Aug 13, 2012

Tales of The First Grade Nightmare {For Mom's}

When my oldest daughter started first grade, I was so excited!

She would be at school all day for the first time, (we did half day kindergarten), and I just knew that would be the year she blossomed.

Ummm, not so much.

{At least not at first}

The first day was wonderful.  She loved her teacher, her classmates, and getting to eat lunch at school like a "big kid".

But after that first day, things changed a bit.

I noticed that she was a lot more emotional.

And when I say a lot, I mean laying-on-the-floor-crying-for-no-reason kind of emotional.

She would hit and kick her sister for no reason at all, (which may be a normal thing now, but back then it was completely out of character), and scream and my husband and I when we asked her why she did it.

It was as if I had sent my sweet little precious girl to first grade, and they had sent back an emotional basket case.

After this had continued for several weeks, I started to get concerned.

Did she have some kind of psychiatric problem that was just now surfacing?

Did she need medication?

And I was wondering if she was behaving this way in class.

I emailed her teacher, and I am so thankful for the advice she gave me.

She said that while it was frustrating for me, this was completely normal behavior.

She explained that transitioning into a full day at school is a BIG deal for a kid.

She told me that she was behaving wonderfully at school, and that may have even been responsible for some of the problems I was having at home.

You see, My little girl was holding all of her "stuff" inside all day long.

Her nervousness.

Her anxiety.

Her insecurities.

Her extra energy.

Her emotions.

And once she got home, all those things had to come out.

In the safety of her home.

The place that she knows that she is loved unconditionally.

And yes, it was VERY frustrating to me.

But after she explained it, and I thought about it, I knew she was right.

This was one of the biggest changes in her life, and of course it would be a big adjustment.

So instead of yelling at her and sending her to her room, I started having conversations with her about all the feelings she was having about school. 

We started talking about ways to help with her tiredness and frustration.

We had earlier bedtimes, and decided that when she got home, being alone watching TV or reading was what she needed for the first half hour or so.

And we also encouraged her to write about how she felt, or whatever was going on.  And she LOVED that.  In fact, she is still a writer today.

Not all of the emotional craziness went away, (she is my daughter after all....the craziness is inherited!), but it did get better.  And over time, it got a lot better!

Now I have my youngest starting first grade in two days.

This time, I'm prepared.

{As well as any mom can be}

I am expecting the emotional roller coaster we will probably face for the next several months.

Not fun, but completely "normal".

Anyone else have this same experience?  How did you handle it?


  1. I had this experience EVEN THOUGH my son had been in childcare since he was an infant and eventually (as I worked up from part-time back to full-time at my job) was there 9 hours a day. When he went to full-day kindergarten at a new school, followed by 2 hours at a nearby childcare, suddenly he was much more tired and moody! We talked about it and learned that he FELT the school day was longer even though it was actually shorter, because there was less playtime than in preK. He also did not like his after-school care. Luckily, his father lost his job in November of his kindergarten year, so we took him out of after-school care and had him come home earlier. That helped a lot.

    It's also been crucial for us to maintain an early bedtime and reduction of exciting activities for a couple hours before bed. Our child seems wired for later sleeping, and we like it too, so when he was in childcare that was flexible about arrival time, we'd get him there around 9:30. Public school starts at 8:00, so that was a big adjustment! Even after he got accustomed to the earlier schedule, it is harder for him to get to sleep early than later, so we need to set up the evening such that it helps him wind down.

  2. My daughter just started all day pre-school, today. I am so glad I got to read this article and I will be able to understand and help her to deal with her feelings
    Thanks for sharing


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I LOVE hearing from my readers, and I really appreciate your feedback.