Kindergarten Kiddos: WHAT happened to my child?!
Written by: Heidi Hule
If you are a parent of a young child, around Kindergarten age, you may just be asking yourself this question daily right now. You drop your child off in the morning, bright-eyed and excited for school. But, when you go back to pick them up, they have morphed into some creature you don’t even recognize. They are tired, grumpy, difficult, and just generally unpleasant. If you’re thinking -- 'what am I doing wrong?!'... the answer is nothing!
Each new school year brings changes, and some of them bigger than others, like the transition from nap time to no more napping. This makes a huge difference for your child, even if they were never a big napper. All the more difficult if they were! This is an adjustment that will take some time, and lots of patience on your part. Some kids will fall asleep on the ride home, others will need their bedtimes moved up, sometimes by a lot. A Kindergarten-aged child still needs 10-12 hours of sleep. So without a nap, that means they need this amount at night, uninterrupted.
As your child gets older, school becomes more demanding as well. The expectations for sitting quietly and focusing on learning grow each year, and it takes time for them to adapt to this. The good news is, if they are acting out at home with you, it is likely because they have done a great job all day doing what was expected of them at school. Now, finally, they have some freedom with you -- a time to let loose, relax, and unwind from their day. Not unlike ourselves.
Try to imagine if you came home tired from a long day at work and were expected to have that same attention, patience and rigor at home. You would be grumpy too, I guarantee it! So my advice is to see how you can help your child transition into this new school year. Yes, even on those days when you feel like you could just turn the car around and drop them back off. Especially on those days. Figure out what works for your child -- is it a snack? Some down time in front of a favorite show? Some quiet time in their room or outside? Bath time and an early dinner?
I promise you that it does get better. This too shall pass. They will be back to their cheery and loving selves sooner than you think. But in the meantime, don’t forget to congratulate them on all the hard work they are doing that you never get to witness.
Heidi has been a Kindergarten teacher in the Northland for 10 years, since moving back to KC from France. She is a single mother of two daughters. One of her passions is writing, which she does every chance she gets. She has a parenting blog on her school’s website and a personal blog on Facebook. Another of her passions is helping others, and she hopes that her writing might provide insight, inspiration, or just food for thought.