Perhaps you've noticed that your kid is wiped out and hangry (hungry/angry) when they get home from school these first couple of weeks, especially if they are new to this whole school thing. That's OK! Your child is going to be completely exhausted for a while (as is their teacher). It is a long day for little bodies (and big ones). Be patient and allow time for everyone, (including yourself), to develop a rhythm. A new routine of packing lunches, checking backpacks and folders, waking up early, homework, and after school activities can really turn the household upside down.
Your child might be just plain wiped out for the first few weeks and maybe even months of school. It is a long day for them, and they may need a nap when they get home. If they are cranky and exhausted every afternoon or evening after around the halfway point in the school year, it may be a sign they need to go to bed earlier. Kids need lots of sleep when their little brains and bodies are busy throughout the day growing and stretching in new ways, and sometimes we don’t realize they aren’t really getting enough. Plus, an earlier bedtime for them means more grown-up time for you.
You also may notice an increase in your child’s appetite after starting school. They are expending a lot of energy throughout the day, and growing brains need fuel. Besides, a cafeteria full of 100 or more kids can be a distracting place at first, so they often don’t eat all of their lunch. Soon, they will adjust, and will probably start finishing their lunch more consistently. In the beginning, just know they have a lot to take in at lunchtime, and it can be overwhelming initially. Not to worry, it will soon be their new normal, but in the meantime you can help by making sure they are eating a healthy breakfast (yogurt and a banana as you fly out the door totally count), and filling snacks.
Your kids are likely adjusting to a new sleeping and eating routine, and it may just take their body a bit to fully adapt. Snacks and meals are scheduled at school, and those may not be the times they are used to eating. In addition, they are probably going to bed and getting up earlier than they are used to. Soon, things will work themselves out.
Along those lines, we teachers may look all put together the first week or so of school. We may even wear heels or a tie because the school year is still shiny and new, but just know that we too are exhausted. I promise, even the most seasoned teacher needs a week or two to get into a routine as he or she is getting to know the students.
In kindergarten especially, it is physically taxing just to make sure all those little bodies stay together and everyone makes it back from a bathroom break. On top of that, teachers have spent countless hours setting up their classroom, rearranging, and reorganizing. So, you may need to cut him or her some slack in returning phone calls or emails at first. If they seem a little scattered on the playground at pick-up time, they probably are, but don’t write them off as a flake just yet. They are juggling a lot! Give them the benefit of the doubt, and maybe bring them an iced coffee or a Diet Coke. August and September are hot, and caffeine is always appreciated.
**This is an excerpt from my book (Chapter 1: Butt Cracks, Kindergarten, and How to Really Prepare Your Child for School) Grab your copy of Candid Classroom on Amazon for more!**