by Kerry Rivera
My eldest son achieved another milestone this week, graduating kindergarten, and is now ready to embrace full-fledged membership into grade school. Hooray!
He can read … kind of. He can add and subtract … to a degree. He can even march into class all by himself … minus Mom or Dad signing him in to some daycare computer system.
Even more important, over the past nine-plus months, I have seen his self-confidence rise, his love for learning grow, and his ability to problem-solve – in the classroom and on the playground – skyrocket. To say the least, I’m really proud of him, and I just can’t believe how much he has grown up in this short school year.
I’m also kind of proud of myself. Some of you may recall that I was agonizing over where to send him to kindergarten – private, or Montessori, or public? How would this choice impact his learning, his ability to thrive and his social skills? Would this one decision screw his chances for future success – setting a course for delinquent behavior – or would kindergarten pave the way toward his future PhD?
We ultimately elected to send him to our neighborhood public school and he was fortunate to land a terrific veteran teacher able to guide him through this transitional year – no longer a preschooler, but not yet a full-day grade-schooler.
I’ll admit it. I started the year as a neurotic first-time parent stressing about how this new environment would impact my kid. But I’d like to think I’m also graduating kindergarten with gold stars, calmer and more capable to handle the school years ahead. Not sure if my neuroticism is totally cured … some of that just comes with my personality … and I’d like to think because I care so much, but thanks to the key individuals below, I’m gaining confidence in my parenthood decisions too.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank my child’s patient teacher, who answered all of my questions, was always open to an extra parent-teacher conference and treated my son with respect and kindness.
I’d like to thank some of the new kindergarten parents I got to know over the past few months. As a full-time working mom, I need those extra eyes and ears to learn about what is going on in the classroom and how my kid behaves when he is away from me. Their reassurance and feedback were invaluable, and I look forward to getting to know these moms and dads more as our kids grow older together.
I’d like to thank the many parents who volunteered in so many countless ways to make the kindergarten experience better for all of our kids. Our room mom – a former teacher – was an amazing resource to the teacher and could help the kids in ways many other volunteers could not. There were also many parents who brought so much creativity to the classroom – a challenge in this budget-depressed economy. As for me, I will always struggle with finding the right balance of missing work and volunteering. Hopefully I was there when it mattered most to my son. And when I wasn’t physically present, I hope my supply and monetary contributions helped in some small way.
I’d finally like to thank my son. I think going into this school year I didn’t give him enough credit. I can already tell he has amazing gifts (I know I’m biased since I am his mom), but I realized even more this year that he his going to do wonderful in school. He is a hard-worker, inquisitive, respectful of his teacher and peers and desires to do the right thing. If he can continue to develop these traits, he will without a doubt create his own success.
I know there will be countless other moments when I’ll worry about his new stages in school and life. After all, he is my first. Hopefully my other two kids will benefit with a calmer mom when they go through these different milestone moments. But for me, kindergarten was a big deal. I realized my son is growing up, and he is going to be just fine.