THE PHASE WHEN UNFILTERED WORDS MAKE YOU LAUGH, SCHOOL DROP–OFF MAKES YOU CRY, AND LIFE BECOMES A STAGE WHERE YOUR KID SHOUTS, “LOOK AT ME!”
I still remember the tears (mine!) when I dropped off my first child in his Kindergarten classroom. The next year when I dropped off my second child I thought it would be a breeze and I even planned to meet some friends for celebratory coffee afterward, but the huge sob that made its way up my chest from my heart totally caught me off guard.
It was harder the second time around! Launching our kids in any capacity is a pull on the mama’s heartstrings and a leap of faith.
Kirsten Ivy, child development expert, and Reggie Joiner, founder, and CEO of Orange and major influencer, are leading the way in educating parents regarding the different phases we all go through.
I want to share some of their wisdom here.
God designed every phase of a kid’s life and we can use each phase as a timeframe in a kid’s life to leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.
We often say in exasperation, “It’s just a phase. Hopefully she will grow out of it!” but what if we changed our thinking and replaced it with, “It’s just a phase, don’t miss it!”
Each phase is special and unique. Think of it this way…you only have 52 weeks with your kindergartener while they are still in kindergarten. Then they will be in first grade, and you will never know them as a kindergartener again. Welp.
The phase of kindergarten has amazing potential. Kids in this phase can now talk in long rambling sentences and they say the darndest things. Don’t forget to write down those gems so you can cherish them forever. My husband and I still repeat some of the darndest things our five kids said.
This phase brings with it a huge shift – school! That means more structure, less playtime, and a higher demand for focused attention. During this phase, your kindergartener might crave a little unstructured playtime and opportunities to get lost in their imaginations.
They are also likely to share the spotlight with a classroom of kids rather than be the center of attention, which takes some getting used to. You will find your kindergartener wanting and even demanding your undivided attention. Give it as often as you can.
Your child at this phase thinks like a scientist. They are trying to figure everything out. How does it work? Why does it work? What happens if I do this? You help them learn when you give them concrete examples because kids at this age don’t understand abstract concepts yet.
Your child at this phase wants to know if they have your attention. “Watch me!” You capture their heart when you improve their abilities. That takes intentionality and precious time spent together.
Your child at this phase is motivated by fun. You coach their moral abilities when you play on their level. Said another way, you can often build their character and teach life lessons with a little humor and fun. Fun can open the ears and the heart.
You can use the natural rhythms of your day like morning time, drive time, mealtime, and bedtime to your advantage.
During the morning time, you can be a coach. Start their day with encouraging words of affirmation.
Then as you are driving be a friend. Listen and interpret life during informal conversations. These can be some of the sweetest times as they ramble about their life from the backseat.
At mealtime, you can be a teacher. Establish values with intentional conversations while you eat together.
And finally, bedtime. Be a counselor. Strengthen your relationship through heart conversations at the end of the day. Tucking your little sweetie in at night in the dark while snuggling and being close some of the most vulnerable feelings and thoughts some flooding out and it’s a great opportunity to talk about Jesus and pray together.
These times of natural rhythms are built right into your day for you. You just need to be intentional and take advantage of them.
Reading is a great way to bond with your child. There are some fun book suggestions that Ivey and Joiner have given us to read with kindergarteners.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS by Judy Barrett
MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney
THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt
NANNA UPSTAIRS AND NANNA DOWNSTAIRS by Tomie dePaola
GOOD AS NEW by Barbara Douglass
IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? By Deborah Guarino
CHRYSANTHEMUM by Kevin Henkes
WAITING by Kevin Henkes
FRANCES (SERIES) by Russell Hoban
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? By Steve Jenkins
FROG AND TOAD (SERIES) by Arnold Lobel
GEORGE AND MARTHA by James Marshall
ELMER by David McKee
LITTLE BEAR (SERIES) by Else Homelund Minarik
THE DAY JIMMY’S BOA ATE THE WASH by Trinka Hakes Noble
MAGIC TREE HOUSE (SERIES) by Mary Pope Osbourne
Kindergarteners are also capable of doing small jobs to promote independence and confidence. The creators of Orange have also given us a list of work that your kindergartener can do:
START LEARNING TO TIE SHOES
LEARN HOW TO MAKE A PHONE CALL
WASH AND DRY HANDS AND USE TOILET PAPER INDEPENDENTLY (not in that order)
SORT TOYS AND PUT THEM AWAY
LOAD AND UNLOAD THE LAUNDRY
HELP SET THE TABLE
LOAD AND UNLOAD THE DISHWASHER
FIX A BOWL OF CEREAL (help them pour the milk)
MAKE THE BED
Who isn’t motivated by fun? Here are ways to have fun with your Kindergartener:
TWISTER UNO BINGO
MEMORY SORRY CONNECT 4
TROUBLE CHECKERS HI HO CHERRY-O
OPERATION MOUSETRAP PIEFACE
CANDYLAND TIC TAC TOE KERPLUNK
PLAY-DOH SIMON SAYS 50 PIECE PUZZLE
WATER BALLOONS MARBLE RUNS ART W/CRAYONS OR WATERCOLORS
SWING, CLIMB SLIDE LEGOS
BEANBAG TOSS SIDEWALK CHALK SWIM AND PLAY IN WATER
SORTING GAMES CATCH FIREFLIES RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT
The kindergarten phase is an excellent time to begin the conversations about sexuality and technology. These are two super important and vital areas to be very intentionally involved in.
In the area of sexual integrity, it is time to give simple answers to biological questions and
continue coaching privacy and personal boundaries. Keep answers casual.
Say things like:
I’m so glad you asked me.
It’s always ok to tell someone “no” if you don’t want them to touch you.
Can you give your sister some space?
Your friend might not want you to sit on his face.
When it comes to technology this year you will explore the possibilities so your child will understand core values and build online skills. Your child has probably already used a phone, a tablet, and a computer.
Say things like:
Never use Google alone.
I don’t know, but we can look that up together.
You have ten more minutes and then it’s time to put the iPad away.
Let me see what you did.
You need to ask me before you use the computer.
Siri doesn’t always know what we are asking.
And then lastly, the conversations about faith are the most important. Your child is learning about faith in the church, but don’t let that be the only place they are hearing about faith. Talk about it in the context of everyday life.
Say things like:
Are you scared? Let’s talk to God about it.
Isn’t that wonderful? Let’s thank God for it.
Let’s make dinner for Mrs. Smith. She doesn’t feel well.
You can trust God no matter what.
Enjoy this phase! It is so enjoyable and passes quickly. Don’t miss it.
If you would like to know more, check out the Parenting Your Kindergartner book by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com