By Melissa Ford
When my son and daughter first went to kindergarten, I imagined an environment that would nurture their love of learning, encourage friendships and instill a sense of belonging. I was excited for school to start, introducing another supportive, nurturing adult into their lives. Then the first day of kindergarten arrived.
I vividly remember this milestone - parents gathering on the playground, watching as their child lined up, looking for signs of fear or concern, cameras flashing and children waving goodbye. I was one of the parents smiling and waving until I looked into the teary eyes of others. Sadness crept in because life was changing once again and my children were growing up. Deep down I knew my son and daughter would be fine in their new school, but walking home I wondered about my own conflicted emotions. Was I really ready?
What stirred these old memories of kindergarten days gone by?
Recently, I conversed with Julie Bernstein, kindergarten teacher at Holmes School, about the upcoming “Kindergarten and Your Child” presentation on April 19th at 7 pm at the Oak Park Public Library. “The presentation isn’t just about getting your kids ready for kindergarten,” she explained. “It’s designed to ease parents concerns so that both children and parents are comfortable making the transition.”
As the interview came to a close, I asked one last question, “What do you like about teaching kindergarten?” Julie Bernstein provided such a heartfelt, beautiful response - I must share it with you. Once you read her words below, I doubt you’ll have any concerns about sending your child to kindergarten.
“I’ve been teaching 14 years at Holmes School. I love the energy of 5 and 6 year olds, their curiosity and helping families feel comfortable moving into the big school. It’s so important to build up a trust with families and help parents learn to let go and trust another adult with their child. My job is to form a partnership with parents so they are comfortable with me.
All kindergarten teachers feel strongly about making the transition easy. I know parents have a strong vision of their child’s first day of kindergarten and entrusting their child with a stranger, a new teacher, can be hard. Parents put a huge amount of faith in us and I honor that. I know what it feels like and I want parents to know, we really do care for your children.” - Julie Bernstein
If you've been through those first days of kindergarten, what helped you and your child make the transition easier?