It's here! It's finally here! Just a few years ago you were carrying your little nugget around in a baby carrier, and now she's growing up and away from you into kindergarten. While it can be a little sad and very exciting, it's easy to get carried away with the logistics of registering her for school and all the prep required to get her there. But before you snap that milestone first-day-of-big-kid-school photo, there are some questions you should ask your child's kindergarten teacher.
Kindergarteners undoubtedly have to make a huge adjustment from preschool, ranging from the number of students per classroom and circulating through an intimidating campus to electives and the cafeteria (eek!). While she's surely met the academic standards required for enrollment, it's important for parents to figure out how exactly kindergarten has changed since they were toddling off with their first big-kid lunch box. It's no longer a grade reserved for simply learning how to function in a classroom and collaborate with peers, because in this age of standardized testing, teachers hit the ground running to accumulate reading, writing, and math skills. It's often referred to as "the new first grade," so be armed with these questions to help your little one thrive in this very important first year of their academic career.
1Is There A Nap Time?
Eh, the answer will most likely be no. While some school districts still recognize the importance of giving little guys a quick snooze to complete their day, nap time for kindergartners will soon be a thing of the past. According to a 2000 New York Times article, they were on their way out way back then. But you never know, perhaps your child's teacher has substituted a restful, post-recess story time to help kids regroup. Most children have outgrown the need for a midday slumber anyway and have replaced it with what we now call the witching hour.
2How Much Homework Is There?
Strap in, because this is where the homework wars start. After-school assignments for kindergartners is a very fraught topic, according to The Washington Post, and the amount can vary from none at all to way too much, so it's very important to know what your child — but ultimately you — are responsible for. It really stinks, so here's hoping you have a teacher who eases you into it.
3How Do You Discipline Your Child?
Kindergarten teachers are pretty much all warm and fuzzy types who are unlikely to use punitive measures against their newbie students, but it's good to have an idea about how they will manage 30 energetic 5-year-olds in tight quarters. By knowing the rules and rewards your child can expect, you'll know the teacher's expectations for your student and whether she can meet them. Who knows, you might learn something from them.
4What Do You Need From Me?
Whether it's occasional volunteering in the classroom, regular engagement through parent-teacher meetings, or just making sure your child is fed, rested, and ready for the day, your teacher wants you to be their partner in educating your child, according to Scholastic Parents. There's a ton you can do for your kid to ensure a successful kindergarten year, and all you have to do is ask.
5How Does Dismissal Work?
The last thing you want is to collect your teary child after a confusing dismissal, so it is very important that your child's teacher knows how they're getting home so they can provide you with clear instructions. Let's not traumatize the poor dears on the first day.
6How Should We Communicate With You?
Depending on how informal their children's preschools were, this can be an adjustment for some parents. Elementary teacher's schedules are very structured and it's unlikely you'll get a response during the school day. But they would love to hear from you. Find out a good time to contact them and whether they prefer email, text, or phone calls.
7What Do Parents Do That Make Your Job Difficult?
That's a loaded one, but you have a vested interest in not being "that parent" so it's a question worth asking. The answer might surprise you because each school and each classroom is unique, so get a feel for how your child's classroom best functions so you can get to work or get out of the way.