The Insider's Guide to School

What to Expect in Kindergarten

mother hugging child who is leaving for school

Dear kindergarten parents,

Take a deep breath. I swear, you won't get a call every day informing you that your child has run out of the classroom screaming "Mooooommy!" Even if you get this call just once, like I did, it will make you feel like a bad parent for not adequately preparing your offspring for the rigors of school. Don't fret: The transition to kindergarten can be tough on everyone. To get through, you may need to do some very hot yoga. Your child? She probably just needs a good midday snack. So pack good snacks.

If you ever forget to pack a snack, you will never hear the end of it. Ever.

From here on out, in this age of über-efficient technology, your most significant communication with your child's school will probably happen in a two-pocket folder that your 5-year-old brings home each day. When there is a note for you in the folder -- a permission slip, a reminder to send in box tops, a request to man the Pick-a-Pop booth during the pumpkin fair -- fill it out right away. Touch paper only once.

Keep in mind that some kids will start kindergarten not knowing how to read a single word while others will be reading chapter books. Kids typically level out in second grade, so stop Googling "reading tutors." Seriously. Step away from the computer. Now.

Assume that everything you say or do at home may be repeated to the kindergarten teacher. If not spoken, it can most definitely be drawn, and when the teacher offers to help write a caption for the picture, your child may say, "Mommy's Wine With Olives."

Whether or not you work outside the home, do not feel guilty if you can't attend all of the many daytime events you'll be invited to, such as "The 100th Day of School Party" or "Dr. Seuss's Birthday Party" or the four-minute Halloween parade. Yes, it's special for your child when you are there. But if you're always there, it could stop seeming special. Be involved as much as you can -- it keeps you in touch with your child's activities, and it's good for you. You'll meet the other parents whom you will likely be seeing at Back-to-School night for the next 13 years. You will make friends. Good friends. So bring a batch of brownies to the next PTA meeting and be nice.

Prepare yourself. This year, your child may come home from school with a wad of tissue in her hand, and when you open it up you'll find a teeny baby tooth inside. You will realize, maybe for the first time, that your child now has a life that you will not always be a part of. And you will feel very sad about this, and also very happy, all at the same time. So do what I did: Take another deep breath, pour a "wine with olives," and whisper to yourself, over and over: "Give her wings."

All best,
Vicki Glembocki, mom of a toddler, a first-grader and a third-grader; Westmont, New Jersey

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