My oldest son was born in 2013. When I was growing up, my Mom stayed at home with me until I went to Kindergarten. Since I value staying at home, I thought I was giving my child a gift when I decided to keep him with me until 4-years-old. Little did I know, I was doing him a disservice. If you’re a Millennial parent like me, here are 8 things you need to know when your child is starting preschool.
Here come some BIG truth bombs…
Starting Preschool: 8 Things Millennial Parents Needs To Know
It’s Changed Since Our Parents Sent Us To Preschool
As an adult, I’ve always appreciated my Mom spending the most time she could with me. She kept me home as long as possible and Kindergarten was only a half day. Today, Kindergarten is a full day from 7am – 3pm. In our school district, the youngest kids get on the bus first. That translates into pre-k being all about Kindergarten prep.
Now I understand that Kindergarteners must know how to write their full name when the school year starts. They must know 100 sight words by the first 100 days of school. Look at your county’s website and see what information is required of rising Kindergarteners – I was shocked.
Your Child Will Be Behind If You Keep Them Home
Don’t make the same mistake I’ve made. Kids are sent to school as soon as they can walk now. They are raised in these preschools. Kids learn to socialize, take orders from teachers, listen and develop fine motor skills. I sent my son to school and my first parent-teacher meeting was scheduled by the school after six hours of class time.
My child doesn’t have the strength to hold a pencil, gets frustrated easily and needs to work on socializing with other kids. It will take them longer to acclimate to the classroom setting.
Do Your Research
It’s OK to ask a preschool what educational requirements their teachers must meet. Don’t be shy and ask as many questions as possible before school starting. I made the mistake of being the shy new parent. While they are only 4-years-old, this is the foundation of their learning.
Teachers Want Everything Simple
From the type of gear you purchase to what you get them dressed in, teachers want it easy. After purchasing our $50 backpack from Pottery Barn, we were told our child should use a tote bag. Kids use a tote because it is easiest for them carry and they can slide paperwork in without the hassle of a zipper.
Those cute overalls you cherish seeing them in? School doesn’t allow the time to bother with such things. Preschool kids can wear elastic waist pants or leggings. Teachers will not assist in the bathroom (for obvious reasons).
You’ll Become The Only Advocate For Your Child’s Education
I was stunned at how early the teachers wanted to meet with me. Yes, my child was behind on technical school work, but I quickly became an advocate for my child. You are their voice. Know your rights as a parent. Ask how to prepare for a meeting and bring your spouse or any other set of ears. From Kindergarten to high school graduation, you are your child’s educational advocate.
Teachers And Administrative Staff Cannot Diagnose
My son is a very active boy. He loves running, playing with other kids, making noise and everything that comes along with a normal happy childhood. I know it’s normal because my Pediatrician told me so. They also reminded me that it takes kids time to adjust to school.
Staff administration and teachers cannot diagnose your child or tell you they need to be medicated for any reason. If you agree to educational testing for your child, the test results are forwarded to your doctor. They decide if it has any standing and they decide if your child needs medication.
Diet Does Make A Difference
Send your child to school with a low sugar breakfast that will keep them full until lunch. In our experience, behavior issues can be caused by hunger. I start our mornings with whole wheat toast and fruit or waffles that are topped with sugar-free syrup. It’s making a difference.
Take Learning Beyond The Classroom
The best thing I’m doing for my child is making our home a learning environment too. I reinforce school rules at home, like “keeping your hands to yourself” and “be kind to others.” I’ve invested in flashcards, workbooks, crayons, scissors and anything that I think will help us be proactive about learning at home.
If your child is behind when starting preschool, use the time at home to work ahead – that’s when most other kids are taking a break. I’m working 20-30 minutes daily and we aren’t taking the summer off. My goal is to make learning fun at home – it’s educational playtime.