By Sarah Schmelling, mom of a kindergartner and a preschooler; Rockville, Maryland
1. A love of new things. He'll probably bring a lunch box for the first time and go on field trips to the post office or library. He may make his first best friends. Let's hope he passes along a love of novelty to his parents, who will experience things like their first school fund-raiser.
2. A box of tissues. For your child's teacher. Seriously. She probably spends a small fortune on wiping kids' noses, and she'll be grateful you recognize that.
3. Readiness to play. You will hear "sensory table," "dramatic play area," and "center time" from the preschool director, but your child will think "gigantic bin of rice and toys," "let's dress up as firemen princesses," and "time to build the hugest ninja block castle ever." Although it may appear he's "just playing," he's learning how to navigate the real world.
4. A family photo. Preferably, pick one that children won't find distracting to have staring back at them from the classroom wall for the rest of the year.
5. A change of clothes. Stow them in his cubby. The clothes should be seasonally appropriate and CLEARLY MARKED with your child's NAME!!! (Related: Get used to receiving ALL-CAPPED instructions and updates from school with many exclamation points!!!!!)
6. Not much else. Friends, the media, and strangers may say that by the end of this year, your child should be able to write his name, cut in a straight line, and possibly conduct a symphony and do your taxes. Turns out, his teacher will work with him so that he's ready for kindergarten and then some. Of course, whether or not you're ready is another story.