can make children easily distracted.
Often parents feel they must help their child with school projects so their child doesn’t “fail.” As a parent, don’t be afraid to give your child ownership of their work and step back and let them take charge. This equips them with responsibility and goal setting techniques. Even in kindergarten, learners can begin to manage their own learning.
Focus on Quality Time:
As the days become busy with school activities, carve out special time to connect with your child. In particular, reading with your child continues to be a very important activity in kindergarten.
Life is a journey. Enjoy each moment.