Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pre-Schooler Etiquette...Help????

Ok, so The Dictator is starting pre-school in September.

And I'm freaking out.

First off, I had to *ask* when school starts. I know. I know. But, I've been out of school a very long time and I seriously couldn't remember if students start the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day.

But what are the rules? I have to go to Toronto the beginning of September for work (I got my first professional blogging job. More on that later...) but there was no way I was missing The Dictator's first day of school. No way. Nu-huh.

I mean, she needs her mother there, right? Rather, I think the truth is, I need to be there. No matter what the job was, there was no way I was missing her first day of school.

So what exactly happens from all you mothers who've been there, done that?

You take your child (who is still, in your eyes, a baby!) and you walk with her into the classroom and then what?

Do you introduce yourself to the teacher? Do you let it be known what kind of mother you will be? (Do you stick around and spy?) Do you introduce yourself to other parents and immediately start setting up playdates?

And how long are you supposed to stay for? Until your child is settled? Or are you booted out? Does the teacher boot you out? Do you stick around, waiting outside?

What? What? What?

What if The Dictator is terrified and starts to cry? Is the first day too soon to yank your child out of school?

What should she wear? Do I have to pack extra clothes in case she has an "accident?" Do I need to pack lunch if it's only half days?

And should I be preparing her for "school?" Should I be explaining that it's just like camp?

I'm terrified. I have the first day jitters. I hate it.


Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I haven't started pre-school for Matt, but if it's anything like the first day of toddler daycare ... Brutal!
I cried - everyone told me to say goodbye clamly, don't show emotion and then walk away. As if. I was a mess. If it helps, they are totally fine after a little while. The teachers know how to deal with the tears.
Oh - and yes on the extra clothes.
And take lots of pictures. And as for the parent thing ...
Seriously - parents gossip. Beware!!!

3:03 PM

Blogger chichimama said...

Extra clothes, check. They should tell you exactally how long to stay. At my daughter's school they don't even let us intto the classroom. At my son's we come in, help him find his cubby, etc, etc, then they nicely but firmly boot us out.

Most pre-schools provide a snack. I would assume that a half-day program does not invole lunch, but call to check if you don't get a letter detailing it all in a few days.

Oh, and there is almost always a transition period, when the kids don't actually stay the full time. So they might do an hour the first day, and hour and a half the second, etc.

Good luck! I have to say, I didn't cry with either kid. But I'm not really a bawler...

3:33 PM

Blogger Amanda said...

I cannot give you advice from the parent's perspective, because I haven't been there and done that YET, but I can talk about it from a Kindergarten teacher's perspective! Make sure to look for my article on this exact topic on starting September. Long and short of my advice: Do prepare her! She needs to know what to expect. Your feelings are completely normal--tears, fears and all! Lingering around, in my opinion, is harder on you and your child. You need her to feel like you are confident--so get ready to become the best actor you can be. Make sure you leave good and accurate contact info with the teacher in case he/she needs to reach you--that way you can be confident you will be called if need be. Follow the teacher's lead--hopefully they will be organized and most of your questions about etiquette will be laid out for you. If not, make your own judgement call. Just know that the longer you stay, the harder it may be to separate! I have more thoughts, but don't want this to become a novel! Email me if you
Good luck--both of you will be just fine!

5:13 PM

Blogger George said...

Rebecca ... it has been about 8 years since I had to do that so I cannot remember any details. My only advice is to slyly check out what the other moms AND dads are doing and follow their lead ... if they hang around, you do too ... you'll look like you've done this for umpteen children ... I know, that didn't sound quite right but you know what I mean.

6:12 PM

Blogger Ali said...

at my kids' school, they have an orientation day for the kids. parents come for about an hour and meet the teachers and the other parents. they gave us a list of all the things we needed (a shoebox with an extra change of clothing, smock etc.).

does her school not have something like this? you might want to check. it would probably calm most of your nerves about preschool.

also, i was terrified to send my baby to school. and, in the end, she was so happy to go, she didn't even cry. at all. which made me so happy. and then made me a little sad. :)

5:34 AM

Anonymous Katie said...

Lucas started preschool yesterday and he was fine! Yes take extra clothes, you shouldn't need to send food with her, ask for your parent handbook, introduce yourself to the teachers and chat with parents. Be calm and casual and the Dictator will know that all is ok. And totally stick around for a bit to see how things are going. But don't stay too long. The teacher had to ask me to leave.

6:46 AM

Blogger petite gourmand said...

I feel for you.
I'm so glad I still have another year to deal...
good luck, figuring it all out.
I'm sure it will all go smoothly.

6:48 AM

Anonymous Sam's mom said...

Hi there,
I enjoy reading your blog, and I enjoyed "knocked up". My son Sam has only gone to daycare so far, no preschool for a couple years yet. But, the September Today's Parent has a short article with lots of tips on sending your child to preschool. It's on their website under "Are YOU ready for preschool?" Here is the address to cut and paste:
Hope all goes well! I'm looking forward to book #2!

11:47 AM

Blogger Kristen said...

I'm dreading the day Leah starts preschool. Dreading it.

4:36 PM

Blogger JennC said...

You can do it. Try not to freak out even if your kid does. The teachers are trained to deal with first days and so, if your child starts crying, usually the teacher will tell you to leave.

Even though it will break your heart. The crying usually stops 20 min max after your departure.

Stalking is probably frowned upon.

The teachers will tell you when to come back. Generally it is understood that at least one parent will be "on call" all day for the first day so it could be an hour or so later.

Good luck.

2:46 AM

Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Oh ... I remember this feeling. Too well.

I'd call the preschool and ask them some of your questions. But yes to the packing extra clothes and to preparing her.

We got to go visit the day before school started and then on the first day I walked him to the door and they discourage parents from staying. Even if the kid is sobbing and melting down. They say they stop after you leave. I used to hide around the corner to see if they were lying. They weren't

Good luck to the Dictator and to you too :)

9:12 AM

Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Hey, I just wrote about this! But more along the lines of how to treat your child care provider.

The Dictator will be fine. Please give her - and yourself - at least several weeks to adjust.

9:16 AM

Anonymous Toronto Gal said...

Send her with enough treats so she can share with her new friends. And better to bring treats/snacks than to have a sudden snack time and for her to be without.

10:55 AM

Anonymous Naomi said...

I have the same dilemma. My son is only 20 months, and he's starting school on Tuesday. I hope I can handle it!

6:19 PM

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

That's still waaaay off for us, but I do worry about it. I get separation anxiety if I leave her for a few hours. The anxiety that's gonna hit when she goes to school... aaaaah... BAD.

3:21 PM


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