THE BLOG
08/28/2014 02:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Starting School for Our Youngest Students

September is the month of mixed emotions. All of us can remember the feelings we experienced at the start of a school year. There was always the excitement about fresh school supplies, new clothes, and seeing old friends.

Mixed with that, however, was the worry about whether the new teacher would be "nice" or if we would have friends with whom we could play and eat lunch. And there was also the sadness about leaving the carefree summer days behind and, in our younger days, about leaving our parents, siblings, and familiar surroundings.

2014-08-27-Firstdayofschool.jpg

Cartoon by Huffington Post blogger Marcia Liss

Our youngest students, preschool and early elementary age, and their parents are grappling with so many feelings. For these kids, "school" is both alluring and mysterious. They are not so sure what to expect and some will not want to let their adults go without some tears. Others may seem to start out like model students, only to stage a protest in October once they grasp what this "school thing" is all about.
 
The adults in their lives may fare no better. Once the initial excitement wears off, many parents experience separating from their children as a loss. They may worry about how their child is managing without their guidance or if their child is behaving appropriately or if their child is happy.
 
Teachers also contribute their feelings to this mix. They have spent so much time preparing their classrooms and lessons, and they have so many exciting plans for the school year. They all know, despite the pressures of standards and testing, that the real curriculum for the start of school is to make children comfortable. Often the lesson plan has to be tossed aside so educators can respond to the needs of the children and their families. Teachers often joke that they wish it were mid-October.
 
Starting school is much like a game of Chutes and Ladders, with the children, families, teachers, and administrators as the game pieces. All players are trying to reach that elusive date when things have fallen into place. Like Chutes and Ladders, starting school is an "exciting up and down game for little people" in which the players try to land on ladders to race ahead but sometimes land on the chutes that send them back for a bit.
 
Being near the start of this game, perhaps due to sliding down a chute or two, can feel discouraging at times. But unlike Chutes and Ladders, in school there should be no reward for being the first to finish adjusting. Everyone will eventually master the game at his or her own pace.

The old saying, It takes a village to raise a child, certainly applies at this time of year. Parents/guardians, teachers, and administrators have to become a team, working together toward one important common goal -- getting the children to feel happy and secure at school. It takes a bit of faith in the children and a lot of trust between the adults. And it helps if all of the stakeholders understand each other's feelings:

A Child's September Blues
 
Please don't rush me...
I'm just a little guy
And this is just the beginning of school.
 
I'm trying to fit into the schedule,
But the routine all feels so new to me.
I'm sure I'll like my teacher soon,
But some days, it may be hard to leave you.
 
I don't know what all of the transitions are,
So I may get scared when everything changes.
And it's hard to be with so many little kids,
So I may not make friends right away
 
Saying goodbye isn't easy.
But please let me try.
I really need the practice,
Just be patient if I cry.
 
Thank you for giving me this chance to grow up,
I'm sure this will be a great place,
With teachers planning fun things for me to do,
And me being so excited about learning so much.
 
So please don't rush me...
I'm trying my best to fit in.
But right now I just need a little time, a lot of love,
And for you to believe in me.

A Parent's September Blues
 
Please don't rush me...
This is my little guy
And it's just the beginning of school.
 
I'm trying to follow the start-up plan,
But sometimes it's hard for me.
I'm sure I'll trust the teacher soon,
But right now, it can be sad to leave my child.
 
I don't how she's doing,
So I may seem a little nervous.
Is she behaving appropriately?
Is she happy? Will she cry?
 
It's so hard to let go
And watch my baby grow up.
But I know I have to do it.
And my child will feel so proud of "making it."
 
So please don't judge me...
I'm trying to do what's best for my child.
But I still need some empathy and support,
And for you to believe in me.

A Teacher's September Blues
 
Please be patient with me...
There are so many children to know
And this is just the beginning of school.
 
I'm trying to follow my lesson plan,
But it's hard because the children are so new.
I'm sure they'll trust me soon,
But right now, it's hard for some of them to feel okay.
 
I don't how I'm doing,
So I may seem a little nervous.
Do these children like me?
Will I be able to meet each child's needs?

Will the parents come to trust me?
Can we truly work as partners?
Will my hopes and dreams for this school year
Become a reality for my class?
 
So please don't judge me yet...
I want to do what's best for your child.
But I need your empathy and support,
And for you to believe in me.
 
An Administrator's September Blues
 
Please be patient with me...
There are so many children and families to meet
And this is just the beginning of school.
 
I'm trying to learn everyone's name,
But it's hard because there are so many.
I'm sure I'll get there one day,
But right now, it's a challenge to keep the ship afloat.
 
So many forms to check in...
So many things to do and get for the staff...
So many phone calls and emails to return...
And did anyone remember the coffee cake?
 
Will the parents and staff come to trust me?
Can we truly work as partners?
Will my hopes and dreams for this school year
Become a reality for children, parents, and teachers?
 
So please don't judge me yet...
I want to make everyone feel welcome and happy,
But I need your empathy and support,
And for you to believe in me.
  

Have a wonderful school year!

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