So, this year is my kid's first year of school. I'm not going to lie... while I was happy for her, I also cried like a baby because my little girl was growing up. I wasn't prepared, initially, for the massive changes I would see in my baby, who wasn't a baby any more.
She was over the moon to go to school, we had her outfit picked out weeks in advance, her shoes cleaned up, her hair cut perfectly the way she wanted, her bangs trimmed. Her earrings were cleaned and sparkly, and her smile was shining with delight. I couldn't be prouder of my little girl that day.
And then, after a few weeks... we noticed it. The changes. School had and still is changing her in many ways, and we're still getting used to the differences in our girl.
7 Little Miss Priss
I'm telling you, this kid has turned into a little Diva since she started school! "I can't wear that, mom! I have to wear blue because that's what my friends wear!!" From her clothes to her attitude in general, she's 4 going on 16. She's sassy, she's snarky, and she is in charge. Stomping her feet in annoyance, rolling her eyes, and loud dramatic sighs are the least of the things I've seen this kid do since she started going to school.
You see, though, this is actually pretty typical behavior for a kid coming home from school. Kids need time to unwind when they get home, just like adults who have a job. You know how after a long day, you want to sit back and just put your feet up and rest? Kids are literally the exact same. You'll see a better attitude if you give your kid time to relax. Don't immediately ask about their day, instead, wait and let them breathe a bit before asking how things went.
You just may see some improvement in their sass. If the attitude gets to be too much, there is nothing wrong with correcting your child, and asking that they apologize for the way they are behaving.
6 Bad Habits Are Tough to Break
Ever since school started, she has been bringing home some really poor behavior habits, and believe me we've been at our wits end as well. She's picking on her sister, she's playing at the dinner table, she's being rough and back talking. She wasn't doing this when she started school, so what gives??
Well, picking up poor behavior from others is typical. Kids are going into a whole new environment and learning new ways of behaving, including bad ways. While they're learning about making friends, they're also learning just how those friends choose to behave, and it's not all good.
The main thing to do is to make sure that their behavior is not because of an underlying issue, such as bullying, and then to sit them down and explain that this is unacceptable behavior. Personally, we have a treasure box reward system, and bad behavior at home and at school will negate the end of the night treasure box. It's worked. The behavior at school has minimized, and the home behavior took a turn up as well.
5 "That's Super Gross, Mom!"
This was the one I was really dreading. The words that can hurt the chef's feelings at dinner and make everyone eating frustrated... And she is so vocal about this now, it's crazy. She was never like this about her food choices before she started school... But the thing is, this is actually just roll over from age 3. If you had a picky eater at age 3, they may be picky at age 4... the difference is, it's not new, they've just found their voice to say that they don't like this stuff.
At school they have choices, and every choice is taken into consideration to foster their independence. Great for the kids, but they get way more vocal about their day to day choices as well, which can be more stressful to mom.
Just be patient, make sure that there's no underlying conditions (some disorders such as sensory processing disorder can cause kids to not be able to handle certain foods or textures), and figure out what works for your family. Around my house we don't make special meals for our kids, the only changes made are for our neuro-atypical toddler and her inability to eat certain textures. So, if it's on the menu, there's no substitutions.
But, the thing is, not all of the changes were bad. We had a lot of changes that I love to see every single day!
4 My Blossoming Little Flower
For my daughter, going to school was great! She came out of her shell naturally, and blossomed into a social butterfly that I knew all along she would be. She went from a semi-shy kid, to a kid who just loves to make friends. She has always wanted to play with everyone, but school was her catalyst to really make her able to make friends.
There are ways to help shy kids face their anxiety before starting school, for those who are scared. You can take away the unknowns, and talk to your little ones about what they will expect, talk to the teacher to let them know they're shy and may need encouraging, and even talking to your child after school about their day can help ease the anxiety of school.
Remember, the first days of school can be stressful, so some anxiety is typical and it may very well fade out on it's own, like my daughter's did. If it does not, then it may be time for a sit down with your child and their teacher to make sure that they are doing alright in school, and make sure they are not being bullied.
3 Hard Working Lil Miss
My kiddo has always been a quick learner, but school gave her the focus to be a truly hard worker and to want to do well. She loves to do her work, and do it right. I've seen it before while working in the early childhood setting, kids get to preschool, and suddenly, they have focus and they can do more than the parents ever thought they could. Studies show that this can actually be linked, not to school, but to you, mom!
Recent research shows that kids who have hard working parents, are much more successful and hard working than those who do not. Every day, we all work hard in some way, shape, or form, and they can see that. When you make sure the house is picked up for them? They see that, and they take that in. Had a long day working a 9-5? They see that too.
And often, they're proud of your achievements, and look up to you. You're their biggest role model! So, keep setting a good example, mom and dad. Believe me, they see more of it than you think they do, and they are appreciative.
2 "I Can Do It Myself!"
She has become an independent lady since starting school, far more than she was before! I love it, even when it tugs at my heartstrings to hear, "No, I don't need your help mama, I got it." My little girl is growing up, and she's becoming a kid that can depend on herself and doesn't need me for everything any more. School is a great place to foster independence and help kids bloom.
You see, in school, the teachers and staff do something differently than many of us parents, and sometimes we do it without realizing. See, they don't cater to our kids. The kids have to make their own friends, figure out their own way of doing things, and decide on their own how they will behave and act. They don't have someone simply scolding their behavior when it's unacceptable all the time, they have solid consequences to face with every action.
See, they aren't forced to apologize all the time if they say something hurtful to little Jake. They have to work out how to take care of their friendships themselves. If they're mean to their classmates, there will be consequences to that, because the kids won't want to play with them, and they'll have to learn that by being kind, the others may react more favorably and be kinder in turn.
1 My little Chameleon
One of the best things I've seen out of my child thanks to school, is her ability to adapt to change. She is able to change when needed more now than ever. Breaking our routine used to be chaos, but now? It's a walk in the park. She so happened to have missed a nap? That's ok too, we don't get too grumpy any more. Helping your little chameleon adjust to change in the environment doesn't have to be difficult!
One way to adjust to the biggest change of all at this stage, starting school (or even daycare for younger kiddos!), is to take your child on a tour of the location before the first day of school. Open house made my daughter more excited to start school and make new friends, and her nervousness went away.
She was able to meet her new caregivers, learn some of the rules, where her cubby would be, and even meet some of her classmates. It was one of the best things we did to ease her nerves. Another suggestion is to let your child pick out his or her own school supplies, such as a back pack or crayons.
Maybe even give them the money to pay for it themselves. My daughter got even more excited when she was able to get her own supplies, and joyfully handed over money to the cashier to buy her turtle back pack and her crayons. If they don't adjust well to change, it may be time to have a talk together to find out why they're not adjusting well to the school environment.
School can be scary for both mom and kid, but that's the thing, not all changes are bad, and most of the changes aren't out of the ordinary at all. Kids grow all the time, and this just happens to be a pretty important place where kids grow and develop into their future awesome selves. So nourish that change, parents.
Help mold them into the successful selves you know they can be. And never be scared to speak up if you feel something is wrong... remember, you are their biggest advocate. You have to be there when they need something, but you also have to let them spread their wings and soar.
What are some ways you saw your child change after starting school?