Use your manners. Ask kindly. Share your toys. Stop trying to ride the baby. Don’t pick your nose. Put your dishes by the sink. Be nice to your sister. Sound it out. Try again.
Our children’s pre-schoolhood is scattered with discussions and commands of all kinds, all meant to ensure that we’re not raising brats. That our children are safe, independent, responsible, kind, smart, inclusive, confident and all the things. And I think it’s easy to just keep floating through life, correcting the wrongs and acknowledging the rights. However, I saw the beginning of kindergarten as an opportunity for intentional, deliberate conversation. To say the things we think about often as parents but easily forget to create the right time and place to share.
But what do you say to a five year old? I started where any good mom does—an online moms group. You know, the ones where moms go to judge each other? I also reached out to my sister, an elementary school teacher, to get perspective on things I haven’t thought about. Then, Donny and I sat down together and talked about what’s important to us as parents.
Her safety, her responsibility and how she treats others were the common themes.
The discussion points below might not be right for every child. Our daughter has been in full-time daycare/preschool her entire life. She’s a natural rule-follower, a quick learner and a social butterfly. In a careful attempt not to over-discuss, we narrowed our topics to the things that would be different from preschool and relevant to Brynlee specifically. Like the fact that she’d be riding a bus, that there would be a more diverse group of kids in her new school and that she will be held more responsible for her stuff and her actions than ever before.
I made the above awesome discussion guide to help us along. I really think my rudimentary art skills made it relatable ….or something like that.
Here were the key discussion points that we shared. We also intermixed some fun like Donny and I’s favorite memories from Kindergarten to keep it upbeat. But here goes it:
There are more people to listen to.
Mind your bus driver, your primary teacher, your special class teachers and all school staff.
Never, ever leave with someone you don’t know.
Even if they say they know you. Even if they say I sent them. Never leave school, or get off the bus with someone that isn’t mommy, daddy (or our other designated “OK” people).
You are in charge of everything with your name on it.
Keep track of your stuff. Put things back where they belong. If you leave something behind, you might not get it back.
You are the boss of your own body.
If anyone (kid or adult) touches you in a way that feels inappropriate, you tell us or another grown up. It doesn’t matter if its a hug, if you don’t like it, you say no. No one touches your butt or vagina, period. If they do, you tell us.
There will be lots of new kinds of kids.
The kindergarten world is vastly larger, and more diverse than the preschool world. There will be kids of all abilities and colors and likes and dislikes. Everyone deserves your kindness.
Everyone is good at different things.
You can’t be the best at everything and that’s ok. Be happy for people for the things they’re good at, and they’ll be happy for you for the things you’re good at.
Do you have any questions for us?
Luckily no, “Where do babies come from?” curveballs came flying out of her mouth.
Overall, it was a successful discussion and it felt good to say all the things out loud that I think so often get muffled in the chaos of life.
Originally featured on Finding My All, a blog about one mom on a forever journey to wholeness and happiness.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.