Words of Wisdom: The first day of kindergarten

A big day is coming up next week: the first day of kindergarten. It’s exciting for the kids (hopefully) and bittersweet for their mamas. To help with the transition, we gathered some advice and first-day pictures from a few Northwest Arkansas mothers who have been there, done that, and cried all over the t-shirt.

Enjoy the comments below and know that we who have gone before you wish you good luck on the first day.


Kindergarten …. enjoy this year to the fullest! It will be one of the best years you will have with your child. Try to be involved as much as possible. You will love walking into the classroom and having each child know who you are. My kids would light up! My kids did great the first day. They were happy I walked them in, but that soon changed after that. One thing I recommend is taking their picture on the first day and last day of school. You will be amazed at the change! : (

~Brenda L. Kingston

817kate-amy-james.jpgWhen we got to kindergarten on that first morning, all of the moms were milling around the classroom with our cameras and big smiles, trying to hide our disbelief and sadness that our babies were off to school.

I felt like hugging my daughter a thousand times or maybe just pulling up a chair to stay for the day because I couldn’t bear to leave! But I had a revelation when I saw a mom (not from our class) in the hall loudly sobbing and hugging her son: being sad and telling my sweet girl how much I’ll miss her was not going to make her less nervous about the first day of school, and she needed to have confidence that this whole school-thing was going to be great.

So I smiled a little bigger, told her I loved her, gave her one last squeeze, walked out the door, and left her in the hands of her new teacher. My daughter had a wonderful first day and, subsequently, a fantastic year in kindergarten. And I did my sobbing in the car.

~Amy K. James

Six years later I still catch my breath when I look at this picture:


I am struck by how small she looks compared to everything around her…the tall flagpole, the large school, the wide, empty sidewalk. Too small, not ready to be going to school yet.

But she was ready … I had helped her prepare without even thinking about it. You have, too, mama. Every time you let your child do a task “all by themselves” – whether it’s getting their crayons and paper to do an art project or putting their things away when they’re finished with them. All the tasks that you teach them help them become more self-reliant and build their self-confidence. An added bonus…you get a little break!

SANITY SAVER! A week or two before school starts, start “practicing” what the mornings will be like once the big day arrives. Get your child an alarm clock and set it for the time they’ll need to wake up on school days, and have them get up at that time during the week. Go through all the motions – getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, getting their lunch and backpack – do the whole routine. You’ll find that by the time the first day actually arrives, you’ll have the kinks worked out of the routine and getting out the door on time will go a lot more smoothly.

LET THEM EAT…er, MAKE…LUNCH! Worried that your child won’t eat the lunch that you pack for them? Then let them pack their own. Lay the ground rules ahead of time so they know what is appropriate for lunch and what isn’t, and help them the first few times. The ground rules in our house are that my girls’ lunches must include four items: 1) some type of sandwich or protein; 2) fruit; 3) chips or other “side”; and 4) a dessert. It only took a few days for them to get the hang of it and now they don’t think twice about making their lunch. In fact, they look forward to it because it will have exactly what they want to eat! Another tip that will make a huge difference – have your child make their lunch the night before. That way it’s ready to go when you’re rushing out the door…just don’t forget it!


ANNUAL PHOTO: On the first day of school every year, we take a photo of our girls by their school’s sign. Each time, my girls trudge over to the sign and make all sorts of faces before they’ll give me a smile. While they act like they don’t want to pose for the picture, every year they can’t wait to compare the new picture to those from previous years. It’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown and changed in such a short time…and it’s neat to listen to what they notice is different about themselves, too.

~Rose Corscadden