Beginning of a new era

by Deb on January 27, 2010

Today is a very special day, mostly exciting but a little bit sad, too.

Today my big girl starts kindy.  (To get around the confusion of all the different systems, she’s 4, it’s part-time and it’s her first experience of formal schooling.)

She’s absolutely excited to bits, I’m a little bit apprehensive but whether it’s more for her or more for the teachers who don’t know what’s about to hit them I’m not sure.

There is a plethora of information out there on how to deal with first days, given that we only arrived home from our European holiday (it was fabulous, thank you) on Sunday I’ve probably missed out most of the things I ‘should’ do.  Plus we live in a remote town – we don’t have orientation days or booklists, uniforms will be available in class and the teacher was only finalised on Monday.  (At least there is one – in 10 years of teaching remote I never started a year fully staffed.)

But what about afterwards?  The thing I’m finding daunting is that my daughter is about to start a 14 year marathon. I’ve had 4 years of being her primary educator and I know I’ll still be doing most of it.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s not knocking schools, but I will still be the major influence on her attitudes, her interests, her abilities, through what I do, how I interact with her, and what I encourage her to do.  Two hours a day, increasing to six hours a day plus homework, can only scratch the surface.

So what can I, as a parent, do to support and work with the school to get the best for my daughter?  And importantly for me personally, how do I encourage and continue the love of science, exploration and experimentation I’ve been working on for the last 4 years?  I don’t know, I’ve never done this before.  But here are some of my thoughts.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Knowing what’s going on –
    • Being a parent volunteer.  Obvious, although may be difficult with the little one.
    • Talking to the teacher regularly, not just about school but making an effort to be friendly.
    • Making time to talk to the big girl one-on-one.
  • Supporting school –
    • More structure in the day – we’ve been all over the place, I think more structure will not only help with the similarity to school but will mean we get more interesting things done too.
    • Even when I disagree/don’t like what’s happening, don’t say anything in front of her.
    • Keep doing all the things we’ve been doing, especially anything they don’t do at school so we fill in any ‘gaps.’ The aim is for broad and balanced.

As a final point I’ll throw out there, we don’t do any teaching of letters or numbers etc.  If she asks while we’re reading of course we tell her, and if she wants to write a name or something we help with that, but I feel letters and numbers are just about the least important things they have to worry about at this stage.  Much more important are creativity, confidence, exploration, imagination, co-operation, visualisation, questioning, observation, curiosity, initiative, risk taking, persistence, memory, self-regulation, wow, when would anyone have time to learn letters before they start school?

Who’s doing this with me?  Or who’s done it before and can reassure us? 😀

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine January 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I’m with you – my son started preschool this morning too. I completely agree about the learning of letters and numbers – I’m sure that my son will learn them and think it will be easiest to just wait until he is really motivated to learn them. And I plan to keep doing other stuff, because I think schools don’t have the same one on one ability to help a child follow their interests (which is of course very motivating for learning) as parents do.

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Deb February 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

It’s been really interesting seeing what she’s bringing home. I have absolutely no early childhood training, but every time she tells or shows me something it pops into my head – Oh that would be great for fine motor skills! Or that’s a pre-writing activity! I think it’s hilarious that I can identify those sorts of outcomes, but it’s also reassuring.

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