Welcome to Daniel Bagley!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The First Days - in the words of a veteran Bagley Parent

Welcome to the Daniel Bagley Community!

Starting K is a BIG deal – for you and your new student! Here are some tips for making this transition.

First of all, DBE is a great place where your child will be safe and cared for. In the first week, the school can feel big, confusing, and overwhelming, but it won’t take long to become your community. We have had a wonderful experience at DBE, but looking back to 7 years ago when our older child started, I remember that I was initially concerned. He came home talking a lot about the rules, the rules, the rules and I worried that this K thing was too institutional. His comments were partially a reflection of his developmental stage that was very justice, fairness,and rule-oriented. However, it was also because in those first few days with many students who were all new at the same time, it is important to get rules and routines established. Quickly, though, I knew that Bagley was a warm, comfortable, and welcoming place -- and you will, too.

Before the big day, ask your child if they are nervous about starting K and see if they will tell you some specifics. If they are nervous about finding the bathroom or how the lunchroom works, then make those things a priority to find out about on 9/3 at the New Student Event. If your child has lots of sadness separating from you on the first few days, ask his/her teacher if there is a K or 1stgrade buddy who can help your child.

Decide whether it is helpful to you and your child to get to school on the first day a little earlier or not (of course, be on time). Some kids feel better going to the playground and playing for a while before meeting their class and teacher on the front lawn. Some students find the playground crowded and an overwhelming way to start their first day.

After seeing your child off, bring your own wistfulness about your growing child to the first day of school welcome coffee where there is plenty of tissue and, of course, coffee. You can commiserate with other parents and get answers to any questions you have. Following that is the flag raising ceremony outside the school. All of the students attend and parent can, also. With my DBE grad and current 3rd grader, I ducked behind others so I could check out my child’s state, butthey couldn’t see me and we didn’t have to go through saying goodbye again.

We had the experience and heard from other parents whose children came home from kindergarten over the first few weeks and maybe melted down or seemed to regress in their behavior. The thinking is that kindergartners are experiencing many new things and holding it together during school, but letting go once they get home. One of our children, who was previously not much a tantrum kid, had tantrums 3 times/week until Thanksgiving, when they simply stopped. If this doesn’t happen with your child, lucky you! If it does, just keep in touch with your child’s teacher to make sure things are going all right, focus on the basics (sleep, food – are they eating their lunch?), and hang in there. In terms of lunch, some kids are very focused on socializing, getting outside, or simply find the noisiness of the school cafeteria overwhelming. These kids may need to input some calories very quickly after school.

Along these lines, it was our experience that both of our children were really tired in the beginning of K. Our son, who graduated from DBE and is now starting middle school (gulp), had been in full time day care previously, so we didn’t expect him to be as exhausted as he was by elementary school. We actually started putting him to bed earlier than we had when he was in daycare, which was helpful, but an adjustment for our whole family.

In terms of the details, if you haven’t purchased school supplies yet, don’t stress! Most things are not necessary immediately. If asked to prioritize, I’d say make sure to have on the first day whatever is on the list as a communication folder between home and school. Also, in my experience, skip Target as they are so quickly depleted and try Fred Meyer or Office Max at this point. Paperwork: some has come home already and there’s more to come, but it’s not rocket science. Pull from the stack the ones that need to be filled out (many are simply for your reading pleasure). You can hand deliver them to the front office or send them with your child.

Finally, we found elementary school to be an adjustment in terms of the level of personal information we got about our child’s day. Our daycare gave us daily written reports and because parents picked up at different times, we could usually verbally check in with the teacher each day. Information doesn’t flow that way in elementary school. While your child’s teacher wants to be in touch with you, you have to find out what works for communication (and typically before and after school times are hard) and you have to seek some information directly from your child. Perhaps you have been blessed with a child who volunteers information or answers every question you ask about their day. If so, skip ahead. For the rest of us, sometimes some creativity is necessary. We played a game with our kids where they had to tell us three things about their day, one of which was untrue, and we had to try to guess which was untrue. This game generated conversations, though we eventually had to ban certain topics as one of the three (whether or not they were first in line at various points during the day, how many times so-and-so went the bathroom that day, etc.). We asked them social questions like who they sat by at lunch and who they played with at recess. When nothing else worked, we asked them if anyone was annoying or hilarious or ridiculous during their day.

Good luck with this transition and welcome to the Bagley community!

Elizabeth Gay,
parent veteran of a Bagley 3rd grader and graduate

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