McKenzie Elementary School vice-principal and kindergarten teacher Melanie Postle welcomes her class for 2017-18. Travis Paterson/News Staff

VIDEO: First-class experience: starting kindergarten

For kids and their parents, first day of kindergarten can bring stress and excitement

It’s an exciting time for first time students, an anxious time for parents, and a time of year many high school students dread: Back to school.

The return to the fall routine is enough of a stresser that many Greater Victoria families routinely elect not to travel over the Labour Day weekend, one of the three precious summer long weekends, just to get organized.

So where does the anxiety come from, and is it justified?

Melanie Postle is the vice-principal and kindergarten teacher at McKenzie Elementary in Saanich. She’s calmed many parents new to the school system through the Welcome to Kindergarten session, which is designed to ease the transition.

“We all have busy summers, you spend all summer telling your child they’re going to kindergarten, and all of a sudden you say ‘[gasp]’, are they ready to go to kindergarten? Have I prepared them for kindergarten?” Postle said.

“It’s a huge challenge for parents whose children aren’t in the school system to know what to expect, so we gave the parents a few things to help.”

Helpful tips are ensuring the children can get in and out of their own shoes and coats, prepping them to use a public washroom by themselves, printing and recognizing their own name and, navigating the lunch box.

“A huge thing is eating, [come lunch time] can they open the container [you’ve packed]?” Postle said.

For those with a second child entering the school system, most of that anxiety is washed away.

Ashley Hubbard is sending son Zachary, 5, into kindergarten at South Park Family School this week. With an older son in Grade 2, it’s been a much different experience this time around, she said.

“I’m not nervous for [Zachary]. It’s like yay for me, but it’s also sad for me, he’s my last baby [at home],” Hubbard said. “We know the school, the teachers, many of the families, so there’s no unknowns for us, it’s our everyday life now.”

So what does a brand new kindergarten student look forward to?

“Playing Lego with my friends,” Zachary said (indeed there is a box of Lego tucked away for play time).

While Zachary’s got it mostly figured out, he also has the benefit of some advice from big brother Broden, 7.

“Listen, criss-cross apple sauce [or, cross your legs when you sit] and be kind.”

As the mother of three, Postle knows the anxiety many parents feel when they drop their kids off at kindergarten in that first week.

“The thing parents need to know is we all care for their children and we want their children to be the best they can be as well,” Postle said. “We’re here to nurture them through learning, we’re not here to label them, make them sit out or ostracize them. We want them to have the best experience they can.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

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Five-year-old Zachary Hubbard sits outside South Park Family School on Wednesday morning, his first day of kindergarten. Travis Paterson/News Staff

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