I have been a stay at home mom since my first son was born 5 years ago. Everything about Tristan was easy. Delivery was quick and easy, he hit all his milestones right on time, and potty trained pretty much effortlessly. He was ready for school, he was just ready. No doubt in my mind. Kai, not so much. Brutal delivery, milestones, what milestones? Potty training? I’ll keep my diapers thanks very much!
Being a glorious December baby, he is eligible to go to school much earlier then Tristan was and I really question whether or not he is ready. He also very much walks to the beat of his own drum. A rhythm that may or may not harmonize with Mommy’s.
I am eager to move onto the next phase, I’d like to work, to get out more, to have a bit more freedom. I feel tremendously guilty about it, but it is nevertheless how I feel. I’m over being a stay at home mom. So out comes my kindergarten ready checklist, as I hesitantly begin to prepare Kai for the Junior Kindergarten journey.
7 things you should know
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to push him to do anything he isn’t ready for. And ultimately if he isn’t ready, he isn’t ready. Suck it up mama and move on. Plans will have to change and I am sure this won’t be the last time I have to adapt and roll with it.
Looking back on the experience I had with Tristan, there are a few things I wish I had known before sending him to school. He was 4 when he started and while he was ready to tackle something new, it by no means made it easy.
Staying home with mom had its benefits but also made it much harder for him to adapt to school once the time came to go all day, every day. (whhaaat?)
Here’s are 7 things I found in my experience with kindergarten, and as I reflect on these things while making my decision to send Kai to school, I hope putting them out there will help you in your decision-making process and maybe help ease the chaos that is no doubt going on in your mind. (Especially if your littles have spent most of there time at home with you as mine did.)
1. Knowing the basics
Starting kindergarten is a big deal, a lot of changes, a lot of emotions and new situations they have to tackle every day. If they have the basics down, this can go a long way in building their confidence. Seeing familiar things or covering known topics such as ABC’s or colours or numbers, will help to make them feel comfortable and ready to tackle kindergarten. “Hey! I know this, Mom (or Dad) taught me this! Kindergarten you’re gonna be a breeze!”
2. Speak up for your child
You will have to do this, so prepare yourself now. I am what you might call an introvert. Putting myself out there, speaking my mind and generally making myself known does not come easy to me. But when it comes to your kids, you won’t have any trouble doing it even though it may not come naturally. They will be put in positions you don’t agree with or treated in a way that you cannot tolerate, so you need to be a presence in the school and make sure that things are going well and your child is thriving. Teachers don’t always see everything. They have 15 to 20 4-5-year-olds running around, so you can understand how one or two things might fall through the cracks.
In Ontario, you will need a vulnerable sector check if you want to volunteer for field trips or events at your kids’ school. And the field trips begin pretty much immediately, so if that is something you’d like to be involved in, I’d suggest getting that in order before school starts.
4. Packing lunch
You will start to wonder why you even waste your time packing lunch at all. They will eat nothing that you make and once you find your go-to lunch foods that they do like, they will change their mind and decide they don’t like it anymore. Leaving you scrambling trying to decide what to make.
Take the time before school starts to research easy and healthy lunch ideas, try them out before the school year begins and introduce your preschooler to some new things so that strange foods they have never seen before aren’t just showing up in their lunch box. Having a variety of things that they like and you can pack in there lunch will save you a lot of headaches and a lot of money in wasted food.
5. They’ll need to be relatively independent.
Have you ever required of them to get dressed entirely on there own, or go to the bathroom with absolutely no help from mom? They will be required to do so at school. A few weeks into JK for my oldest and the teacher took me aside and let me know that every time it was time to go outside to play, Tristan would bring his coat and snow pants, drop them in a heap in front of her and just look at her like ” well?” My face was a little red, but I knew that some work had to be done at home to help him develop some of his independence skills. From that moment on I asked that he get himself ready to go outside all by himself, there was a little push back, but he got it in no time and was incredibly proud of what he had achieved.
6. They will be very tired…and very cranky
Understandably. It’s a big transition and a long day. They are surrounded by people all day, playing hard and learning hard. You might have to make bedtime a little earlier during the school year to help counteract all this activity. Also, school is not mandatory until your little one is 6, so if you wanted to do only half days or a 4 day week, or whatever you want really, that is totally up to you. Tristan was home more then he was at school that first year, but whatever works for you or what you feel your child can handle is what you should do.
7. It will be emotional, for both of you
Of course, it will be emotional for you, your baby is growing up and going to school. It is a massive thing for your brain to comprehend, handing over the reins to an unknown entity and having them go out into the world. It will feel wrong and weird for quite some time, but it will also be emotional for them. Making new friends, interacting with the teacher, being away from Mom and Dad, it is a lot.
The first year for Tristan was a tumultuous one. He grew quite fond of his teacher, she was his security blanket, and substitute mommy. He made a best friend and started to get comfortable, then the next year, he had a new teacher, was moved to a new school (boundaries changed) and his best friend was gone. They all of a sudden have to deal with bigger issues, more complex relationships and loss in a way they never had to before. So it can be a challenge for everyone. Lots of support, hugs, kisses, and conversations (when they feel like talking) will be required.
Kindergarten Ready Checklist
Those were the biggest lessons I took away from our school experience so far, and knowing kids, Kai’s experience will be totally different and none of these will apply. But if you are a list maker and a checker of boxes, like I am. I have prepared a quick and easy checklist for you to be able to go over to help you with this decision.
Disclaimer ** This is meant to be a helpful resource and not intended to discourage anyone. Take this information with a grain of salt, only you know your child. These are good indicators that they are ready, but definitely not all are mandatory skills. A lot of these skills my son did not have when he entered school, but soon picked them up.
To Send or Not to Send?
In the end, we have to do what is best for our child and our family. School is on the horizon and Kai just does not seem to be ready. Then again, a lot can happen in 6 months. So my strategy for this time around is to keep an open mind and try and go with the flow and ultimately let Kai tell me what he is ready for.
It may not be exactly what I want, and it seems to be much more of a struggle for me this time around, but there will always be time to work, to make money and to do me, and as the saying goes, “they are only young once.”
What are your feelings as kindergarten approaches? Are you ready? Is your child ready or is one or both of you feeling hesitant and unsure? Let me know what you are doing to prepare and if there are any big lessons you learned that may be able to help other moms.
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