When my nephew came home from his first day of kindergarten, his mother was excited to hear about his day. In the most dejected voice, Zach said, “It was awful. They didn’t even teach us how to read.”
I don’t remember much about my first day of kindergarten, but I do remember carrying my orange Holly Hobbie lunch box and posing for a “first day of school” photo before I headed to the bus stop.
I distinctly remember feeling very official. I had a great sense of hope and anticipation on the first day of school that carried me through college.
I mostly loved school, but for me, going back to school meant a brand new beginning and a chance to do things differently. I doubt that in kindergarten I had many regrets. But by first grade I treated the first day of school the way some people treat New Year’s Resolutions: This year I’m going to remember to read the cafeteria menu the night before and pack a lunch when they serve beef-a-roni (or barf-a-roni, as we came to call it).
By junior high I was showing a little more intellectual ambition: This year I’m not going to forget that I have homework until I’m sitting at the bus stop the next morning.
By high school: This year I’m going to go to bed early and try not to fall asleep during precalculus.
By college, the words had changed, but the intention was still the same: This semester I’m going to read every assignment the professor suggest from start to finish and not wait until the morning before class. (This resolution, I sadly must report, was never achieved. Not even close.)
Every child has great expectations and ambitions for what the year will bring, whether good or bad. Talk to your child and figure out what those expectations are. Really listen and find out if the expectations need a little management, as Zach’s obviously needed, or whether those expectations can be put into attainable goals that you can help your child achieve. Packing a lunch on the days they served beef-a-roni was an achievable goal. Learning to read in one day is not. (But cheers to Zach for having that kind of ambition!)
Fall is a great time to make some new (school) year’s resolutions for you and your kids. What will they be?