“You look interesting” as the little boy looked my son up and down and my son just stood there, not saying a word to the comment.
My mind started racing, “How dare that little boy say ‘You look interesting’ to MY son! Why does my son look “interesting”? He’s only 4 and you’re in what? 1st grade…don’t say my son looks “interesting,” welcome him into the group!”
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This all happened in a matter of a few seconds during our school tour the other day. My son was so excited to tour this school that he may be attending next school year, and the first interaction with the first classroom was a little boy saying, “You look interesting.”
I don’t think the boy meant anything by it, but the Mama bear in me immediately thought the worst!
After the few seconds had passed, the little boy welcomed him into the activity and all the other kids introduced themselves. The class was so excited because there was another little boy with the same name as my son.
Later on in the tour, the class passed by our son in the hallway and they were all calling out his name, waving hello, and so excited to see him again. We headed into their classroom, and they all welcomed my son onto the carpet to join in the story time.
My fears have officially surfaced with the realization that my son will be entering kindergarten next school year. I know all these fears are common with moms, but that doesn’t make them any easier to handle.
Common fears and ways to work through these fears are given in this article for Moms sending their kids to school for the first time, or for the 13th time!
Fears sending your kids to school:
Fear #1: Bullying
I don’t know about you, but this is my number 1 fear for sending my child to school. Bullying has become an unavoidable problem in schools these days. Children are becoming meaner and meaner at younger ages.
Bullying in itself can have an entire post dedicated to the topic, and I probably will write one about it in the future, but I’m going to graze on the topic now because it’s such a huge fear.
Bullying is something that can affect your child for the rest of their life, physically, mentally, and socially. And there’s not much you, as a parent, can do about bullying at school that can guarantee to solve the problem. There are skills you can teach your child if they are ever bullied.
Skills for a child being bullied:
- Encourage open communication with your child about everything. Praise your child for being brave enough to talk about what is happening.
- Take away the trigger that is causing the bullying (lunch money, a certain shirt/toy/shoes/pants)
- Tell your child to try not to react to the bully. Don’t show anger when the bully is around.
- Find a friend and buddy up with them. (Go to the bathroom with them, eat lunch together, have a buddy on the bus)
What a parent can do:
- Know the school policies about bullying
- Arrange a meeting with the bully’s parents in a neutral setting, with preferably a school official mediating
- Teach your child not to bully.
- Teach your child to stand up for other kids who may be targets of bullies.
- Always, always, always be in your child’s corner! Never let them feel alone in the battle with the bully.
Signs your child is being bullied:
- Changes in eating habits. Children may not be eating at school due to bullying.
- Decreased self-esteem
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or broken personal items
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
This is not in any way an exhaustive list.
Fear #2- Falling behind in school
Another common fear is that your child will fall behind in school. This can cause issues for children in school from acting out to coiling up and losing their self-esteem. The good news with this fear is that it’s easier to work out with your child versus the first fear.
Ways to help your child from falling behind in school:
- ABC Mouse-This is a great online program used by teachers and families for children from ages 2-8. You can get a free 30-day trial by signing up through here. Your child can get extra help in the subject areas they need help with.
- Ask the teacher for suggestions to help your child learn at home.
- Bring your child to an eye doctor! (S/he may need glasses to help focus!)
- Search Pinterest for ideas to teach the subject your child needs help with. Pinterest is full of suggestions!
- Help them with their homework! You’ll notice if they struggle and know where your child may need some extra help.
- Hire an after-school tutor
- Ask the teacher if your child can get extra help after school
Fear #3- Socially don’t fit in
My son will be young entering Kindergarten. The state we’re in has a cut off date just passed his birthday, making him one of the youngest in his grade. I’ve struggled with this idea. I’m afraid my son will be immature in some aspects of school because of his age.
What can you do to help?
- Keep in mind that it’s not a flaw if a child doesn’t fit in socially!
- Teach children how to be a good friend. Brainstorm what characteristics would make a good friend.
- Focus on the child’s strengths.
- Practice with the child small talk conversations.
- Teach them how to introduce themselves to new people.
- Teach your child to ask about others’ interests. Finding a common interest will help a child find friends.
- Role-play with your child so they can practice the skills that are most challenging for them. You may find you already do this with your child. I find myself asking my child, “What do you say?” a lot after someone does something nice. Or at the playground, my son used to run over to me and ask if he can play with another little kid. I’d always tell him to go ask the other little child
Just like you would do if your child is struggling in academics, you need to practice the skills to boost their chance of succeeding.
Fear #4- Child will be scared/have anxiety
Nerves are very normal. I was always nervous about starting a new school/having a new teacher/making new friends. I still get nervous with big changes in my normal routine (i.e. having a new baby, moving to a new city, changing jobs, etc.)
What can you do to help?
Don’t focus on what bad things could happen, focus on all the positives of school.
My son got his vaccines at his last doctor’s appointment. I was secretly so afraid he will be nervous about it and cry because of them. To prepare my son, I casually told him that he was going to get his vaccines but they were no big deal. The vaccines will help keep the germ bugs away. And that they’ll hurt a little but it’s quickly over and no big deal. (I didn’t believe a word I was saying, I’m sure because I secretly had the anxiety over vaccines myself.) Guess what happened! He didn’t cry and wasn’t scared. He thought of them as no big deal and acted that way too! I was shocked!
Parents have more influence over their child’s behavior than what they realize. If you’re calm and encouraging of situations, your child will be calm and positive going into situations.
Go to school tours/orientation
Allow your child a chance to get to know the teachers and school before attending. We’ve already been to the school my son will be attending in the fall twice, and we’ll still visit a couple more times before he attends on his own.
Ensure your child feels comfortable enough to ask for help when they need it
Practice this skill, because it is a skill! When a child is struggling with something, like zipping their jacket, wait to jump in to help. Let them struggle until they ask for help. If they get frustrated instead of asking, prompt them to ask, and then help them. If you jump in to help when they are throwing a fit and frustrated about it, they’ll learn that’s the behavior to exhibit in order to get help.
Fear #5- Too many pressures in school
Schools are going to give the work they give. There’s not much a parent can do about the work that is given. But parents do have control over the pressure put on the child to perform to high standards.
What can you do to help alleviate the pressures in school?
Cut down on the extracurriculars.
My son has been in basketball and swimming or soccer and swimming since he was 3, but he didn’t have the pressures of school at that time. Once he starts school, we’re cutting back. He won’t do any extras in the fall to help him adjust to his new schedule. He might be able to handle the extras, but I want him to continue to be a kid. I need time to relax at home, and so does he. There’s no reason to have a ton of after school activities at such a young age.
Focus on the positives. Don’t dwell on the areas the child could use extra help with.
Congratulate your child on the good work they’ve done in school. Address the areas they could use help with, but don’t make that the focus. And do NOT congratulate them and then add the “but” at the end of the congratulations. It’s no longer a positive thing that you are saying to your child by adding the “but” statement.
- Good job writing your letters so neatly, but it looks like you wrote this letter backward. (NO!)
- “Wow! Look at how neat your letters are written! You must be practicing so hard!”
- Later- “I noticed your B was backward, that’s a tricky letter! Let’s work on some tricks to help remember for next time!”
Most importantly, at such a young age, let them be a kid!
Let them play! School success is important, but playing is just as important, especially at a young age! They learn so much through play! Don’t let them get burnt out from academics by pushing them too hard!
Wrapping it up
These fears are unavoidable. Children grow up and are exposed more to the world around us. As parents, we would love to protect our children from any “bad” but that’s impossible. I hope you have found some comfort in reading this knowing you are not alone in your feelings.
Are there any big fears you have sending your child to school, whether for the first time or 1000th time?
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