Rachel Garlinghouse doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes she made when she sent her daughter to kindergarten:
Last year, I sent my oldest “baby” to kindergarten. My dreams of a utopian school year were only crushed by one person: me. Why? Because I made some rookie mistakes, mistakes that nearly drove me over the edge. Here’s what I did, and why I won’t be doing it again this year.
Here are the five things Garlinghouse won’t be doing:
1.Make sure every snack and meal are perfectly balanced.
It was incredibly stressful to make sure that my child’s every snack and meal contained just the right protein-to-carbohydrate-to-fat ratio, including two servings of fruits and veggies…
2. Carefully select her outfits.
It’s grade school. Prepare for sweat, marker streaks, mysterious brown stains, and dirt. The kids will get holes in their clothes and scuffs on their shoes. They will drag their monogrammed Pottery Barn backpacks up the bus steps and down the school hallways. Stop trying to coordinate your daughter’s pants, shirts, hair barrettes, and socks like she’s a Gap model. Before your child walks out the door to school, there is only one question you need to ask yourself: Is the child dressed? If the answer is yes, high-five your kid and give yourself a pat on the back. Success!
3. Volunteer to help at every classroom party.
… This year, I plan to help at two parties, tops. I’m saving all that money I would have spent on party supplies for a new bottle of much-needed wine.
4. Keep every single paper she brings home.
You’ll retrieve no fewer than 27 pieces of paper from your child’s backpack every single day… Most papers will be stained, wrinkled — or worse, damp from a mysterious liquid. Your kid wrote a whole line of capital Bs? Admire the paper, high-five the kid, and place the paper in the recycle bin (lovingly, of course). Then go celebrate a great school day with a non-perfectly-balanced snack.
5. Project what my child’s future will look like based on kindergarten experiences.
Your kid cries when you leave him? No, it doesn’t mean he’ll live in your basement forever playing video games in his pajamas. Your daughter earns a “satisfactory” instead of an “excellent” for her reading abilities? Please don’t e-mail the teacher, gushing in run-on sentences and all caps that you are certain the test was inaccurate. Your child has years to develop and blossom and learn, so open that new bottle of wine and toast yourself. Your kid is doing great!
Mind your attitude. Not all children are excited about the start of school, but a positive attitude can be contagious. Instead of saying things like, “Your teacher won’t allow that kind of behavior in school,” try being positive by saying, “I know your teacher will be so excited to hear all about our trip to the mountains.”
Help an older child get fired up about what he might learn this school year: “This is the year that you get to study astronomy. I can’t wait for you to teach me which star is which.”
Dr. Damian Ternullo made this important point yesterday on The PediaBlog for students of all ages:
Designate and make ready a homework place. For even the most reluctant child, there’s nothing quite like new school supplies. (Remember?!) After you have shopped with your child, decide with him where he will do his homework. Not only should he have his notebook supplies, but also he can feather his homework nest. The more involved he is, the more willing he will be to settle down and get to work.
Finally, a tip to make parents’ and kids’ lives a little less stressful:
Do as much as you can do the night before. Help your child lay out his clothes (if necessary); set the table for breakfast; make the lunches; put the grounds in the coffee maker; put trip slips, backpacks and anything that needs to go to school by the exit door.
All good advice!