Kindergarten: One Month In

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first day of kindergarten

Libbie’s first day of kindergarten was August 12th, and as of August 14 she was a full-time student. Wow, has it been so much more confusing and strange than I thought it would be, honestly. I was sure Libbie would love school, and it would be an easy transition. She does like school, but wow. My expectations were wildly out-of-whack.

Libbie has had epic meltdowns, the worst tantrums she’s ever had at almost 6 years old, and spends her time at home either loving David (3) to pieces or trying to rile him up in any way she can. This is not limited to hitting, kicking, outright lying, screaming, saying, “That didn’t hurt! Don’t tell Mommy!” and other methods of manipulation. The worst was the two weeks before she started and the first week or two of school, but it still surprises me what may bring out a temper tantrum. We are trying to stay calm … without letting her murder her brother.

She is INCREDIBLY tired by the end of the day. I figured she would be, and I imagine this also helps the tantrums and whining. Libbie still took a nap half the time until two or three months ago. We tried to break her of napping this summer, but it was hard. She was still used to having some afternoon quiet time, at least, to recoup. Even though I consider Libbie an extrovert, she recognizes that sometimes alone time helps her to center herself and release some of her strong emotions.

Unfortunately, given that her school is a lottery-type public school drawing from all over the county, it lets out later than normal elementary schools. We often don’t get home until after 4:30, and she goes to bed around 7:30. In that time, we have to address playtime, homework, dinner, bath, reading, and our nightly routine of family worship, brushing teeth, and tucking in. It’s a lot to cram in a few hours and really does not allow her downtime during the week when she’s not asleep. It makes me sad.

Smiling Libbie

Which bring me to, I definitely had the ARE WE DOING THE RIGHT THING crisis about 2 weeks in. I really hate that Lib is not home more. I hate that we have so little time with her during the week. We were absolutely convinced public school was the right choice for our family; as I have said many a time, I am pretty sure Libbie and I would kill each other if we homeschooled her. I love the structure of a local, Christian, small private school – but we live on a teacher’s salary and will have three children in elementary school. It is just not going to happen. I found myself chatting with JessieLeigh one night, unable to sleep with my stomach twisting and churning and my mind wondering what we could do.  (JL is extremely wise, has kids in public school, and her children are just a couple years older than mine.) She talked me off the cliff and helped me understand that there is no perfect choice, but you have to do what works for your family.

There is definitely an adjustment period with this schooling thing. I did expect that, but I keep forgetting it.

I feel totally lost. This isn’t preschool, where everything was laid out for me in a row, and I got a gold star for completing each task. (OK, not really. But you know what I mean.) In preschool, I walked Libbie in each morning and talked to her teacher directly if I had any issues. In kindergarten, I drop her in front of the school each morning and get her off the bus in the afternoons.

I have to do volunteer hours because it’s a lottery school, but I can’t figure out when or how to do them considering Joshua is with me all the time. I don’t know how to help Libbie do her “neighborhood” project when we live on a school campus. I don’t know when they are doing special things unless I have to pay for them!

It’s not preschool. It’s hard. I hate not feeling like I have all my ducks in a row.

So, that’s where we are, Lost Jessie the First-time Kindergarten Mom. Someone tell me it gets easier. Please?

13 thoughts on “Kindergarten: One Month In

  1. I have no great words of advice! Just wanted to say we are struggling a bit too with kindergarten! My daughter also used to still nap a few days of week, and being tired is something she seems to have trouble handling, it’s her trigger point for tantrums and misbehavior. We are doing our best to get her the rest she needs, but so far mixed results! We are just crossing our fingers that her body can adjust to this new schedule soon. Here’s hoping things get calmer for us both soon! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Oh yes. Libbie is EXHAUSTED when she gets home, and often napped even as a 5-year-old. She is highly sensitive and being tired just is not a great thing for her. But … c’est la vie, right? We all figure it out.

  2. I am a nanny and the oldest one I take care of is just starting kindergarten. We are finding out many of the same things that you are. Having had older children before I promise it does get to ge normal.

  3. I would encourage you to try homeschooling for Libbie for this year. It can be so very freeing for the whole family. The pressure is what one is more used to in the home. If it really isn’t a fit for your family, there is no year in school better to find out than during kindergarten. What takes all day at school can be accomplished in a couple hours at home. Still time for naps and family activities.

  4. jessie- CHANGE is hard, on everyone!!!! While i wont say it gets easier…YOU become more adaptable on what to expect..YOU can do this and make it work…I think the public school is GREAT..it puts the kids with all diff kinds of backgrounds…and ideas..it is hard but I think you & hubby CAN do this..when you have to do your volunteer time….surely there is someone who can watch ur other one(?) or two ..for a few hrs? Volunteer hrs cant be too long right? You get some warning of when you need to do this…. right? I am sure its very overwhelming to you know Jess…((((HUGS))))
    God will show you and your family the way..just have to be patient..

  5. Wow, that sounds like a really long day for her. I’m sure homeschooling would be stressful but in a different sort of way for you given that you have a 3 year old.

    My daughter cried for the first 3 weeks of kindergarten. She just started middle school and has many, many fond memories of elementary school. Her crying was just part of it. We did not traumatize her or us 🙂

    Here’s my two cents – give it at least 90 days and then if you see it is still not working, start thinking of other options. If it’s still as terrible, then the work to homeschool might be worth it not to have the stress of public school.

    And of course, pray about it. There’s is no right answer except where God leads your family. If you don’t feel peace about this and you continue not to, then I’d say it’s a sign He’s trying to lead you in a different direction.

  6. I am a public school kindergarten teacher for many years and that kind of behavior at home can be expected. The newness of school, teacher, classmates, schedules, is tough! It’s a big adjustment for the child and for the family. I finally got that when my own children were in kindergarten and their teacher told me to expect some tough times at home.
    It will get better as the rhythm and routines fall into place.

    • Thank you, Margie! It has improved and I am sure it will keep getting better. Adjusting to a new routine is always exhausting, especially when you have all the emotions and lack of control of a 5-year-old! God bless you for teaching kindergarten. 🙂

  7. My biggest piece of advice would be to try to connect with other families. Have you tried to coordinate volunteering with other K parents? I used to meet a mom and one of use would volunteer and the other would play with the little kids. Some days worked better than others, but it did work. Also, I wonder if there are ways to support the school (and get your volunteer hours) with tasks that can be done at home — like cutting out laminated items, filling journals with paper, etc, etc. Hang in there!

    • That is good advice. It had crossed my mind and then I totally forgot! I need to connect with the other parents whom I know have littler ones at home with them. I have tried to get projects to take home, but so far no success there.

  8. Does it make you feel any better to hear that I had a moment of, “Should I homeschool my kids?” last week? I am the last person on earth (not really, but sort of really…) who should be homeschooling. The transition to kindergarten is TOUGH!

    The perfect scenario for me would be to hire a private teacher who had her own school room and could teach my children for about 5 1/2 hours a day, and then bring them home to me so that they could play and enjoy their childhood, too.

    In other news, I need to buy a lottery ticket today. Because I don’t really see how that’s going to play out without a major windfall. 🙂

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