As older parents of a single child, my husband and I were very cautious, controlling, and protective of our little one. When you wait so long to finally have a child, you tend to hold a little too tight. As we approached the kindergarten milestone, the anxiety in our home rose exponentially. We had the common fears… How will he know what to do? Who will be his friends? Will he be able to keep up? Will his teacher understand him? Will she love, care for, and support him? He was a summer baby who would be turning five shortly before school started, so we debated whether or not he would be ready to attend. The decision seemed overwhelming, and under all these questions was a real concern that we did not have a good understanding of the long-term impact of this decision.
In this season, I remember long discussions with my circle of friends. We would compare notes, and everyone had a different checklist for “readiness” they were following. One had a list from the local school district, one had a list from a Google search, one had a list from a book she had recently read, and one had a list from her preschool. While all the lists were similar, they had enough differences to make me wonder if there really was a true test of readiness. Don’t laugh, but as a member of the corporate world at the time, I had created a “Readiness Spreadsheet” where I compiled all the lists and tracked my poor son’s readiness against that list. I kept looking for the formula, for the perfect analytical metric that would make our decision for us.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
I have found throughout my life that at times of anxiety and indecision, God always brings someone into my life to mentor me, to help show me the way. I was very fortunate to have such a friend in my life who led me to open my eyes to my fear and pointed me to Christ, who had this under control. She patiently reminded me to lay my worries for my son at His table. This weekend, we at Stonebriar are fortunate to have a similar mentor willing to share her knowledge and experience. Kelley Wilkinson, our Director of Stonebriar Preschool Pals, will lead our Preparation for Kindergarten class this Sunday, January 22. Kelley will share what she has learned from working for years with schools, parents, and practitioners, covering the topics below.
- We, as parents, tend to compare our children to others in our neighborhoods, play groups, church groups, and even between children in our family. While we agree that comparison can cause stress for parents, it can also cause stress in our children. This stress can have a negative effect on a child’s self-esteem. Comparing should not be the main factor used in deciding if your child is ready to start school or not.
- While you are making the decision to send your child or not, remember that, in a way, you—the parent—are also preparing yourself for kindergarten. You must learn to let your children grow up and do for themselves, and be happy with other adults teaching them.
- There are very specific strategies for you and your child to practice that foster independence, self-control, self-help, academic growth, and social-emotional skills that are necessary for success in kindergarten. These strategies can and should be started at a very early age, but it is never too late to begin using them in your daily routine.
Kelley reminds us that the key to your children’s success in kindergarten and beyond is to develop in them a lifelong love of learning. Your children will get that love from you if you allow them to practice strategies themselves and give them time to be successful in completing a task. Register to join us this weekend so you can hear her strategies for preparing yourself and your children for their next stage of growth.
Christine Clark is the Ministry Coordinator for the Family and Children’s Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. She has a passion for supporting parents and helping them gain confidence and tools to be spiritual leaders in their homes. She is blessed to be the mom of a middle school son and the wife of her college sweetheart for more than 20 years. She is also an avid sports fan who loves all things football, especially in the fall in Texas.