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9 Tips to Help Working Moms to Manage the Kindergarten Culture
Kindergarten – the start of your family’s school years – brings a lot of changes that most moms don’t anticipate. All parents have to make adjustments to this new way of life, but working moms need an extra set of strategies to help make this transition easier on the entire family.
Here are some tips to help working moms adjust to kindergarten life.
1. Be Social
Many parents don’t think about the fact that there will be an entirely new community of people to get to know once their child begins kindergarten. Suddenly, parents are thrust into a new group of parents and kids that they’re going to have to get to know. It’s important to invest some time and energy early on into learning the names of the kids in your child’s class, the names of the parents and remembering which kid belongs to which parent.
A lot of the initial “get to know you” time in Kindergarten happens at school pick up when parents are waiting for their kids. Working parents don’t have that opportunity, so it’s important to find other ways to socialize with this new community. Attend evening and weekend functions as much as you can. When you do attend these events, make the most of them by chatting with as many parents as you can. Go to happy hours with the other moms. Attend the school carnival. Do what you can when you can do it.
2. Find a Mentor
Find a mom who has a kindergartener and an older kid at school, and consider her your go-to person. Ask her questions about procedures, events or navigating the book fair, for example. Chances are, she’ll be happy to help you out. You might even make a new friend!
Working moms don’t have as many opportunities to volunteer during the school day, but try to find time to do something during the school year. One of the best volunteer opportunities for any parent, especially those with limited availability during the day, is to help out in the classroom for a couple of hours. This has lots of benefits: you can see the classroom activities first-hand, you interact with the students and you can get to know the teacher a bit better. Doing this early on in the year can go a long way in better understanding what’s happening at school. If you’re like me, and it’s hard to leave your job during school hours, consider volunteering for night activities like school carnivals or fundraisers.
4. Enroll Your Child in Sports
Being part of a team is beneficial to young children in many ways, but sports have a lot of benefits for new Kindergarten parents as well. Lots of information is exchanged and friendships are formed on the sidelines during practice or games. And, sports in kindergarten are low-stress (in theory!), so there is usually lots of time to chat. While practices may not be easy to attend for working parents, games typically happen later in the day during the week or on the weekend.
5. Read the Information The School Sends Home
For parents with limited face time with other parents or at the school, staying on top of school communications is key. Be sure to read through packets of information, newsletters, teachers’ emails and more in order to know what’s going on. It’s easy to fall behind on school communication so keeping up with it at least a few times a week is in your best interest.
6. Create a Low-Stress Morning Routine
One of the best things any parent, especially a working parent, can do is establish a low-stress morning routine. What this means might be different for each family but some things that can make for an easier morning include: getting up earlier, packing lunches the night before, laying out clothes in advance, teaching kids to get their own breakfast or establishing an easy getting dressed routine.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Once you’re in the swing of things and have met some other parents, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Most parents are happy to help shuttle kids to practices or offer play dates after school when schedules get sticky. Return the favor and even pay it forward. When you have an opportunity to help out another parent, do it. After all, we’re all in this together!
8. Learn About the School Day
We all want to know how our kids’ days went. But too often, by the time a working mom gets home from the office, a few hours have passed since our kids got out of school and the excitement of the day might be faded. Talk with the teacher or principal and find out what your child’s class does all day. Learn about her schedule, her special classes on certain days of the week or other details your child might not pass along. Then, ask your student about specific aspects of her day. This will help jog her memory about the day and create prompts for more in-depth school-related conversations.
9. Get Rid of Guilt
It’s hard not to feel pangs of guilt when other parents seem to be more involved in their kindergartener’s school lives than you are. Stop it. Working parents bring unique benefits to their families that others can’t. Do your best, express interest and continue being there for your child. You’re doing just fine!
The most important thing you can do is make sure your Kindergartener knows you care, are interested and are ready to support him in this new phase of his life and beyond. Welcome to Kindergarten, mama!
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Add your tips in the comments. What have you done to make your transition as a kindergartener’s parent easier?
Here are some other tips to help you as your child enters school, whether or not you work outside the home!