Eve and Vera are into singing all the children’s songs I remember from my own childhood. Every day they serenade me with “Old McDonald,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” “The ABC’s.” On and on it goes. It’s a bittersweet sound to me. Their little voices are adorable but it also reminds me of how quickly we’re approaching a new stage of life.
This is a transition year for us. The twins are attending UPK and will be out of the house every weekday morning. It means several things.
- They will be in different classes so they’ll be separated for the first time.
- They will be in the public school system for the first time.
- Their social skills will be put to the test for the first “real” time.
I had the choice to either keep the girls together or separate them. I chose to separate them. Next year, in full day kindergarten, they will be separated. I thought it would be easier to get them used to it during this half day program at UPK. They love each other so much and are nearly inseparable. I expect to have a few rough days but overall I truly believe they’ll be better off in the long run. Though, I have to admit, I am nervous.
On public school
Last year, I enrolled the twins in a twice-a-week preschool program at a local church. It was awesome! I loved the environment, I loved the staff, and I loved knowing that the school operated on Christian values. My kids still sing “Twinkle, twinkle, Christmas star.” They’re not going to have that at school anymore, which means I am twice as mindful about pouring God’s love and goodness into their little hearts when they’re at home.
I am excited about the opportunity to meet and become friends with non-churchgoing families as well. There aren’t many people in my life right now that I can invest myself into that way. On the other hand, I am not prepared to talk about some of the things my kids are sure to pick up at school. So, while I look forward to all the good, there is a part of me that’s nervous about that too.
On social skills
Except for the preschool program last year, I have been present in Eve and Vera’s life pretty much every waking minute. This means I’ve had the opportunity to intervene and help them learn to share, talk nice, take turns, and do nice things for other people. Now, I find myself encouraging them to work things out on their own because I won’t be there to intercede and settle disputes at school. Yes, I will always coach them at home, but they’re going to be tested on a new level this year.
The other day when the girls were singing “The Farmer in the Dell,” I was reminded of my own gym class experiences in elementary school. Sometimes, we’d sing that song and when it came to “The farmer picks a wife,” whoever was the acting farmer would call out a student’s name and that person would run across the gym to stand by the farmer. It would continue on as “the wife picked a dog” and so on. I remember, even back then, how anxious I’d feel if I wasn’t picked early on. At a young age, I felt a certain amount of affirmation as a person if I was picked first. It made me feel good. I’m sure I got over it pretty quickly those times I wasn’t picked, but that moment of anxiety is something I haven’t forgotten.
This year, my girls are going to start experiencing those social situations. They’ll have the surge of relief and excitement when they’re chosen. They’ll feel let down and disappointed when they’re not. It’s good for them. I know this. I want them to learn how to work through it. I want them to know that the world does not revolve around them. Still, they are beyond precious to me and I know their hearts are tender, so this too makes me nervous.
But in all things, be faithful
Life is full of stages and changes. This year will mark the start of the biggest change I’ve experienced since becoming a mom. I know I will have to coax them to share their experiences so that I can continue to coach them. I will have to help them understand that some people don’t share our faith and worldview. I will have to teach them the importance of letting God have our whole hearts because He can always show us the right thing to do.
Sometimes I feel like putting my kids in a bubble and only exposing them to “good” things. Except I know it doesn’t work that way. Going to school does not automatically mean a bad experience. Neither does being home always guarantee the best one. The way I see it, no matter which way you approach this, you have the duty to instill God’s goodness into them at every opportunity and trust Him with the rest.
So how do you handle this? If you were to give one piece of advice about helping your kids transition into attending school, what would it be?