“Modern Kindergarten” is a tongue-in-cheek series based on my experiences as a new Kindergarten Mom.

We don't need kindergarten orientation!   We're learning as we go!

We don’t need kindergarten orientation! We’re learning as we go!

Tomorrow night is my daughter’s kindergarten “Open House”.  This is also known to some as “Orientation” or “Meet the Teacher Night”.  This is a night where the parents and the child go visit the school, drop off school supplies, meet the teacher, be shown around the school, get to see the child’s desk, hear every little detail about what your child will do every minute of the day, etc. etc. etc.

At first I thought “Wow, that’s kind of a neat idea!”  But then I started to hear so many people either a) worrying about when orientation will be; b) annoyed at the time the orientation is scheduled; c) upset because the orientation is happening after school starts; or d) frustrated because orientation didn’t answer all their questions.  Not only does it turn out that this is expected of the schools, it is nearly traumatic if it doesn’t happen at the right time.

It is C, and the comments that that spawn off the idea of C, that I want to dissect a bit and maybe try to understand.

  • “Kindergarten is overwhelming enough without a walk-through so the kids know what to expect!”
  • “It’s a stressful time for the kids.”
  • “It’s important that my son/daughter meets his/her teacher ahead of time.”

Let’s break this down.  First:  Kindergarten is overwhelming enough…

Wait…we’re talking about kindergarten, right?  Last I checked, kindergarten is where 5-year-olds gather and learn to read, write, and count.  We aren’t suddenly just tossing them out on the street to find their own dinner, are we?  We’re not handing them a rusty pocketknife and shoving them out the door to meet the wolves.  It’s kindergarten, folks.  Kindergarten.


It’s a stressful time for the kids.

Is it?  Is it?  From everything I hear, kindergarten is not a stressful time for the kids.  My daughter can’t wait to start kindergarten.  My nephew loved it last year.  No, kindergarten is a stressful time for the parents, which leads me into…

“It’s important that my son/daughter meets his/her teacher ahead of time.”  

Okay, sure.  Does little Suzie really need to meet her teacher ahead of time?  Or does little Suzie’s mother need to meet the teacher ahead of time?  Does little Suzie’s mother need to make sure that the evil tyrant kindergarten teacher will be kind and attentive enough to all Suzie’s special-snowflake needs?

(Note:  I don’t mean “special needs” in the sense that Suzie has actual, documented needs; I mean the needs like “It’s important that you never speak sternly to Suzie, no matter what.  We have taught her to question everything and never accept direction without making the personal choice to do so.)

As a mother, I understand the urge to shelter our children from anything potentially distressing.  But is kindergarten really such a traumatizing event that we need to hand-hold and baby our kids through it?  I would venture to guess that, with a few exceptions, most kindergarteners are thrilled to start their new class, are annoyed by mom hanging around with her Kleenex and camera, and come home at night exhausted but not remotely scarred for life.

These deep-seeded fears of the unknown, of not knowing the teacher or the exact schedule — these fears are ADULT fears.  These are the fears of the parent, not of the child.  Kids are meant to be flexible; they need to learn to just roll with things sometimes and not always have everything laid out in front of them.  And they wilroll with it…because they’re kids…and kids do not have adult fears.

Let’s rename it to “Relieve the Parents’ Anxieties Night”.

Relax everyone!  Kindergarten is fun!

Author’s note:   I do realize that there are children that have real special needs, social anxiety issues, and other real conditions that would make starting school a more complicated event.
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