It’s pre-enrollment time! Pull out the Baby Einstein! It’s time to prep your child for that all-important pre-k interview! Make sure junior can write his name, practice having him say something–anything–when an adult speaks to him, and make sure he’s well-fed and well-rested before heading out to the school of choice. Hopefully you’ll get through the experience without him hitting another child or having a major meltdown, and you’ll be in! Getting in isn’t really the point though, is it? The important thing is that your child is really and truly ready to learn–otherwise, you’re flushing your money down the toilet.
Listen to me–forget the flash cards. The very most important thing for any child entering school, at any grade, is the ability to pay attention and follow instructions. You can ask any teacher you know and they’ll tell you they would trade a genius or “gifted” student any day for one that pays attention and does what the teacher tells him. Unfortunately, you can’t teach this in the week prior to your initial interview; it takes months of patient, consistent instruction.
The time to begin is around the age of two, when your little one is beginning to leave babyhood and enter toddlerhood. Up to this point, your job has been to focus much of your attention on him, but now it’s time to turn the tables–and it isn’t going to be pretty! Since he’s used to being at the center of things, he’s going to protest, and loudly, when you assume your position as his leader rather than his servant. You may feel a bit conflicted yourself, and maybe even guilty–it somehow doesn’t seem right to deny your precious little one what he wants, and everything goes so much more smoothly when he gets his way! So how to make the adjustment?
Begin by following these simple steps:
1. Practice saying “I’m the mother, and I know best!” You do know what’s best for your child, don’t you? Of course you do! 2. Stop getting your parenting advice from psychologists, and stop following all the latest parenting trends – follow your gut! You have good sense–use it! 3. When in doubt, ask your grandmother–or another woman of grandmotherly age, who’s done a good job of bringing up children, and has seen a thing or two.
4. Resume your pre-baby life. NOTE: In saying this I don’t mean you should pretend you don’t have a child, but don’t let being a mother eclipse every other aspect of who you are–your talents, friendships, and enjoyments. Trust me when I say you’ll become isolated and lonely if all you do is care for your child, read about caring for your child, continually Googling all of your concerns, etc. . .
5. Focus more on your marriage than on your child. Again: Focus more on your marriage than on your child! Your relationship with your husband preceded the child, and will continue after your child leaves (and leave he must). Your child NEEDS for you to have a healthy marriage far more than he needs an ever-present mom. 6. Read my article “Confessions of a Helicopter Mom.”
Making the adjustment from child-centeredness to an adult-centered existence is the first step in preparing your child for school, and preparing yourself for your own healthy and productive life after your children leave home. It’s hard to think of now, but don’t allow sentimentality to keep you captive to this moment–keep living!