First Day Labor Pains and Giving Birth To A New Year

The first day of school has come and gone, and I’m still here to tell about it.  Whew!  If you are a kindergarten teacher, I know you know what I mean by “whew!”  Each year it’s the same thing, we anxiously and nervously anticipate the arrival of a new set of kindergarteners who will become part of our school family for the next 180+ days.

It struck me today just how very similar all this first day of school business is to preparing for the arrival of a new baby and then giving birth.  We spend hours preparing our room for the new arrivals.  We make plans and give careful consideration to how we will welcome them and make them feel safe and loved.

And then it’s here . . . it’s time . . . they’re coming.  The arrival is sometimes a bit traumatic.  There is quite often a lot of confusion, a sense of uneasiness and sometimes a bunch of crying (and that’s just from the parents and kids).  We might feel like we’ll never make it.  We question whether we are adequately prepared for the enormous responsibility.  We question our abilities and wonder if we’ll be ‘good enough’ to complete the task.
Yep, welcoming a batch of new kinders feels mighty close to welcoming a new baby.  And like a new parent, when it’s all said and done, when that new batch of kindergarteners (our babies) start making progress, growing and learning beyond our wildest dreams, we, like a new mother, often forget the painful first days (child birth) with our students and how difficult it was.  All the hard work it took to get them where they need to be is a bit of a distant memory as we bask in the beauty of the bright, beautiful kindergartener standing before us ready to embark upon first grade.  But let me tell you, in the fall, after the first day of school, those labor pains are FRESH, and we all question whether we will be able to get them where they need to be, love them enough and give them everything they need.
Today I experienced those yearly labor pains and felt the excitement of welcoming my newest kindergarten class.  I survived and so did they and . . . we even started laying the ground work for Daily 5 stations by learning routines, procedures and expectations while we explored and practiced using materials.  I’m always of the mindset that it’s better to just jump in and get started . . . I breathed through the painful moments.  It was shaky at times, not always pretty and some handled it better than others, but we were all brave enough to give it a go on the first day and we did it.   Tomorrow will be even better and the next day better than the first until these labor pains are a distant memory.
Alphabetic principle
(Alphabet mat for beginning guided reading)
Until then, I’ll leave you with some first day pictures.
(Pokey Pin Names)
Congratulations on the arrival of your new class.  Enjoy them while they are little, be patient with them (and yourself), because before you know it, it will be May and they’ll be all grown up.
(Rainbow writing names)
(More Pokey Pin names!)

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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