The first day in kindergarten; helping students with their emotions on their first day in kindergarten.
At the beginning of the school year, especially for kindergartener’s there is always 1 or 2 little ones who cry profusely for mommy. Many teachers are at a loss for what to do with these broken hearted youngsters. What’s a teacher to do on the first day in kindergarten?
Just know, this won’t be the first time or the last time you have crying tykes. Many of us have been there; whispering, into their ear, “come with me, it’s ok, we will have fun!” as you try to peel the child’s hands away from their mother’s leg. As a mother and a teacher, it is gut wrenching to watch for all parties. Children are attached to their parents as mommy or daddy have always been there for everything. Going to a new place they have never been before is hard and scary; the fear of the unknown is real. But just know, the pain is only temporary and the lasting memories of school will far out shadow these first time dreads. You and the little ones will get through.
For most kids the first day of school goes by quickly and they want action from beginning to end, therefore make sure there are many fun things planned and prepped to keep your kindergarten students actively engaged. Being prepared will be especially helpful for strugglers who don’t want to be there in the first place or who are scared/nervous. Distract with constructive action and before you (and they) know it, mommy will be there to pick them up.
Redirection will be a game changer for the first day in kindergarten!
The separation is so real for some kids that it can literally cause them to feel sick, or throw up. So, if they say their belly hurts, acknowledge, but don’t overreact. Often if they have their mind immediately on other topics which seem fun and engaging; their aches start to go away in no time. Remember, you can always acknowledge their struggle by saying something calming like, “I know, how about we look at a book or play with some play-dough.” (NOTE: Play-dough is great for the first month of school to keep little hands busy) Giving the child a choice of something to do will redirect their attention.
I recently just dropped my daughter off for college and I too feel a huge emotion of loss. There is a pit in my stomach that just feels so heavy and the tears wont stop flowing. So, really at any stage, when we let our children go on their own can be a challenge. But, we can get through it! A hug from my husband and a quick little pep talk helps, but the pit is real and I am not sure how long it will last. It feels like I have been punched in the gut and my throat is all scratchy, I can barely eat and everywhere I look reminds me of her. The empty kitchen chair that she always sat in remains empty. I am having severe parent separation and it just comes to me in waves of emotions, the emotion of loss.
However, it also gives me insight into how my kindergarten students are feeling, too.
They are leaving their moms and dads and coming to a new place. It’s a different feeling of leaving my daughter in college, yet very similar; the pain of the loss is the same. Being separated from loved ones whether it is for a few hours, or a few months, the pain is still there. Whether it is a child-parent or a parent-child, it is still there. So, this is a time for you to wear your, “counselors hat” as a teacher to step in and help ease the pain.
I have a new appreciation for what my students are feeling. And honestly it sucks. I know now, that when my students cry for mommy, I will be crying silently with them. I can honestly say, I do not remember crying for my mom when I went to kindergarten for the first time, but I know what my students are feeling is real and as a mom who is a teacher, I can help them with this new emotion they are feeling. Because I can be empathic to their transition and provide a safe haven that is fun and loving until they meet up with mom again. You too can do this for your kindergartens as they come to you for the first time. Before you know it, many of these students who once felt trepidation to come to school will not want to leave.
When you have a student in your class who is feeling the separation, here are some tips to help them with their feelings on their first day in kindergarten:
- HUG, give that child the biggest hug and tell them you love them.
- Go over the schedule with them, count how many things you will do.
- Take a picture of them to send to their parent. (Homeroom app is a great tool to send pictures to parents-just get permission first)
- Have them draw a picture or make a card for their mom or dad.
- Give them a lot of praise.
- Have them select a stuff animal (I keep a pile in the reading area)and give it a great big hug.
- Acknowledge their feelings, sometimes just a simple, “I am here for you and I understand,” goes a long way.
You can make a difference.
Kids are all different, some kids will go to school and be totally fine, not even bat an eye lash. However, then there will be those who are at a lost in a sea of emotional, “Where’s my momma!” land. Many of these little ones are feeling these emotions that they have never experienced before. My best advice to you is; just, be there for them. This is a time in their lives they will remember how you made them feel. Turn their pain of lost into love and encouragement. Keep in mind, they may not be able to articulate how they are feeling, missing mommy/daddy on the first day of school is a real emotion. They may act out or sit and do nothing. That is ok, and perfectly natural for some at first. They just need to have some understanding, love, and support from you, too. And for my students who are missing their mommies and daddies on the first day of school, I will be there for you with a hug and a tissue, just like I know all of you caring, dedicated at kindergartens teachers will be, too!
Tips for parents to help ease Kindergarten transition:
- Visit the school and classroom prior to the first day, most schools will host a meet and greet or open house.
- Take a picture of your child with their teacher.
- Take a picture of their locker/cubby.
- Have your child explore the classroom.
- Make sure your child gets a good night sleep each night prior to the first day of school and the night before.
- Have your child’s favorite breakfast ready for them and have them pack their lunch too the night before.
- Have a special handshake.
- Visit the playground.
Do you want to get started as a teacher blogger? Go to: https://kaysemorris.com/7-helpful-tips-on-how-to-blog
Getting ready for the 1st day of school? Check out these blogs from my teacher friends, Shelly, Debbie, and Angela!
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