Dear Moms, It Will All Be Okay

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Over the past week, kids have gone back to school.  If you lucked out and have a child with an easy-going temperament, this transition may have barely caused a ripple in the pool of your life.  If you have a- shall we say- more sensitive child, this transition back to school may cause some angst for both your child and for yourself.

Our seven year old son, Jack, falls into the latter category.  He just started second grade.  While Jack is exceptionally bright, and gets stellar grades, he tends to be emotionally immature, and gets amped up over transitions big and small.  Sometimes just asking him to turn off the TV or come to supper can trigger a meltdown. So, we knew going back to school after a long, lazy summer would not be a picnic.

About a year an a half ago, I wrote a post reflecting on Jack’s year in kindergarten.  It was a strongly worded rant about how difficult it was to watch my small son grapple with the big world of education.  Although he had been in daycare since he was an infant, and he attended a stellar preschool, going to a full-day-every-day-academic-program was grueling.

Jack would return home at the end of the day like a ticking time bomb.  He was exhausted and agitated at the same time.  We struggled to get him to focus on homework after he had already sat still for so many hours in school.  He would hold himself together emotionally and behaviorally all day at school, and then let lose a barrage of anger and anxiety once he got home.

My post about Jack’s experience in kindergarten has been one of the most read, shared,  and commented-on posts here at Momaste.  I’ve heard from many moms who shared a similar and heart-wrenching experience as mine and Jack’s.

I still believe our education system is, in many ways, flawed.  You will never convince me that giving five and six year olds homework, or keeping them still for six hours at a time is developmentally appropriate.  I believe there should be way more opportunities for physical activities during the school day, and that children should be offered other methods of learning through play and exploration.

Despite this, I also believe teachers do their best working in the constraints of this system.  For the most part, teachers are amazing, helping friends who want our children to succeed.  They work way harder than I would ever want to, know way more about academically educating my child then I do, and do a much better job than I could ever dream of.  This is one reason why I continue to send my child to school, and have faith in our system, however flawed it may be.

It is really hard to keep perspective on things when our children are involved.  With the benefit of a year and a half of hindsight, I would like to take a moment to write couple of things.

First off, it is all going to be okay.  Your child will adjust.  Please take heart.

It is hard to watch our little people struggle with transitions, but have faith in your child’s ability to conquer challenges.  Jack is almost always capable of way more than I give him credit for.  Trying times pale in comparison to watching a child discover inherent joy in reading or science.

Second, I’ve learned that kindergarten is a year of major adjustments.  So is first grade.  And second.  Every year represents new and different developmental milestones for your child.  While it feels like our hearts are shredded when our kids come home dragging their back packs behind them, flattened by fatigue, frustrated by social challenges, or demoralized by a bad grade, we can not rob them of these precious learning opportunities.

It goes against everything in our nature to see our babies uncomfortable, but we need to accept we can not make every second of life comfortable for them.

This is not to say we should ignore it if they are truly struggling or having a hard time.  Making your maternal presence known as your child’s advocate is important.  Every child has special needs and needs to have a pleasant and rational spokesperson speak up for them while they learn to do so for themselves.  Most teachers and school administrators will be open and sensitive to your thoughts and concerns.

Finding ways to ease your parental anxiety about school can also help decrease your child’s difficulties going to school.  Volunteering to chaperone a field trip, read to the class, bring in a special snack, or help out with the school dance are great ways to get involved and feel more comfortable in the school where your child spends so much time.  It can also be fun to see your child interact with their peers and teachers in this environment which is so often another world to us as parents.

Finding positive outlets for your child is important.  We put Jack in karate, where he has flourished.  It is great to have a place for him that is not only socially safe, but where he also develops confidence and self esteem.  Additionally, it is a way for him to work out some of his frustration and energy at the end of the day.

While I believe karate has been beneficial for Jack, I also make sure his schedule is balanced with plenty of “down time” on the weekends.  The schedule really depends on the child.  Some kids do much better with every second of their day scheduled and structured, however for other kids (like my son), having unstructured time for free play and relaxation is very important.

Finally, take care of your mother heart.  It is helpful to talk with other moms and friends who may be going through similar things with their own children and can offer sympathy and support.  In my experience, knowing we are not alone is sometimes the most valuable thing for a mom.

I wish you and your child love, and light, and luck during this trying time.  Just keep telling yourself it will all be okay, because it will be.  Your child will surprise and delight you over and over again as you watch them take on the world with their own unique charm, wit, and intellect.

Momaste.

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9 responses »

  1. Pingback: I Hate Kindergarten- This Mom’s Rant | momaste

  2. Hey, new to your blog and I love this post! My son, Elliot, also just started 2nd grade and he had a similar K5 experience. He did well but it was tough for him adjusting to sitting that long and he frequently came home on “yellow” because he acted out or was talking – he just had to move! He’s doing much better there but I can tell that it is still hard for him to behave all day and pay attention and then still be emotionally balanced at home. We’re still looking for ways to interact with him that keep him from spazzing out. 🙂 Thanks for a great post.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I found your previous kinder post by googling “I HATE KINDERGARTEN”. 🙂 Honestly, I’ve been really annoyed by the parents of older kids who are so nonchalant about the things that are making me apoplectic, but reading this post helped me hear what they’re really saying – kids adjust, it doesn’t get perfect but it gets better. I’m the daughter of two veteran teachers and believe in public education, but the reality of what my kid faces every day makes it hard to walk the walk. I discovered this morning that his teacher tells the afterschool care that her class is “not allowed” to do homework at aftercare. I guess her theory is that she must force parents to be involved? Not sure what rock she’s been living under but I bet like a lot of parents, I read every page of his homework with him when it’s sent home, and I check it all at the end (not to mention I’ve been reading to him since he was an infant, our house is loaded with books…) and it’s infuriating that she thinks she can mandate more theft of our family time. I think the hardest part is what you described, seeing a kid who was truly joyful and excited about learning become stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, and flooded. I really pray that this gets easier. We’re not in a position to pay for private school, and I dearly want our neighborhood school to work out. Thanks for the hope.

  4. It gets easier or we just get used to it (including children). Does getting used to it makes it better? With some it gets better, with some it gets worse. It all depends on child, teacher, family, etc. I just spoke to mom who was swearing to never use ADHD medication on her ADHD child when he was in K because her own brother has developed substance abuse based on ADHD medication. Well, guess what, her child is now in 4th grade, taking ADHD medication. She says it gotten much easier. I bet it has! I bet it has helped for her 4th grader to spend 7h in one room every day and then come back home and bring “more school” to do. Or maybe someone assured she did it for her child because he badly needed it? I do not think I can think of anything else other than giving in into the system? BTW, I just received the second recommendation to medicate my child who is barely made it to get ADHD label. Psychologist swore the child is perfectly fine, but talking to the few teachers at school gave in and labeled my son. Now we are in the 2nd grade. I wonder what will happen to us following down this road.
    Just as a side note. We have the best of the best progressive schools in a whole county with the best of the best piked out and selected teachers. So far from what I can see, they are really the best in spending like 50% of the children’s time to prepare for or do the tests in order to continue to be “the best of the best.” There is absolutely NO chance for individuality to be nurtured and endorsed in this system! I wish all the kids good luck in finding out their uniqueness and proving their talents to prospective future endeavors after 12 years of being pushed into the box.

  5. Pingback: “Hello. It’s Me. I’ve Thought About You For a Long, Long Time. . . “ | momaste

  6. I am sorry to say but as long as good parents say nothing, things will NEVER change. The school system is failing our children in many ways. Including health. A child will not be healthy if they can’t get up, out and move. They can’t move at school and they are given so much home work they can’t move after school or on the weekends because they spend the weekends catching up what didn’t get done. Every year more and more children give up on school or quiet after high school, more shootings and melt downs and suicides. They take more and more away from our children ever year PE now art and science. The school systems are also become more and more secretive and sneaky. I bet most parents don’t know their children can cry themselves to exhaustion at school and the school won’t tell you unless you have friends in the school/class. They tell you everything is great and your son/daughter is adjusting to school….. but at least half are not adjusting like they say, they are crying for hours and begging to go home or just leave in general.. I love that moms have a place to come and vent but it wont help if moms do not stand up to the ever changing school system and tell them ENOUGH treat our children like they should be treated. They are not little computers being programed! They have feelings and emotions and things they love and hate and fear and need. Our child’s educations must be a team effort between the school and the parents not the school trying to control and manipulate the children put in their care while keeping information away from the parents of these children. Some say it will be ok but no one can say that it will be ok with the school system changing the way it is and as fast as it is and with little, to no concern for the growing developing child that needs and craves a well rounded and loving education for at least the first few years until junior high. Oh on a side note to all those parents out there being force by an abusive school system to medicate your child so they wont bother the teachers a little info that was kind of scary for me. A friend was being forced by the school to medicate her son and she had just changed doctors and the doctor choice to due a genetic test for something called the fragile x gene since boys with this have a great chance of being hyper and unable to concentrate and turns out that was what he had. The schools do not know everything

  7. I am losing any belief that it will get better since most of this stuff my sons school does is new. So most kids doing things this way have only gotten to maybe junior high so they have no clue if it will encourage a child to go on to collage or drive them away from education at a break neck speed. When my 19 year old was in kindergarten it was great they played, they painted and did crafts and worked on all the regular stuff. My son loved school and grew to love it more because the school encouraged a love of education and he graduated with honors and went on to collage. This stuff they do now… no art, no crafts very little play time very rigorous schedule for elementary school work and home work.. causing kids to shut down or melt down and bringing out so much hate and anger from these very young children… What happened to the days when kids would come home from low level grade school happy and wanting to tell mom or dad about their day….sigh I know I may come off as an alarmist but I’m not, I am just very concerned about my sons future and I have been seeing a lot of connections between the way the school systems have changed and the changes I see in kids in this day and age. More anger, hatred, frustration, anxiety, stress, suicide, physical violence, depression. learning disorders, and all around behavior problems. Anyone wonder why?

  8. This is just what I had to hear! I just read the kindergarten post and this just reassured me that it’s going to be ok. Thank You

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