Are you ready for kindergarten?
I have heard this question countless times in the past year. I’ve started answering honestly–NO!
I try not to be too emphatic in my answer. I joke, “I’m not ready, but she is!” But it’s the truth. My daughter is ready. She’s excited to play on the kindergarten playground, make new friends, and learn new things. I’ve done my best to give her the tools for success in school. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready for her to go.
Dragging My Feet
The best way to describe how I’m feeling about kindergarten would be: I feel like my cat whenever I try to put her into her carrier. She hooks her claws into the carpet, spreads out her feet on either side of the carrier door and refuses to enter calmly. Unlike my cat, I’m calm on the outside, while inside I’m crying.
I recommend gathering a group of friends who also have children headed to kindergarten.
It also helps to talk with friends who have older kiddos already in elementary school. They have been in your shoes and will have a lot of the answers. Talking through concerns with friends will definitely help. You need a mom tribe. My friends have helped me with this process more than they will ever know!
Do I still wake up in the middle of the night worried about some aspect of kindergarten I haven’t planned for? Oh yeah. Concerns like, will she be able to carry her lunchbox inside her backpack or will that make it too heavy? How will she navigate from drop off to her classroom alone? What if all the kids in her class know more sight words than she does?
This is why it is great having friends who’ve been there, done that, because they have the experience and they have the answers.
Making Lists and Getting Ready
Lists make me feel safe. If there’s a list, there’s a plan. I need a plan.
At the start of summer, I started making and gathering lists. I have a list of books from my daughter’s VPK teacher that she recommended we read over the summer. The elementary school gave incoming kindergartners a packet of activities to complete over the summer, so we are working through that. A friend gave me a list of 80 skills that help kids with the transition to kindergarten, so we’re checking those off. And I finished gathering all of her school supplies the second week of July and I’m very relieved to check that off my prep list.
Here’s How I’m Preparing Her
In order for her to stay in school mode this summer, I signed my daughter up for half day summer camp. I was worried she would get used to being at home with me all summer and that would make the kindergarten transition harder.
Every few days, I ask her to write her name, first and last. I also role-play with her, asking questions like, ‘If a teacher you don’t know asks you your name, what do you say?’ We are also working on reading comprehension. After we read a story, I ask her about it. Some examples of questions include, ‘Who was your favorite character?’ ‘What did he do?’ ‘How do you think he felt when…?’
We hit a stumbling block when I tried to teach her her phone number and address. I started at the beginning of summer, and a month later she still couldn’t remember her phone number. My husband, noticing our mutual frustration, took my daughter aside, handed her his phone and told her, ‘Let’s call Mommy.’ Two days later, she knows my phone number! Next up, the address…I’m taking the cue from him and she’s going to be sending herself some mail.
I’ve noticed a lot more ‘what ifs’ lately and they are focused on kindergarten.
‘What if my teacher forgets me on the playground?’ ‘What if I never get to be line leader?’ ‘What if…’ My first inclination was to brush these concerns aside, but then I realized that this was an opportunity to practice problem solving and also alleviate some of her anxieties about starting school. I just wish she wouldn’t ask me the ‘What if’s’ while I’m navigating the diverging diamond! We talk through her proposed solutions and I do my best to guide her, while letting the plans be hers.
So, Kindergarten Here We Come!
Whether I like it or not (and I obviously don’t) my little girl is growing up. She’s ready to take on the challenges and joys of starting school. But I can tell you one thing, I’m definitely going to need the Mimosas for Mommy playdate my friend is planning for the first day of school!