Parents often feel more overwhelmed than children on the first d - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Parents often feel more overwhelmed than children on the first day of kindergarten

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

It's the first day of kindergarten for 5-year-olds, and you see that familiar teary-eyed look, not from the children heading to school, but their parents.

Dr. Kara Scholl, Principal at South Shades Crest Elementary, knows the look well. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that sends a message to the tear ducts of your eyes that says it's too soon. Many of us went through the same kind of thing dropping the children off at preschool, but somehow this is different.

Scholl says, "It's more overwhelming for the parents than it is for the kids. Parents have a lot of questions like, 'Where am I sending my most precious person off to, to trust them, to take care of them, for the majority of their waking hours?'"

It does become more real. Thoughts of, "Did I make the best decision?" "Will they see in my child what I see?" "Can they tap into my child's highest potential, not just as students learning reading and math, but model the example to help them to also become good people?"

Those same kinds of emotions came to Scholl when her little ones were ready for school.

"It can be really exciting and it can be heartbreaking because your baby is growing up and it goes so fast. I remember putting my baby on that bus and she didn't even turn around to tell me goodbye and I cried all the way to work," said Scholl. "I think it is also emotional because, what a huge life experience for your child. Kids are excited, but they really don't realize how big this is, but parents [think] wow this is big. They are meeting their friends that possibly will be with them for life and opening the door to learning that will carry them through the rest of their school career and through life, and that's huge, and I think as parents we see that."

During the meet your teacher time ahead of the first day, some watchful parents found it hard to let go, especially if that little one was still clinging to their leg saying, "I am never letting go."

The classroom teacher reassures parents with a tissue box in hand saying, "She'll be fine. We'll take good care of her. I'll treat her like my own."

Irondale Middle School Principal Carita Venable experienced parents with similar emotions with new 6th graders coming from elementary school.

"For one thing, they are going from having one or two teachers to having seven teachers in this big school," said Venable.

Just as with the elementary school, parents can come only so far into the building on the first day. Venable says there is a reason for that.

"We want them to trust us," Venable said.

Venable tells parents to trust them with helping their students make that big transition into middle school.

"Parents know they're not losing their children in their heads, but in their hearts they're not so sure. Both principals express the need for keeping those communications channels open between parents and teachers, such as emails, texts etc. The parent has so much information that can help the teacher. Things that have been part of their history, things that can help the experience, things that are happening at home, things they are excited about and participate in, or things they are afraid of. What are your child's strengths and weaknesses that teachers can build on? And, again, that just strengthens that relationship making everyone feel connected and getting the year started," Scholl continued.

It is kind of like welcoming someone new to your family. That teacher is part of a very important role in your child's life.

"Even now, I still think about who were my teachers growing up. That's somebody who is part of your life forever," Scholl said.

Venable says she was purposefully in the lobby of the school to reassure parents. She also did a schoolcast while parents were in the school.

"I got a lot of thank you letters from parents who said, 'My baby had a good day.'" Venable said.

Total disclosure - After all the stories I've done over the years about this first day of school and watching parents hold back the tears, some not doing so well at it, I got choked up when my daughter entered the door and the teacher came to meet her. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree at the idea of meeting new friends and that big playground and the class turtle. I really understand how big this is for her and the influence her school community will have on her as she explores her new world. I am encouraged by all of you who have successfully navigated through these waters before, trusting others to care for your children, hoping they do so at least close to the way you do, and to her new teacher I say, "Welcome to the family."

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