A few years ago I wrote an essay called “Five Things I Wish Every Parent Knew Before Sending Their Child to Kindergarten.” I was inspired by the five years I had spent teaching four and five year olds.
This week my son began kindergarten, and I thought I should examine my own list, make sure I had been doing my job as a parent and that my son was ready for kindergarten. After all, there’s a lot more to kindergarten readiness than identifying one’s own name, knowing colors and shapes, and recognizing letters and numbers.
- Basic skills are a necessity: crayons color paper, scissors cut only paper. Ryan knows how to cut paper, but I admit that he’s not the biggest fan of coloring. He’d rather read.
- Kindergarten kids need to wear clothes they can manipulate. Ryan wears pants with elastic waists, so there’s no fussing with zippers, snaps, or buttons. His shoes are Velcro which means he is self-sufficient at school.
- Kindergartners need to be responsible for basic hygiene: washing hands before eating and after restroom visits, drying hands on paper towels. Ryan is independent and knows he needs to do his part to stay healthy and strong.
- Waiting in line is a fact of life: At school, there will be lines for the water fountain, for the restroom, for getting a sticker from the teacher. From our visits to the market, the pharmacy, and Coffee Bean, Ryan understands that turns must be taken and sometimes lines move faster than others.
- No means no: Ryan is like every child I have ever taught. He will sometimes repeat his request, hoping that my answer will change from a “no” to a “yes.” It didn’t work for my students and it doesn’t work for my son.
On top of all that, Ryan knows our address, his full name, and has been reading since before his fourth birthday! As a former teacher, I know I’ve done my best at getting him ready for the year ahead. But, as a parent, I still hold my breath a bit each day as I send Ryan off on this new adventure.
By the way, the essay that inspired this blog was published in an anthology titled Beyond the Diaper Bag in 2011. All of the authors’ proceeds were donated to a charity called “The Mommies Network.” The book is available on Amazon; here’s the link: