Fellow parents of soon–to-be-kindergartners, can we all just say it together now: HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
As I stare at the kindergarten registration packet in front of me, it hardly seems real. How can it be that the little itsy bitsy thing that we carried and coddled and snuggled, for whom we’ve struggled with sleepless nights, picky eating, scary first sicknesses, unbelievably maddening potty training trials… who we’ve watched go from a little squirming bundle, to a running, dancing, sassy little comedienne with her brave vocabulary and compassionate gentleness is ready for this? How can it be that the little seven pounder we rocked and swaddled now has her own sense of style (Cyndi Lauper comes to mind), her own opinions about the world, her own approach at making friends and co-parenting (as she sees it) her little brother? How can it be that it is really time for school?? For every day, bell-ringing, bus-taking, lunch-packing, school school?
(Parents of soon-to-be college students: How are you even functioning right now? Also, I know I need to get a grip).
It hardly seems true, and yet here we are. There is something about this particular milestone that makes it seem like we’ve just hit an acceleration point. Like from now on, it will just be a total blur and kindergarten will turn into first grade will turn into high school, will turn into leaving home for good. Basically, in my mind, my 5-year-old is getting her own apartment tomorrow.
On top of all of these emotions this next step brings, comes the worry about how she will actually do with this transition. I recently realized that I had no clue if she was actually ready for this. After all, I couldn’t remember what it had been like for me: It’s been thirtysomething years since I was in kindergarten, never mind that I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast this morning. So I’ve been scouring kindergarten readiness checklists to see if she has everything she needs for the big time. If you’re like me, you need some sort of bullet point list for just about everything, so it’s helpful to have a breakdown of the basics. It’s actually a little surprising to see what is considered being “ready.” Does she need to be able to read? No. But she should be able to listen to directions, count to 10, and catch a ball. I’ve been able to take just a little bit of comfort in seeing a realistic view that this is still actually little kid stuff, for the most part. (For an awesome interactive kindergarten checklist, check out our new kindergarten readiness app – it helps keep track her progress and gives great ideas for activities and games to practice each skill. It really helped me put everything into perspective and realistically see which skills we needed to work on.)
Is my kid ready? I really think she is. She’s got this.
Me, on the other hand? I need to figure out if I can make it through this without becoming a total basket case. Is there a checklist for that?
Cara Finnegan is the managing editor of FamilyEducation.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.