School administrators offer tips for kindergarten parents

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

Students aren’t the only ones who can become nervous at the thought of returning back to school.

Parents can get nervous, too, especially parents of kindergarten students heading to school for the first time in their young lives.

Many administrators at Shelby County elementary schools know the feeling.

“We went through it ourselves when we had younger children,” said Judy Weismann, an assistant principal at Calera Elementary. “We know what they’re going through. We know how upset they are that their little baby is going off to school.”

More than 150 kindergarten students will start school this year at Calera.

“The best advice would be for the parents to hold it together, because if the parents cry, the child is going to cry,” Weismann said. “The parent needs to put up a strong face at least until they get out of the building, and then they can cry all the way home.”

An important point to remember, she said, is that if parents cry, chances are the kid will cry, too.

“The children take their cues from the parent,” Weismann said. “If parents are really nervous about it, they’re going to make their children really nervous about it. They shouldn’t talk about how nervous and upset they are in front of the children.”

Policies may vary from school to school, but most schools will accommodate parents for the first several days of the new school year. At Calera, parents are allowed to come in, see the school and walk their children to the classroom for the first week.

“But then they need to start making that separation,” Weismann said.

Some schools, like Columbiana’s Elvin Hill Elementary, have a class for parents before the first day of school. Between 80 and 100 kindergarten students will start there this year.

“One of the things we tell is that yes, on that first day you can walk up to the classroom, but as soon as you walk out of the classroom they (the students) will get settled,” Elvin Hill Principal Betsy Hillman said. “The kids will be fine. We always promise the parents that if the kids aren’t fine then we will call them.”

Hillman said it’s important for parents to put on a strong face for the children.

“If mama’s OK, everybody is OK,” she said. “Mama might have to pretend to be OK.”

Hillman said a few kids might even cry as their parents leave the classroom.

“But once everybody clears out of the room, and the teacher has their attention, they get so excited about the day that they are fine.”