The kindergarten field journal

If someone in your home is starting school this fall, worry not

Miles Willing’s first day of junior kindergarten in Sept. 2022, and his last day of JK in June 2023. Photo Courtesy Jon Willing

My gosh, the sand.

It will be everywhere.

And just when you think every clump has been shaken out of your kid’s sneakers, an avalanche of tiny grains spills from underneath a footbed as you bring the shoes inside.

If you’re a parent with a child who’s starting junior kindergarten this fall, you will be discussing with other parents the incredible, unexpected volume of take-home sand. Those particulars likely won’t make it into your welcome-to-school emails as you transition into a JK family.

We are now a senior kindergarten family after our son Miles completed a fantastic first year of school.

Maybe like you, we spent the weeks before the start of JK collecting as much intel as possible from families about what to expect in the first year of school. Now with a year under our belts, my wife Nicole and I spitballed some extra info that probably won’t be found in the welcome packages.

Give yourself a break when it comes to making lunches For many JK families, it will be the first time having to pack a lunch for your child. It might take days or weeks to find the magic mix of lunch items. Stress might build if your child isn’t eating much from their lunchbox. Be patient. Miles needed a week or two before he could get comfortable at JK, and prior to that, lunches came home hardly eaten. Your child might need some time, too. If you have the means, sign up for special lunches, like pizza days, if only to take a little heat off your daily lunch prep.

Volunteer at your school if you can That’s not to say you need to run for parent council executive, although I’m sure the council would love to have you. Volunteering in your child’s school is a good way to meet other parents and school staff, but the biggest perk is getting a window into your child’s life outside of your home. It’s wonderful to observe your child’s interactions with peers and watch them develop their little social network.

Consider after-school care away from your home school This might have been the main stressor for our family before JK started. We worried about not securing a spot in the after-school care program at Miles’s school. We ended up landing a spot at an after-school care program at a city community centre just under a kilometre from school, which means Miles and other students walk with wonderful program counsellors to the centre after each school day in all kinds of weather. The care away from school has added a change of scenery to Miles’s day and has allowed him to meet kids from other schools in the neighbourhood.

Start planning for holidays and PA/PD days now Do it for the entire school-year calendar. Those days can creep up on your family and you don’t want to be scrambling for care or day camps if you can’t stay home. And while you’re at it, start thinking about your care and camp strategy for next summer.

I hope that helps.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some sand I need to vacuum out of a rain boot.