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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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The Kindergarten Transition: How Our Day Went

Written by Kim Quinlan

It was the worst case scenario. This morning was the nightmare that I had been dreading for the last four years. I dropped my son off for his first day of JK and he completely lost it. The heads of 50 children and 100 adults were turned in our direction as he screamed and cried almost uncontrollably.


I wanted to pick him up, wipe his tears, and carry him home with me. Instead I held his hand and walked him to the door and told him I loved him as the teacher pried his hands off of my arm. She shut the door and as I walked down the street I could still hear his screams through the open window of the classroom.

I was distracted for the rest of the day. I am pretty sure I dropped off and picked up my second child at preschool, got groceries, and cared for my 3 month old, but I can’t actually remember any of that. I was racking my brain trying to write the speech I was going to give my oldest when I picked him up that afternoon. What were the perfect words I would say to my attentively listening child that would change his outlook on education and empower him to succeed in junior kindergarten and in life?

Pick up time finally arrived and my son walked calmly out of his classroom. I was still deliberating about what to say to him as I walked home, pushing a stroller, chasing a two year old, and holding the hand of my baby-turned-big-boy.

I thought, How will I help him feel comfortable to be away from me all day and be with a stranger?

He said, “I missed you today mom but my teacher is really nice and I like her.”

I thought, I need to convince him that he should talk to the other kids rather than cry alone.

He said, “I didn’t make any friends today because I was too sad but I will try to play with someone tomorrow.”

I thought, I need to make sure he’s not feeling abandoned by me.

He said, “I kept remembering all day that you love me even when I’m sad.”

The speech he gave me on the way home was better than any I could have prepared. I have been given an introspective little guy who is able to articulate how he feels pretty well. I’m very thankful for that, but also thankful for the lessons of the day. We can’t parent our kids in one day. It takes a lifetime to teach them what we want them to know. Even in the times when our kids’ behaviour doesn’t look the way we hoped it would, they still know that we love them and they are still absorbing some of what we try to teach them.

When I tucked him into bed tonight he said that he loves school. I know he may still cry tomorrow, but I think we can get through another day.

Do you have a kid starting school this week? How did they do? How did you do?

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.