Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 6:00 am

by Rachel Edmondson

I can’t count how many times somebody has looked at my girls and told me, “Enjoy these years. They will go by so fast.” Some days I have to restrain myself from rolling my eyes as I sarcastically think to myself, “Oh yes, this day is going so quickly. It began with poop, then a meltdown, a little more poop, a second meltdown, and after an hour of trying to get out of the house I’m finally at the grocery store with two fussy kids, and it’s only 9 in the morning!”  But despite the days that feel like they are a week long, there are always other days (let’s be honest, moments) when somebody tells me the exact same thing and I nod my head, agree, and find myself tearing up. These are the moments where my girls are quick to give sweet hugs and kisses. When I can hardly soak in enough of their smiles and giggles, and when it truly does seem like the time is flying by. But just in case I was tempted to forget how quickly these early years will pass, along came the BIG decision.

Post_Kindergarten

Kindergarten! How in the world did my baby get old enough to go to Kindergarten this fall? She just learned to walk! OK, so she’s been walking for a while now, but only a year…or 4. Just how did this happen? And how exactly am I supposed to just let her go to Kindergarten? 

She’s been in daycare part-time since she was tiny, so it’s not like we haven’t been apart, but there is something about Kindergarten that sounds so big and official. I confess, before this year, I never would have imagined how big of a decision Kindergarten can be. If your kid has a late summer birthday, do you have them start right after they turn 5 when they’ll be the youngest in their class, or do you wait a year? What if they aren’t ready and you start them too soon? Then, depending on which district you are in, your public school offers half-day or full-day Kindergarten. But what if your school offers full-day and you want half-day, or the other way around. Then what do you do? Do you look into private school options? Or maybe you want to use a private school for other reasons. Of course, many decide that homeschooling is the right option for their family. Before this year I never would have imagined how many conversations my friends and I could have around something so innocent-sounding as kindergarten.

Then, once you’ve made your big decision that this fall is THE fall, and you’ve decided where your kid will go to school, how do you get your kid ready for this next big step? 

Luckily for me, I work in a library that has all sorts of resources and handouts. At the beginning of the school year I grabbed my free copy of the United Way Kindergarten Readiness Calendar. Each month covered a different topic such as “Health and Safety First,”“Read With Your Child Each Day”and “Encourage Your Child to Use Schools Tools Such as Pencils, Markers, Crayons, and Scissors.”Then there were ideas for ways to incorporate these themes into your daily life with fun suggested books and activities throughout the month. 

Some were fun, like trying to find the color purple throughout the day. Others were practical reminders to teach my child the letters of her first and last name, help her learn her phone number, or even practicing zipping her coat on and off and then taking a walk together. It was a great reminder that the best way to get my daughter ready for school is simply taking the time to slow down and love, talk, and play with her.  

I’ve also read the “Getting School Ready!”guide courtesy of Thrive By Five with the Foundation for Early Learning that is available at the library or as a free download. I liked how this pamphlet went beyond just practicing with words and numbers and talked about preparing your kid to learn. 

Despite all of this, I still have moments where I start to freak out about sending my baby to school. Then, I give myself a little pep talk and remind myself that I am a youth librarian who has a lot of knowledge about early literacy skills and practices at my fingertips and freaking out is probably a little bit ridiculous. But then, because I can’t help myself, I find myself back online looking for tips and assessments and ways to try and know for sure if my daughter is really ready. 

Finally, I found this helpful checklist. For now, I’ve decided to work through the list with my daughter over the summer, enjoy the activities in the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar, and then trust that she is ready. 

Of course, while mommy has been busy worrying about all of these things (that’s my job, right?) my daughter’s only worry was the dreaded Kindergarten shots. We decided to get those done at the beginning of summer so she could stop worrying, and now she seems completely unfazed and relaxed about this next step. In fact, I’m pretty sure my daughter is a lot more ready for kindergarten than I am! So now that we’ve decided she is ready for Kindergarten, just how do I get myself ready to have a Kindergartener? I really have no idea, but I’m open to any and all suggestions! How did you handle this transition?

Bio_RachelE

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  • http://www.scld.org/ Gwendolyn Haley

    I remember when my oldest child started Kindergarten and I cried all the way home. She was ready, but I wasn’t! Now with child #3 we have made the decision that she is not ready this year, largely based on the resources you mention. Each child is unique, and hit those milestones in their own sweet time. Thanks for the reminder about the Kindergarten Readiness calendar, I’ll be watching for those this fall.

    • Rachel Edmondson

      Yes, each child is unique. Decisions I made with my first have not always been the right decision for my second. Parenting definitely keeps you on your toes. Also, thanks for the warning, I will be sure to bring a box of tissues when I drop my daughter off for her first day of Kindergarten!

  • Alisa Atkins

    14+ years have gone by since I was faced with this same situation of preparing for kindergarten. I remembered back to my childhood and how we took naps, ate snacks, and learned colors and letters so I thought we’d be fine. But as fall neared someone mentioned to me all the things that they (the schools) were expecting kids to already know BEFORE going to kindergarten (especially since most kids go to preschool, mine did not)…like colors and how to write their name, etc. I panicked! I only had a few months to try to teach my son these things…I’m not a teacher! So I did my best and ultimately he did fine and he is now in advanced English and science classes. I also have a 1 year old to carry thru this journey in just a little while. Thank you for the ideas of resources to check out from the library. Maybe I won’t panic so much this time…

    • Rachel Edmondson

      Alisa, I can relate! Kindergarten has definitely changed from when we were little, and even more so since your son started. Luckily those little minds are sponges and they adapt and learn far more quickly than we do. It will be interesting to see how much kindergarten changes between now and when your 1 year old is ready to start. Parenting is always an adventure!