Kindergarten Ready Checklist – To Send Or Not To Send?

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

kids-at-schoolDon’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.

3. Volunteering

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

lunchYou 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 yourempty-classroom 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.

Download your kindergarten ready checklist here

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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  • Tara
    February 12, 2020

    We tried sending our daughter early. She is a March 1st baby and was allowed to enter when she was 4 going on 5. She actually did well academically but the social emotional part of her was not developed enough and she struggled. We held her back another year and WOW what a difference. I agree that you really have to think of many aspects of the developing child when considering which age is best to send them to school. As parents, in the end, we just do the best we can.

    Love your site!

    • Charlotte
      February 12, 2020

      100%! We just do the best we can. I’m happy to hear your little one was able to thrive. Lucky girl that she had parents that were in tune with her needs and made sure to put her best interests first!

  • Aurelia
    February 12, 2020

    First I want to say I think your site is super cute. I love that your son describes his messes as lovely and that your site reflects your guys dynamic. I think this post is awesome for preparing everyone and letting them know what to expect. It is hard to know exactly what to expect when you’ve never been in a situation before and when it comes to children you always want to do your best and be one step ahead. Thinking ahead and teaching children some basics and independence are great steps to help them succeed intellectually and emotionally. Great post 🙂

    • Charlotte
      February 12, 2020

      Thanks so much! I know with my first son, we kind of lived in our own little world. It didn’t even enter my mind to start preparing him academically before school started. I wasn’t even thinking about school! It would have been helpful if I had known this. Thanks for your comment.

  • Stephen Barrow
    February 12, 2020

    Hi Charlotte. Thank you for the read. I am a father of 4 and grandfather of 6.Thank you for reminding me of the best way to look after children. I will forward your link onto my children. You have provided excellent information. It is never easy. The information you have provided just takes some of the quess work out. Again many thanks.

  • Cinderella
    February 12, 2020

    Kindergarten is the transition phase of a child’s life from home to school….the beginning of social interaction, preparing the child for great academic strides in years to come.

    Your post is of great help for first time moms as you have given them insights on what to expect and what to do as they prepare for their child’s kindergarten. Great job!

    • Charlotte
      February 12, 2020

      Thanks so much for the comment! I was helped out many times when I was a first-time mom, through blog posts and online forums, I sincerely hope I can do the same!

  • Heidi
    February 12, 2020

    This is great! I am a mom, my daughter is just over one, so she’s a little ways from entering school. But I bring the perspective of a first grade teacher! I left the teaching field to be a stay at home mom.

    I love the checklist you shared! If every child came into school prepared and equipped with the things you listed, they would be nearly unstoppable! That would help teachers immensely in helping all of the students along their kindergarten path.

    I also agree that helping your children learn to zip their jackets, tie their shoes, even blow their own noses can greatly help their teachers. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you have a line of 20 kids waiting on you to help them!

    Teachers really appreciate any insight you can share about your child specifically, as you said, you know them best! School can be an overwhelming experience, so helping your kiddos prepare in as many ways possible will be a great service to them.

    • Charlotte
      February 12, 2020

      I really appreciate you weighing in Heidi! I think it is important to support our teachers as much as possible, you guys really do have a tough job!

  • Deb Love
    February 13, 2020

    This is such great information. Im not so sure most people really assess the readiness this clearly. I did similar with my youngest of four who is a February baby. She was exceptionally mature and ready but we lived in Alberta Canada at the time and the cut off to enter school for the following Sept was 5yrs Feb 28. This was her birthday. I solved the issue by putting her into English Kindergarten for the social interaction and then moved her the next year to french – we live in Canada were immersion happened to be an option. Why did I do this? If she was to go into Scool as a very young 5 yr old she would always be the youngest. Similar to your situation. Socially she could handle it but not all children can . The other reason was that I did not want her to be entering university with all that gets exposed to the children a someone almost a year young than any one else. Had we lived in Ontario the choice would have meant she was one of the oldest in her classes all through school. Like you say you need to let it play out and see how each child develops,learns and socilaizes and decide what is in there best interest. Great article.

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