Kindergarten can be challenging for many children. It’s often the first time young children are away from their parents and home for a long period of time, surrounded by strangers, big and small, for an entire day.
Eventually those strangers turn into friendships we cherish for many years, as well as teachers we learn to trust and respect. But at first, it can be a big adjustment, for some more than others—and for Lindsay Jolly’s son, Brock, in particular.
When 5-year-old Brock began kindergarten it was particularly hard on the little guy.
Jolly’s son is on the autism spectrum, and the mother says that getting her son ready for school was itself a huge challenge.
“Each morning, he experienced panic attacks and meltdowns before we even reached the car. By the time we got to school, I would have to hold his hand to his classroom. When we reached his classroom, I would spend a good 10-20 minutes calming him down until he felt comfortable enough to join the rest of his class. When he got home each day, he would spend hours crying.”
It was exhausting—but the dedicated mother tried everything she could to make things easier for her son.
“[I] bought weighted blankets, vests, an abundance of sensory toys and we even did kid yoga twice a day. I joined online support groups, in-person support groups.” The Ohio mom even considered medication.
She also joined her son for lunch every day to cheer him up and give him something to look forward to.
But one day she discovered that the answer was a lot more simple than she had thought.
“After Christmas break, I was surprised to see [Brock] return from school one day in January with a big smile on his face,” said Jolly.
She didn’t think much of it, however, until her son started talking about Mr. T, a teacher in another grade. And just like that, Brock started to change.
“Each day when he would come home, he would immediately say Mr. T gave him a high-five again today or Mr. T said hi to him. It would later change to, he gave Mr. T a high-five and a hug today.”
Mr. T didn’t do anything out of the ordinary or particularly special—but it seemed to be just what Brock needed.
“The high-fives didn’t cure my son’s anxiety, but it gave him something to look forward to, which is so important when so many decisions are taken away from our kids.”
Slowly but surely over the next few months, Brock’s anxiety subsided, his confidence increased, he began to even enjoy going to school, and he needed his mother less and less.
In just five months, the 5-year-old boy who struggled every second of the day to prepare for, tolerate, and calm down after coming home from school, made tremendous progress and began to genuinely enjoy school.
“By May, he didn’t need me to walk past the front of the school with him, and on some days, he even asked to take the bus.”
A high five, a smile, or a friendly ‘good morning’ is all it took.
Brock is now in third grade, and as his mother recently reported on Facebook, he’s doing excellent.
“Tonight I had his annual IEP meeting, and learned that this guy who wasn’t able to read a year ago, is now reading 132 words per minute. The average for a 3rd grader is 82 wpm. What? Proud is an understatement.”
Kindness can sure go a long way. It’s just as powerful as it is simple.