building traditions : a kinder goodbye

My little kinder kid, Ben, has school in the afternoon only.  We get mornings together, he gets (most of) his wilds out, I feed him lunch, and then he's off to school on the big, yellow bus, ready for some fun and learning.

We have a few little traditions that help make the goodbye a bit sweeter.  We love 'em, and do them every single day.  And this semester, since I'm watching his friend in the mornings, too, we've doubled up on the traditions.

Here's what we do -

First, if we have a few extra minutes and they listened well getting their shoes and backpacks and all that on and together, they each get a big under-dog push on our tree swing.  Such fun!  And such a bummer if they don't quite decide to listen quickly when it's time to go.  It's a great incentive!

Second, we race to the gate.  Somehow, I never win!  These are some speedy kids!  And they know that when they get there, they wait for me and don't go into the street without me.  They love showing me that obedience, and are teaching James why it's so important.  :)

Third, after we cross the street together to the bus stop, they run off down the side of the road, about half a block away.  From there, they take turns counting.  They pick how they want to count - do you want to count to a hundred?  By tens?  Backwards from 10 to 1?  It's great practice for the skills they are picking up in kindergarten.  Ben goes first, counts whichever way he chooses, and then runs, as speedily as he can, straight to me.  I sweep him up in my arms, swing him around and around, give him a quick kiss, and put him down.  By this point, his friend is almost done with HIS special counting and is barreling toward me, and ready for his spins.  His friend loooooves to yell "eeeeeeeeew" when Ben gets his kiss.  Which, of course, means we have to give each other another kiss!

Fourth, after the running and spinning, they just hang around for a few minutes until the bus arrives.  While we're waiting, we review some of their school skills.  I'll ask them, "What letter makes the beginning sound of flower?  Of bug?  Of stick?  What's the ending sound in cloud?  Lets stretch the word 'bus'."  We continue on until we see the bus headed our way down the street.

Fifth, as the bus approaches, I try to help them transition out of wild and crazy kid mode into student mode.  I ask them, "Who's ready to listen to Mrs. B______?"  They raise their hands (or feet or whatever ;)) and I say, "Ben is, J__ is!" "Who's ready to keep their hand to themselves?"  "Ben is!  J__ is!"  "Who's ready to be a kind friend?  "J___ is!  Ben is!"  I like prompting and encouraging to remember their important school behaviors, and I like them feeling ownership and excitement over those choice.

By then, the bus pulls up, I give Ben another little kiss and "I love you!" and a "Have a great day!" to both of them, and they get on the bus, ready for their busy afternoon of learning.

I LOVE these moments, probably even more than they do.   But, believe me, when we're a little short on time, they are the ones who remind me not to skip anything, and what to do.  It's fun, and I really hope it helps them get in the right mode for their afternoon away from home.  I think it's a lot of work, being a big kindergartner!   I want them to feel ready and willing and able!!  And it's been so fun to see them learn and bring new skills into the mix - they really do pick so much knowledge up this kindergarten year.

And really, truly, I can't believe it's almost over and this not-so-little guy is off to full day school in first grade in just a couple of months!  How does this happen, anyway?

(totally cliche, I know...)


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Martie said...

This was really fun to read! We are big on traditions too. (Did you know that I actually offer a small piece of candy to the girl who remembers family prayers before school? Whatever it takes...) Ben (and J) will remember these traditions fondly, forever. I love traditions! Keep up the amazing work, sister. I am proud of the person you are and the person you seek to be.