I think starting Kindergarten is hard for any parent; but I have found it especially hard as a mom with a child who has over excitabilities. There was no doubt in my mind that my son was ready for the academic aspects of Kindergarten. But what to do with those OE’s. Do you tell the teacher? Do you tell anyone or do you let life happen as it may, and divulge after.
This summer prepared us for the transition into the world of formal schooling. We sent out oldest to Camp Invention through the recommendation of our school’s gifted coordinator. The silly new mommy in me thought this week-long camp (full day) would give me a nice time to catch up on the household items always put to the side (never mind the benefits for my little man). Well my bubble got popped about hour 2 into the first day. The phone call… my son was workin’ it: didn’t feel well; missed me; cried, etc. So I spent pretty much the whole 1st day with him (along with my un-napped 2-year-old and my dear friend). Day 2 I compromised and meet him for lunch, etc. My son was present when the director of the camp called me and told me my sons list of ailments. She then suggested that he might just have a nervous tummy (as perfectionist often do). He now uses that phrase when he is trying to maneuver himself out of new situations ” you know Mrs. H told me I have a nervous tummy.” Clever kid!!
That experience – hard for us both for different reasons – actually made the transition into kindergarten much easier. The first week of kindergarten I have found both hysterical and stressful all at the same time.
Knowing the experience we had over the summer and that my son has OE’s I did all I could as a parent and early childhood professional to help my child transition into his new setting : picture of the teacher ahead; color of village; set up play dates with other children listed in his class. I was prepared and so was he….until the school changed his room assignment 3 TIMES (all within 2 weeks of school starting). After several phone calls and my wanting to bulldoze the principal and hearing all the same crap I dish out “children are resilient, etc.” – Yes most children are very resilient (and it is often the parents who are not) but my son is not most kids he has OE’s – emotional OE’s. We got through that.
About day 2 my son cam home (loving his teacher) and saying “she did the cutest thing….FOR THE KIDS THAT DIDN’T KNOW THEIR NUMBERS.” I thought a minute about his sentence before asking the next question (The “kids” that didn’t know their numbers – he was excluding himself from that group on day 2). He explained how she had them sing a song to remember how to draw the number 5. I asked what he did during that time: he said he drew four 5′s and then figured out that four 5′s would equal 20 if you added them all up. So do you share that with teacher after day 2?
Day 4 the gifted coordinator emailed me to say she popped in to meet TJ – good sign.
I have spent countless hours in my sons early childhood experience both as mom and as his teacher intervening and preventing some emotional meltdowns from OE’s through my controlling the situation or my talking him through his own control. I can’t do that at school now. I am not there to see that the frustration is due to perfectionism and talk him through that. I am not there when someone makes fun of him for knowing the answers most of the time to let him know it’s OK to be smart and be proud of that (yes that has happened already too). Or to tell him to let others answer the question even when he knows the answer 1st (this one has been hard; but we talk about it at home).
We all do it… we let go little by little…allowing them the spread their wings and hopefully use the tools we have instilled (both coping and other) to go to school. I just didn’ think this would be so hard on me!