Why is it so hard to be a Kindergarten parent?

(Just in case you were on vacation last week, my ex-husband and I have started writing a blog about co-parenting after divorce called When The Flames Go Up.)

Today's topic is Kindergarten. Specifically, why it's so hard to be the parent of a Kindergartner.

I know a lot of districts have gone back to school already, so some of
you are in your first or second week of Kindergarten. My kids don't go
back until September 8, but I notice I'm getting more and more tense as
it's time to go back.

I'm wondering what it is that makes Kindergarten so difficult, for them and for us,
especially since a lot of our kids have been in preschool or daycare for
at least a year before entering K. You'd think it would be the same
thing just at a new venue, but so often it's not.

* I think one big factor is that it may be our first big encounter with
The System. Daycares and preschools tend to be small, nurturing places.
They deal with toddlers and preschoolers and are sensitive to their
fears and individual needs. Part of their job is to guide us as
parents–if they notice things with our children they let us know and
give suggestions to help, and many preschools run regular parent
education programs to help deal with common issues.  Kindergarten isn't
like that. Your child is one of many (even if you luck out and have
small class size), and you're swept away by a system that has little
room for individuality. Teachers are under pressure to assess kids and
make sure they're hitting an ever-accelerating set of benchmarks, so
they don't have the time and freedom preschool teachers do to help kids with
emotional issues. The Industrial Revolution brought us cheap
automobiles, but it also brought us timetables and testing in Kindergarten.

* Kindergarten may be the complete wrong balance of independence during
transitions. Some Kindergartens require parents/caregivers to stay and
read with the child for 20 minutes at drop-off, which can be hard on
kids who do better just saying goodbye and having a firm separation.
Others have a firm goodbye at drop-off, which can be rough on kids who
need more transition. It's a crapshoot whether your Kindergarten's
goodbye system will match your kid's needs.

* Your child is growing up. A Kindergartner is in elementary school. Not a
baby, not a toddler, not a preschooler. Even if you think you're ok
with it, it can sneak in and make you really melancholy before you
identify it.

* More responsibility. Your child (in the US, at least) probably
has homework now, which will add another hour of work to your life every
night, at least. Plus lunch (or worrying about school food), clothes,
and all the other stuff. Allegedly your child is taking more
responsibility for gear, but that actually falls on your shoulders,

There are probably a ton of other factors, too. What do you think?

If you've already gone through Kindergarten with your child, how did it
go? Was it more difficult for you than previous years were? Why do you
think that is?

If you're in Kindergarten now or about to go in, how's it going? What are your fears?

If you've taught Kindergarten, what do you observe from that side of the experience?

My Kindergarten mom story:
Those of you who were reading me back three years ago may remember that
Kindergarten was extremely hard for my older son. At the beginning I
thought it was just part of the normal adjustment to Kindergarten (and
my having gone back to work full-time), but I soon realized that it had a
lot to do with the teacher, who I don't think should be working with
children at all. I got some criticism *here* for disliking her, which
still hurts. (There's another NYC blogger whose son went through the
same cruelty and incompetence at her hands the next year, so I know it
wasn't just me.) I still have a lot of hurt and anger toward her,
especially in light of that article saying that a good Kindergarten
teacher sets kids up for success, and resentment at the principal and
administration who stonewalled us. My son is slowly, slowly coming out
of his fear of teachers and school, thanks to two truly wonderful
teachers, a kind and down-to-earth aide, and the miracle principal of
his new school. But I don't think my son's ever going to see school as a
fun nurturing place, like he did in preschool before we had that
teacher who shouldn't be teaching. I don't know if I'll ever stop
resenting that school for taking that away from us.

My younger son is starting Kindergarten at this same new school this
year, and I have every reason to think that his teacher will be
wonderful, based on the other teachers we've had at the school. And I
know that the principal excels at conflict resolution, so even if there
is a mismatch it'll be fixed. But I still feel a stomach clench when I
think of Kindergarten. I am trying not to communicate that to him so
that he can go in with a positive attitude. But I don't think I'll be
able to relax until school's been in session for a few weeks, even if
his teacher is the ur-Kindergarten teacher.


87 thoughts on “Why is it so hard to be a Kindergarten parent?”

  1. We’re skipping kindergarten and keeping my son in Montessori. (I realize this is a luxury. And that we will have grade 1 issues instead.)When I toured our local (Toronto) kindergartens, which are in my area half-day although the province is gradually transitioning schools to full-day, I was just seriously unimpressed.
    The day here is 2.5 hours long, so we’d have to move daycare around. In that time they have 20 minutes of mandatory physical activity PLUS a recess plus a snack. When we added in transition time (shoes, boots, etc.) we figured there were 20 minutes of instructional/play time before recess and 40 minutes afterwards. So one hour.
    This is probably great for kids who haven’t been in a group setting before but my son’s been in all-day Montessori for 2.5 years and I guess I just felt it wasn’t going to add to his day enough for all the disruption.
    I’m reeling at the thought of homework in kindergarten.

  2. We’re in the same boat here. I think part of the angst is that we know a positive kindergarten experience sets the stage for a positive elementary school experience, happy middle schoolers, successful teens in HS, and ultimately the college graduate taxpaying confident excited adults we all hope our children will be someday in one form or another. That we all wish we were…Is there any means to relay the scared feelings transitions bring up, whether it’s the kindergartner or the adult starting a new job? Can we tell ourselves a different story of how it will be, what will happen when problems arise to have a different outcome than what it was when we were kids?
    I don’t have the answers but I know why we’re afraid-it comes down to not wanting our own children to have to re-live the terrible moments we did in our own childhoods, and knowing they probably will. We hope they’ll have the great friends, the fabulous inspiring teachers, the mentors that go that extra mile, the hobbies that keep them away from bad influences, etc. But in all likelihood they’ll meet with bullies, teachers who should’ve retired a decade ago, frustrated angry ill equipped people and peers-that’s life isn’t it?
    How do we teach them resiliency? Trust in a system that often isn’t worthy of it? Ew I sound so cynical but I think there’s some truth to it… I’ll try for a different outcome for my children, work toward it, try and live it, and we’ll see how it goes….

  3. My oldest is 4 and is doing 4 day 1/2 days preschool this year and will be doing K next year. I am seriously freaking out about it and am so glad to find out I’m not alone. A significant part of my terror is that within the next couple months I have to figure out how to navigate the gargantuan mess of the Chicago Public School system which is giving me major panic moments (particularly since I’m a month postpartum and my hormonal issues tend to give me anxiety rather than depression, so that’s great timing there). I also had major issues with schools myself as a child (2nd and 3rd grade public school teachers were wretched, my mom put my in Montessori for 4th and 5th which helped fix it but I am terrified that I might have to deal with that for my children). I am hoping some of this anxiety is hormonal and will go away in a few weeks as I readjust. Yargh.

  4. No homework at our school until 3rd grade. I was 100% positively looking forward to K start on Monday but then we found out the year will start with a long term sub and other parents moved their children out of the class because of it. So now I’m nervous. Also it seems like they should have sent us a policy manual by now. So I still don’t know basics like what time does school start? When does the bus pick up? Is there a ban on peanut products? What is the August lunch menu and how much does hot lunch cost and do we put $ into an account or does he carry it to school?

  5. I’m breathing into a paper bag over here. Kindergarten starts tomorrow.I had Chuckles signed up for full-day kindergarten but then when the whole Bobo thing happened and we got a nanny (who I have to pay no mater how many kids are in my house), so I switched him to half days because all-day is $1800/year (which is actually quite a bargain). So, he’ll go from 9 am to 11:45, five days per week. Our school has four kindergarten classes – 3 full-day and one half-day. We met his teacher. She sent him a postcard telling him she’s looking forward to having him in her class. He’ll have his kindergarten class plus “specials” (gym, music, art, computers, library). All of that in only 2 hrs 45 minutes. But the curriculum is the same for the half-day and the all-day so I fugre it’s just filler.
    Chuckles did a year of all-day Kindergarten last year at his day care (with homework and it was state accredited) so we theoretically could have sent him to 1st grade, but *I* am NOT ready for that. I’m barely able to send him to kindergarten. This is our first dealing with THE SYSTEM and THE SYSTEM isn’t set up for working parents. Day care catered to working parents. At day care, I saw the people caring for my kids every day. I will probably only see the elementary teachers a handful of times all year.
    There are lunch lines and lunch cards and buses and PTO and tiger cubs and gym class and Power Parent Portols for homework and grades now. It’s Big Time. And things are SO different from when I was in school. I have no frame of reference for any of this.
    As I said, I am breathing into a paper bag when no one is watching me.

  6. Even I, who once came begging the Moxites for their collective wisdomhttp://www.askmoxie.org/2008/09/oh-what-the-heck.html
    would say that overall, kindergarten is not a time of unbearable pressure. I think it’s of a piece with other new situations in that we need to evaluate what’s going on and how best to respond to it. Derailment and frustration and recovery keep happening, and permanent scarring and doom are pretty rare.
    Things turned out fine for me
    And when, the next year, we had another bad personality match (not for everything, luckily), we dealt. School is still a good thing.

  7. “I think one big factor is that it may be our first big encounter with The System. Daycares and preschools tend to be small, nurturing places… Part of their job is to guide us as parents… Kindergarten isn’t like that.”Sounds pretty awful the way you’ve painted us the picture. **If true**, why would anyone voluntarily subject their little 5-year-old to that? That’s why I’m not sure I necessarily agree with your brightline sentiment in all cases. I hope NYC K is not reflective of the way K is everywhere. (Look, what do I know, my kid won’t start for 3 years and I live in podunkville where by all accounts our public schools are pretty nurturing and people actually care.) @Moxie, I also know you probably still carry some unwarranted guilt about your older son’s K experience which you’ve said is coloring your view. I’m not saying it’s all rainbows and unicorns but perhaps it isn’t so bad afterall? Maybe the reality is somewhere inbetween?

  8. @Rayne of Terror – This is exactly how I felt 2 weeks ago. Then we registered and I was given a MOUND of paperwork and a handbook, calendar, manual, etc.But all of those things are kept pretty quiet. Not all of it was available on the school’s website. I ended up calling the office and they told me there was a tour for new parents/kids we could attend (but it wasn’t publicized). I feel so much better since that. I would scour the school’s website and then call them.

  9. Slim, K might not be a time of unbearable pressure for *you*. But it was really, really awful for us. And permanent, probably not. But we’re just coming out of the mess that first year gave us three years later. Three years is a long time when the person in question has only been alive for eight years. I’m glad that you haven’t had the same tears, nightmares and anxiety dreams, and morning hopelessness that we have.If there was any way for me to homeschool, it would absolutely have been the best thing, and probably still would be for my older one. School’s not a good thing for everyone.

  10. I think this is what makes August so cranky. Kids and adults are both thinking about back to school and the unknowns. Be careful if you’re driving in the school parking lot at meet the teacher or the first day of school – it’s a madhouse and nobody is looking where they are going (pedestrians and drivers both.)I’ve had two very different kindergarten experiences. Well, in both, the teachers were really good (nice + competent) and cared about the kids and wanted them to do well.
    The first, it turns out that the deck was kind of stacked against him – he wasn’t well prepared (at age 3-4, check your school district’s web site to get a list of things kids should know before they start kindergarten. If they’re going to a good daycare/pre-k program, chances are the kids will get most of it there.), and he was extra wiggly/daydreamy and ended up being diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager. He got through kindergarten because he’s bright and I spent time working on stuff he should have learned in pre-k, at night, but barely. I tell you what, parent teacher conferences like that are just about the worst – it’s like getting a bad job review for a job you didn’t even do, especially because I was (naively) expecting to go in and hear, “He is a delight, I wish I had 17 more just like him.”
    He’s in 11th grade now, and I’m freaking out a little about that because as he walks down the driveway to go to the bus stop I have flashbacks of him being 6 and getting out of the car at the car-riders line in first grade. One of my regrets is that we spent so much of the drive to school (then) talking about trying to behave and staying on green. I should have recognized that most kids aren’t trying to get in trouble on purpose and after a certain point, if he could have stayed on green more, he would have.
    My second kindergarten experience is radically different. She had taken a pull-out phonics program in daycare since age 3, had a good pre-k (state subsidized VPK) program at the same daycare, and was well prepared for kindergarten. Her parent teacher conferences were all good – she could be a little better reader, but I think she’s at a point where practice will smooth out the rough spots (she had been at a spot where the stories she could read were boring, but the interesting ones were too hard).
    We found out recently that the 2 1/2 year old’s best friend at daycare lives not far from us so they’ll be attending kindergarten together. And so will another girl in our neighborhood, who is 6 months younger than them. I’m totally spending time looking forward to the three of them enjoying kindergarten together – having big kid adventures.

  11. K was a breeze and a delight for my only-slightly-socialized (6 hour/week preschool) older child, but rather a nightmare year – and, to date the only nightmare year with this, now 19 1/2 year old child – for my younger, more socialized (30 hours a week preschool child.)I attribute most of this to the fit with the teachers. Older child’s teacher was both awesome _and_ (more importantly than awesome) a good fit for her needs. Younger child and her teacher were at loggerheads from day one and it only got worse.
    The teacher dug in her heels on having this march-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer child get in step with the classroom; younger child is stubborner than a pack of mules, but easy-peasy if you work with her, rather than against her.
    Younger child has never suffered fools lightly nor been willing to waste her time on earth involved in things she sees as a waste of time; this makes life a bit tougher for her. As an early and avid reader, she wanted to spend her time reading; teacher wanted her to participate willingly in endless hours of pre-reading exercises.
    Her first grade and second grade teachers had a reputation among the parents for being weak reading teachers (“don’t let your kid get Mrs. N”…. as if you had a choice!) They, overwhelmed as they were, were quite happy to let her sit in a cozy spot and read to her heart’s content. Grades 1 and 2 were very good years…!
    This tension between guiding her own learning and towing the line in the classroom remained until her senior year; but I figured she was sure to end up educated in the end.
    In retrospect, I probably should have gone with my gut and put her in a Sudbury Valley type school (well, in this case, THE Sudbury Valley School.) I don’t think their model is good for all children, but it seemed tailor made for my younger!
    So long story on why K was hell for one child, but not too many lessons to be learned except take the long view.

  12. Hush, what’s the option? I can’t keep my kids home, and I can’t afford private school, so all I can do is try to fight my way through the system the best I can.I’m *sure* my views are colored by being in NYC. Last year a friend’s child didn’t have a spot in K. No spot. It’s big and scary.

  13. Kindergarten was actually a wonderful experience for both my girls. They attend a private school, which is bigger than their daycare was but not huge (2 classes per grade, K-8). Before my first daughter started we had the opportunity to meet the teachers, in the spring at information night, in late summer for an ice cream social and then a 1.5 hour day when the kids went to the classroom to get used to it and the parents got to know each other and the principal. For us, the kids were familiar with the school since it is attached to our church so in many ways it was not new to them. They both had the same K teacher who was warm, loving, funny. They had 1 piece of homework a week (write on a theme (dictated to parents at the beginning written by the kids near the end of the year) and illustrate it with a drawing). Our school does no standardized testing until 2nd grade and no tests at all in K. My oldest was a bit nervous, she always has trouble with new situations, but the youngest went in like she owned the place, probably due to the fact that she’d been hanging out there for 3 years because of her older sister. I was a bit nervous at first for my older girl, but that dissipated in the first few days. We did have to be much more organized to get her to school on time and to make sure she had everthing. Overall, it was really, really wonderful. They both learned a ton, made really good friends and loved/love going to school.

  14. Ugh. *Neurotic parent warning!* Kindergarten has been the bane of my existence for the last year and my daughter doesn’t even start until the 7th. It started with searching for a school that would best fit her, applying places, being waitlisted, transportation, having to make decisions without all the information and just general angst (read: MY BABY!).Complicating this matter is the fact that my daughter is so young, she only turned 5 yesterday. I can’t even count the number of hours that went into researching whether I should hold her back a year. A big part of my reservation is that now, with all the preschools around and K being almost exclusively full day in many districts, Kindergarten is now essentially 1st grade. They are losing a gentle introduction and instead being thrown into a more rigorous structured day. Ultimately I am going against my gut (my gut tends to be really, really selfish) and listening to everyone else from my husband and parents to every teacher she’s ever had. They are all 100% assured she is more than ready for K.
    I think @leah hit it right when she said a big part of it is projecting the negative school experiences we had, on our kids. I’m honestly terrified about how she’ll adjust even though she has a history of being extremely adaptable in school situations.
    A big part of it is also putting my trust in an institution (public school as a whole, not her particular Kindergarten)that hasn’t exactly earned my trust. The System IS scary to a newbie K parent, especially to someone who is not confident in new situations.
    I’ve made some peace with this by promising myself that I will be her champion. To support her, cheer her on and step in for her even if I look like an idiot (I’m going to go ahead and guess I will be more often than not). It’s just so important to me that this first introduction to school goes well for her. Education is so important to us and we want her to love learning.
    I’m really hoping the lead-up is way worse than life once we’re in the thick of it. (PLEASE?) Can’t wait to see what you K experienced Moxites have to say about this.

  15. “There are lunch lines and lunch cards and buses and PTO and tiger cubs and gym class and Power Parent Portols for homework and grades now.” Um, yeah, I’d have the paper bag out, too.The being the youngest of students in an environment with lots of transitions throughout the day – that’s what would be nerve wracking for me on his behalf and part of why I didn’t put T in the pre-k 3 program attached to the k-8 private school this year. It was a (relatively speaking) HUGE campus with two playgrounds and separate buildings for a music room and art room and gymnasium/cafeteria.
    OMG – just no. Not yet.

  16. I don’t know if it’s kindergarten per se or just the age/stage in general.I am finding 4 going on 5 REALLY HARD, and for me kindergarten is a godsend for both of us.

  17. Moxie, I hope I didn’t sound as though I was saying “Our experiences are different, and therefore yours must be invalid.” That’s not what I mean at all.But there are a lot of great school districts out there, a lot of great schools, and a lot of kids for whom this is a great adventure (cue Lou Reed, who I think represents the ideal parent for all of us, no?).
    I know I am lucky. I just don’t think I’m the only one.

  18. I’m just putting my fingers in my ears and humming. E is 2 and I can’t quite cope with all this info. Good luck to everyone at the K threshold!

  19. @Moxie – Whoa, I didn’t mean to say you made the wrong choice at all! Far from it.What I was suggesting was that your family’s hellish, awful K experience in NYC is perhaps making you generalize about something many children in the country do experience positively – and you just sounded way, way more negative and convinced that this thing just sucks, way more than you usually would about anything parenting-related. Imagine that instead of writing that way about K, you had instead had a bad “daycare” experience, and therefore concluded the environment of daycares in general is inherently not nurturing and not helpful to parents? Not true everywhere for everyone, just as it is not true about K. I hope you’re feeling me and know that I am not saying you did anything wrong or that there was some other option you should have pursued!! I think understandably this is unfinished business for you. You have my support!

  20. I have an infant, so awhile before I have to worry about this. However, as a mental health professional who has worked with children for years, I just want to note:1) The start of school is usually a stressful time for children. How stressed were you on the first day of a new job? For kids, it is like starting a new job every year.
    2) Homework in kindergarten is a waste of everyone’s time. It does nothing to enhance learning, and may even be slightly harmful. And this is not my opinion; research has confirmed the fact.

  21. We started kindergarten last week, and aside from navigating the bureaucracy and “learning the script” as my husband likes to put it, I think it’s going well.My son had been in daycare/pre-k/summer camp at the same place since he was 6 months old, so there was a big change with going to a new (real!) school and meeting new kids.
    His pre-k program really talked up kindergarten, and we got him really excited about it too. I think they prepared him very well for the transition to the classroom.
    His new teacher seems nice, the homework is the same sort of stuff he had in pre-K (and he loves to do “activities”). It took a few days to get the morning bus sorted out, but that’s done now. Getting up earlier and eating breakfast at home is down to a routine.
    We have a curriculum night tomorrow, and I’m interested to see what’s in store.
    No tears from me, but I’ve never been terribly sentimental.

  22. Both of my boys had good kindergarten experiences, but I had a friend who got the bad* K teacher at our school. Her son used to cry until he threw up EVERY MORNING because he was so scared of school. She finally got him moved to another room (the teacher and the principal were BFFs, and the principal was loathe to move him, because he “needed to tough it out.”) and he thrived.*I say “bad,” not because she was bad at teaching per se, but because BY HER OWN ADMISSION she “hated” boys (especially active boys, so, you know, BOYS) and would prefer to have a class of all girls. Every mom of boys in our district hates her. She has no business teaching kindergarten.

  23. Kindergarten kind of kicked my ass even though we had a great experience. Mouse goes to an urban public school, and yes, it’s possible to get totally effed in the SF school lottery…but we did not. Our first choice was considered a 2nd or 3rd-tier school, doesn’t tend to attract competitive parents, so we got in.Mouse handled it like a champ from the start, and I do think a lot of that had to do with her teachers, both preschool and kinder. She went to a wonderful preschool that was essentially the proverbial benevolent dictatorship – and where the director considered her primary relationship to be with the kids rather than the parents. Apparently this is unusual, but it helped our transition to K a lot – we weren’t used to daily updates from adults on how Mouse was doing, we were used to talking to her about it. (I’ll just note, we could always talk to the teachers if needed, and they’d talk about things when needed, but there wasn’t a whole giant structure of constant parent-teacher communication to mask the need to develop kid-parent communication.) So that was great, we got way more information at the beginning, directly from Mouse, than most of our friends. And she lucked into a brilliant fit with her K teacher – I know it could absolutely have gone to heck if she hadn’t. She got a super-groovy second-career teacher who had years of experience but a real perspective on the curriculum, happens to be a jazz DJ on the side, used all of that in his teaching…and is there because he loves it AND because the school is really diverse, has the support of some fundraising to have professional help in the classroom so he can do differentiated instruction. So whoopee yay, that was all the luck part and man am I grateful!
    The part that kicked my ass was how much public schools expect of parents in terms of meetings, fundraising and other things that IMO are mostly nonsense and wouldn’t be needed if we had a funded, properly functioning system. (This is probably where the benevolent dictator didn’t train us – you paid your money, you packed a lunch, you dropped your kid off with a cheerful hello and that was all you ever had to do.) Given the needs the school had, and the fact that I suspect we’re one of the wealthiest families in the school (thereby having much more fruitful fundraising contacts than many) and we have some pretty useful tech skills…AND there’s a certain amount of anxiety that the school’s going to be gentrified and changed for the worse by people like us…we felt we really needed to do our part and do it visibly. And we did, but man it was exhausting. I had no idea when I started how much time could be spent on The System or even the parts that should be easy to change because they’re under local control.
    So yeah. Take heart you guys, there will be a lot of good adjustments out there! I’m wishing for great teachers for everyone. (Mouse seems to have scored again for 1st grade, which started Monday – thank you thank you thank you universe!)

  24. Hush and Slim, I’ve gone back and reread my post, and aside from the part about my personal experience, I don’t think it’s that negative, just realistic. The fact is that it *is* a system, as many other posters have said. There are forms and procedures and lines and fundraisers and committees and it’s just not at all like preschool or daycare.I didn’t write this post because *I*’m freaked out (although I freaked myself out more by writing the post, for sure), but because I was hearing from people in other districts that have already started about how it is really kicking their asses. It’s the “going into a system” that seems to be doing it for people the most. A few of us have had bad teachers, yeah, but it’s all the myriad details. I think I’m lucking out about that because I already trust the system at our school and already know what I’m in for.
    I wish we just all lived in little towns with little schools that would take care of us.

  25. My child began kindergarten…today. I can tell he’s excited, and I’m nervous and I’m trying to pretend like I’m not overwhelmed (at least in front of my child). I know I’m doing a lot of second guessing today, partly because this is the both the culmination and the beginning of discovering whether we’ve made good choices for our son.

  26. Our oldest started K a few weeks ago at a wonderful public “continuous education calendar” (read: year-round) school and her only real adjustment problem so far has been the transition from 3 days of school to 5. I have to admit that *I’m* overwhelmed by the number of parental obligations, especially since our littlest isn’t quite 3 months old yet. But the school has some good conflict resolution policies and lets us request specific teachers so I was less worried going in than I would have been otherwise.

  27. My son is too young for K, but I can totally anticipate the melancholy and jitters I’m going to have when he does start.However, I wanted to share that when I was in 1st grade (which was my first year in school as we didn’t have K way back then in my town), I had a HORRIBLE teacher. She absolutely should not have been teaching children of any age. One of the things she did when we were “bad” was she shut us in the classroom’s storage room, which was dark (though it did have a window on the door so we could see the light from the classroom). It was carpeted, too, so at least we weren’t on the cold dirty floor, but it was scary.
    My parents were eventually able to help get her removed from our county system and I had awesome teachers after that and learned to love school.
    Moxie, the fact that you stood up for your son and will continue to do so is awesome. I felt so empowered that my parents believed me and worked to make the situation better. Even if it took awhile, it was great to know that a bad situation didn’t have to stay that way. And I learned that it’s OK to question authority. I still think that’s a great lesson to have learned. (Even if it did land me in the Principal’s office on occasion.)

  28. La la la… I’m not listening… Seriously. This is a couple of years off for us, and I just can’t even begin to process what a big change it is going to be for our family in so many ways!(I’m not totally sticking my head in the sand- we do have plans to visit the public school closest to us in the fall, to check it out. It is a magnet school and is Spanish immersion, and we love the idea of sending our kids there in principle, but need to see if we actually like the school in practice… and then yeah, who knows if we’ll get in, since it is a magnet school and they don’t give priority to neighborhood kids. I think the “regular” public school that we’re zoned for will be fine, too, so I’m trying not to get my heart set on the one down the street.)
    But geez, this post and comments make me glad I don’t live in NYC. How can they not have a kindergarten spot for someone? How is that even legal???
    And @Moxie, I just wanted to say I’m sorry your son had such a crappy kindergarten experience. I hope things keep getting better for him. If I did my math right, he is about to enter 3rd grade, right? My Mom taught 3rd grade at the end of her career (before that, she taught 1st grade). She really liked teaching 3rd grade- she said by that time almost all the kids were actually ready to be in school and you could do a lot of fun things with them. So maybe this will be the year that turns things around for him with respect to school?

  29. @Cloud, are we in the same neighborhood in San Diego or are there a lot of Spanish immersion charter schools here?! I’m in Bay Park!

  30. My oldest starts K a week from today. Its a huge school but supposed to be good. she is terrified. Her best friend just moved overseas so will not be with her, the only ones she knows going there are the 2 ‘mean girls’ (well, high maintenance loud bossy girls), and she’s been in a really good nurturing day care for the past 3 years.and it starts at freaking 7:50 in the morning. and I had a terrible elementary school experience–the weird hippy kid in a school full of professor’s children. I’m trying not to project it on her. But she is definitely a girl who marches to her own drummer and (unfortunately) doesn’t believe in rules. andK teachers need rules. she’s pretty bright I think, has a great vocabulary, gets along well with others, but she doesn’t do rules. Or cleanup.
    My son will be easier I think, but that is years away and I have to get my quirky, artsy daughter through first.

  31. Wow!! Kindergarten here in Italy is nothing like what you have described Moxie. I have realised that ‘Kindergarten’ is obviously not a perfect translation considering the age of the kids ( mixed classes of 3-6 year olds) It is more like a cross betwen a preschool, creche and classic kindergarten.Italian kinders are a pressure-free environment. No homework!! No formalised teaching of literacy or numeracy, loads of play and music and similar to Tools classrooms, ‘themes’ that last all year round. Last year, for example, the theme was ‘Castle life’ and they looked at it from every angle imaginable: how they dressed in the middle ages; what they ate ( they had a ‘medieval lunch’ where they ate drum sticks served to them by waitresses in COSTUME with their hands!; the transport used, etc etc. They visited a couple of important local castles and dressed up as their favourite character from the Middle Ages for Carnival ( our Halloween equivalent). Fun Fun Fun. No bums on seats.
    My 5.5 y.o obviously loves going. My 3.5 year old is starting in September and can not wait. Ok, so my 5.5 year old doesn’t’ read yet but (ok, I know I have harped on enough about it, folks)remember this thing about intrinsic motivation?

  32. Actually I realized in stating that K was the only bad year my younger daughter ever had, I had forgotten (!) her really unpleasant Age 3 – a year when she was generally rather unpleasant, as opposed to K when she was just delightful as long as you weren’t pushing her buttons. Just for the sake of historical accuracy.

  33. I really had a hard time with the kindergarten transition last year. My daughter was fine with the class and did fairly well overall, but I did get told that I had babied her too much and she didn’t have independence skills (at age 5!!) even after 2 years of half day programs. I still can’t talk about all the angst we dealt with because her teacher was mad she had problems with getting on her snowpants at the beginning of winter.Full day kindergarten was especially a shock due to having to work extremely hard to get them to take to peanut allergy seriously. The peanut free table was often a joke, they used unsafe food in the curriculum and class parties made me want to cry. The activity to make gingerbread houses was so poorly managed that I can’t think about it to this day without wanting to scream. I am not looking forward to next week when I get to try again with a different teacher.

  34. I don’t blame you for being anxious when you take into account what happened the first time around.I was a bundle of nerves when I sent my eldest to kindergarten. Not only was it my first time but I had to deal with getting him all the special services that he needed and making sure that he had a Para in the classroom to help him keep on track and with physical things that he could not do. I could not help but winder if he would make it or not, but we had wonderful people at the school who helped reassure me. He had a wonderful year.
    Next fall I get to send my middle child to kindergarten and I doubt I will even blink an eye at it. He does not have the special needs that my eldest has and he has been learning to warm up quickly to adults through his preschool experiences. I will cry when my youngest goes in, but that is because he is my baby and I don’t want him to grow up so fast.

  35. My turned-4-in-July son Dillo started PreK in the public school (small southern city, fairly high-poverty environment) last week, joining his older sister Casper, who’s in second grade and whose birthday is 3 days before the state cutoff, making her the youngest in her year, pretty much. I was sore afraid at the transition for Dillo, since he’s been in a small Montessori-based daycare since he turned 2, and he is (used to be, I guess) a classic “slow to warm up” and shy kid. We always say he’s a “sensitive new age boy,” not a rough and tumble type. It’s gone SO WELL. There’s a great benefit to him and the parents of already having a kid in The System – Dillo has run down the hallways at Curriculum Night for 2 years, and he’s now in After School with his sister, which tickles both of them. A lot of the other PreKs have pretty obviously never been away from home before – lots of tears and scaredness. The teacher is very experienced and rolls with it. (She told me they hit the cry record on Thursday, with 7.) Most of the families we are a demographic match for – upper middle class professionals – skip PreK and start at K, but I’m glad we did it (and not just for the savings in daycare, though it helps.)Public School in both of the small cities I have experienced it in is definitely a system, and it’s one that parents have little experience with until their first kid starts. But like any bureaucratic system (remember starting college, or a new job?), you get to know it, you network with other parents, and surprisingly quickly it becomes YOUR system, and a primary center of your social life. I loved seeing all the kids I know finding their new classrooms on the first day of school! I’d missed ’em over the summer, when everyone scatters to different activities. There are idiot bureaucratic things (Girl Scouts can’t meet at school any more, because the district is charging all groups a $75 fee per meeting to use the school buildings), but there’s also a community. And no, you don’t HAVE to volunteer (I happen to work PTO nights – no meetings for me!).

  36. My 6yo twins are in 1st grade now, but we had a wonderful kindergarten experience. They went from 3 half-days/week preschool (no daycare) to full-day 5 day/week kindergarten. I was a bit hesitant at first with the full-day, but I’m SO GLAD I chose it. There was plenty of transition time and the atmosphere was so relaxed. My friends with kids in half-day programs felt like they were rushing to get their academics in. Plus, our school had time for art, music, gym, computers, library, etc.There was not a lot of homework (and still isn’t for 1st grade). In kindergarten, we got a packet of 5-6 worksheets (letter writing, some math, some cutting/pasting/matching) on Friday and they were due the next Thursday. There was periodic testing of sight words so we reviewed those regularly, probably a couple times a week. There were 2 bigger projects – drawing a map of their room and making a poster of their favorite animal with pictures and facts. An hour a night seems insane, Moxie. Ours was two or three 10-20 minute sessions per week, sometimes longer with harder concepts or the bigger projects.
    One of my daughters took to school like a duck to water and never looked back. The other had a slightly rougher transition with stomachaches and tears as they were dropped off. Her teacher was AWESOME once I talked to her about it – very encouraging and accommodating and kept us informed via email/conferences on how she was doing. We finally figured out that she missed her twin sister, so they were allowed to wait together at after school pick-up and pop in to say hi to each other whenever they wanted. She had a tough first month, but then only occasionally was anxious/sad at school. This year she couldn’t wait for school to start and we’ve had no anxiety or stress.
    I work part-time on the weekends, so I was able to volunteer for “workshop time” and got to know the kids and teachers. That went a LONG WAY toward relieving my stress. I loved learning all the kids names and seeing how the classroom functioned so I could ask better questions than “How was your day?”
    This year my stress level is significantly decreased. I know a lot of the kids, I can match parents and kids, I like their teacher (they’re together this year in a high achievers class), I know my way around the school and how to use the lobby guard thing . . . I’m not the new person anymore. I HATE being the new person and not knowing the spoken/unspoken group dynamics.

  37. Both of my kids LOVED kindergarten from the very start. But it was a weird transition for me. In preschool, the teachers are working for you, but in elementary school, you are definitely working for the teachers. Just a different vibe…..

  38. I have very mixed feelings about U.S. public schools. By many accounts, I think our school system is broken. I know that teachers are underpaid and the majority of them are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given. Because of class size and standardized testing, they really have no time for anything outside of a certain norm.But a lot of kids fall outside of that norm. Kids who are slow to transition, or need more physical activity in order to be able to concentrate.
    As Stephanie wrote, homework isn’t useful (I would argue it’s become excessive for *all* of the grades) and because children go home to different environments (some have parents who can and want to engage them in their homework, some don’t), it automatically puts them on different playing fields.
    I think school is wrapped up in emotions from our own schooling experiences (negative for many, many people) and in knowing our kids. My son has SPD. He’s very bright, but doesn’t always respond if you speak to him directly. It took him 6 months longer than any of his friends to transition from the 2-year-old classroom to the 3-year-old classroom.
    My options are: unschooling, homeschooling, or an alternative school like Montessori ($$). I honestly don’t think he can be successful in a traditional public school setting. At least not for the first several years. I really don’t know what we’re going to do.

  39. As Paola says about Italy, kindergarten in Denmark is nothing like the U.S. experience, and for that I am very grateful.They start in preschool at age 3 (start the month they turn 3, no matter when in the year it is), and stay until the year they turn 6.
    From January to summer before, they have one morning a week at the regular school, to get used to it.
    Then the first week of “Zero grade,” a teacher from the preschool accompanies them. All day the whole week.
    THEN they start “Zero grade,” or kindergarten class, where I believe they have a workbook in which they have to do X amount every week, but not take home.
    Official first grade is when most kids are 7 years old, but I think kindergarten is required.
    No one is expected to read before 1st grade. If they do before, no problem. But it is not pushed in kindy.
    I know I’m lucky. It’s one of the major things that would make me really hesitate about moving back to the states, if there were some other reason to do so, like a job offer that’s too good to refuse.
    Best of luck to all of you, and I know despite all I’ve just bragged about, I’ll be a wreck when my BABY goes to school.

  40. My daughter did the K curriculum at her Montessori day care last year and will be going into a public Montessori classroom this year at the age of 5. I’m incredibly nervous about it. I’m afraid the teacher will resent her for coming in young. I’m afraid she won’t be a good fit and will forget, as Moxie said, that school is fun. I’m afraid I won’t have time for all the homework and piddly crap; I barely do now, at a private day care where all I do is make lunch, drop off, and pick up. I’m afraid being young will make her stand out even more than being a minority. I’m afraid she won’t have cool clothes (this is the projection part; I am a big dork.)But honestly, it’s likely she’ll be okay. Right?

  41. The end of kindergarten is when we got our son diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We’ve been working so hard to get him ready for first grade in two weeks, and really — he isn’t really socially ready for kindergarten yet. I wish I was worried about how he would do in kindergarten, again.

  42. @ML – I researched a presentation on this about 2 years ago, so my references are not up to the minute, but you can see the article by Cooper & Valentine “Using Research to Answer Practical Questions About Homework” (2001, Educational Psychologist, 36). In general, the benefits of homework increase as the students get older, like junior high and high school.You may also interested in “The Hurried Child” by David Elkind.

  43. My 5yo son has been in Montessori for almost 2 years, first pre-K, then K. This year, he’ll be in public kindergarten half-days and continue Montessori 3 half-days. He tends to have trouble adjusting to new situations, so we figured this overlap would work well for him.I’m ok with it so far, but assume I’ll have a meltdown (minor, I hope) after we drop him off for his first day of public K.
    We moved to this town because the schools are supposed to be All That, and the signs are pretty good. His new K teacher already called to make sure she had his name right on his cubby and paperwork and so on (his nickname is a little unusual), which I think speaks well for her.
    I’ll need to join the PTO for my own peace of mind, and I am sooooo not a joiner. I’ll also be volunteering at both schools to help us all understand more.
    So we’ll see. I’m eager to read about everyone else’s experiences.

  44. I am SOOOO blessed that we are able to homeschool. Reading these comments made me a bit sick to my stomach. My DD (who would be starting K this month) is a quiet, smart, shy girl. Here in Florida– The Land of the All Powerful FCAT — she would be left in the dust. Instead, she is reading at a 2nd grade level and still has time to play in the pool with her friends. I know not everyone has the opportunity to homeschool, but it is perfect for us.

  45. What’s up with the school supplies?The list is a mile long. We have HIGH property taxes and they increased the sales tax to go to the schools and we have to furnish our own Kleenex? Seriously?
    Here is the list for public school Kindergarten:
    1 Book bag (big enough to zip a folder and other items inside)
    1 Pair of over the ear headphones
    2 boxes of 24 count Crayola crayons (No Rose Art please)
    1 box of #2 pencils (pre sharpened)
    40 glue sticks — (I really hope this is a typo)
    1 pair blunt tip Fiskar scissors
    1 box classic color markers
    2 reams white copy paper
    1 box of facial tissues
    1 bottle of Hand Sanitizer
    1 set of water color paint
    1 pink pearl eraser
    1 bottle of Elmer’s glue
    1 wrapped pack of colored construction paper (No pads of construction paper)
    1 box plain band aids
    1 pack of small white paper plates
    1 pack of large white paper plates
    1 bag of brown paper bags
    1 bag of cotton balls
    1 box of gallon Ziplocks
    1 box of quart size Ziplocks
    1 box of baby wipes
    1 box of thick dry erase markers
    1 box of thin dry erase markers

  46. “I wish we just all lived in little towns with little schools that would take care of us.”I live in a little town with a little school. Our little school has no foreign language education – starts in 7th grade. When I asked, “Why so late?” the Superintendent said, “We’re all Americans – our kids don’t *need* Spanish. They need (wood)shop.”
    Our little school is run by a mafia of Christian conservative PTO moms that bully the principal, have questioned my decision to work outside the home and the “meaning” of the bumper stickers on my car…
    It isn’t all good here in the heartland. Little towns with little schools don’t hold any more promise of a good K (or educational) experience than big city/urban schools. There can be a lot of little minds in little towns.

  47. I know there are lots of kids who can’t afford any school supplies, and I am happy to help them. But Holy Crap is right!

  48. @Ann – Ours wasn’t quite that “all-encompassing” (and to my mind, that’s about $70 worth of stuff), but our list was similar, especially with respect to name brands. We were told to buy Kleenex (not tissues, not Puffs, no lotion, please), Zilpoc bags (not Target zipper seal bags, and why?), pink pearl erasers (I’m not even sure what that is), Crayola crayons (no Rose Art), and Clorox wipes (not Lysol).And what’s with all the hating on Rose Art? I love Rose Art school supplies. I also am quite fond of Target zipper bags, Target disinfecting wipes, and Target tissues, so this name brand thing is kind of killing the frugal part of me.

  49. @Ann, be sure & check with your teacher whether all those supplies are actually needed – our school sent out a generic “what to have for school” list last fall and of course we bought it all…but it turned out we didn’t need to bring any of it, the classroom was fully stocked.

  50. RoseArt crayons are pretty terrible. Waxy and not very brightly colored. Their markers and things are decent though.And Kleenex are way, way better than any other tissues (says the allergy sufferer), but I don’t know that it matters at school. Although I do get the no scented, no lotion request.
    I do wonder if a lot of parents send in dollar store or the like brands of things which often aren’t very good or are very small. Meijer brand zipper bags work well and are a lot cheaper, but I’m sure there are even cheaper brands of zipper bags that don’t actually close. I would guess that it is easier to specify namebrand than to know what of each is acceptable.
    We have a year before Kindergarten. I’m actually really looking forward to it.

  51. Oh, we always had to supply our own tissue in grade school back when I was a kid, so the request to send in tissues doesn’t concern me at all. I know my mom used to send me in with some tiny box like a purse pack because we didn’t buy tissues so she probably had no idea what was standard (we just blew our noses on (clean, unused) toilet paper). I buy tissues for my house now, but when I go to her house, I still have to blow my nose on toilet paper.

  52. @ Ann & others – I am curious – does each parent get charged with buying 40 of a particular thing? (ie. Ann has to buy 40 glue sticks, another family has to buy 40 boxes of kleenex? Is that how this works?)I want to be mentally prepared 4-ish years from now!

  53. Our school supply list actually said this:Last names
    A-H: One box Ziploc brand (no generic) sandwich size bags
    I-R: One box Ziploc brand (no generic) quart sized storage bags
    S-Z: One box Ziploc brand (no generic) gallon sized storage bags
    So, I assume this will be communal and the children will share their zippered bags with one another for whatever things it is that they need these zippered bags.

  54. Regarding school supplies, a good friend who teaches told me that the list is so long because many parents just completely ignore it, and bring nothing. So basically the rest are picking up the slack! And I think they ask for brand names because too many people get the crap from the Dollar stores. Luckily have one more year to stress about K, and then I will be living overseas, so the choices will concern DOD Schools or home schooling.Moxie, the same thing happened to a good friend in Michigan (at one of thoes fabulous small schools) where her daughter had a terrible teacher for first grade, and now in 5th grade, doesn’t like or excel in school. It really can scar a child.

  55. @Peanut’sMom – “Little towns with little schools don’t hold any more promise of a good K (or educational) experience than big city/urban schools.” Totally! No where is utopia, unfortch. I hear you on the small town uber-Christian bullying thing. I keep my cards close and find it hard to be my authentic self because it is so threatening to the people here. Which sucks. I guess you take the good with the bad wherever you are. The good: I’m not worried about class size. The bad: No meaningful diversity, and no real intellectuals. If public schools are supposed to be laboratories of democracy, I sometimes wonder what my kids will be missing by not attending bigger, more urban ones.@Ann – Double wow. How do working families afford all of it?

  56. My son starts kindergarten in a week and a half. I was pretty calm about it until today when I got a letter from his school’s food service department. Kindergarten students are given the option of participating in the meal plan, which I more or less knew, but I didn’t know there were so many complexities to it all. Yikes.As for the supply list, when I taught middle school in the city, I had a much more modest list, but I could count on one hand the number of kids (out of 140) who brought in the requested supplies. We were out of pencils and Kleenex by the end of September. So yes, while @Ann’s list seems excessive, in response to @hush’s question, I’d only add “How do working teachers afford it?”

  57. Thankfully, I have another year until my child starts kindergarten.I am a teacher, but not a kindergarten teacher. One thing I think is hard about being a kindergarten teacher is that the PARENTS need so much support. A lot of times the kids take it better than the parents.
    Also, I think kindergarten is generally quite nurturing. What’s different from daycare or preschool, I think, is that it feels more like your child is on display. Parents start worrying whether their child is academically and socially falling behind or too far ahead. This happens from birth, but becomes public five days a week. Some of this is built into our school system, but so much of it is built into our imaginations.

  58. Our daughter’s new Kindergarten teacher called to introduce herself yesterday. I thought it was a sweet gesture (Meet the Teacher is tomorrow night and school starts on Monday) until she said her name. This teacher is the very same one that a friend who’s very involved with PTA told me that we wouldn’t want. That’s all she said (no details as to why we wouldn’t want this teacher) but it terrified me.I prayed all summer that we wouldn’t get that teacher but, we did. Now I’m completely freaked out. Our daughter has had behavior issues in preschool that we’ve worked very hard (with outside assistance) to help her with. I’m so concerned that this teacher and “the system” will turn our girl off of school. She’s bright and creative and fun and I do not want to see that sucked out of her.
    There’s nothing I can do but wait and see and hope things turn out better than I’m expecting. Pass the paper bag, ladies I’m hyperventilating over here!

  59. I am the other parent with that same incompetent Kindergarten teacher. Parents are scared, if they say anything, the teacher and admin will take it out on their child. My Principal reneged on a meeeting to discuss this teacher, she is so scared of the union. As with you, I was new to the system and did what I was told. 2 years later I will start fighting if they continue their bullying and lying, I am mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore. They take advantage of new parents as part of their control issues.Mitch

  60. OMG, everyone take a deep breath. It is possible to have a fine year in K. My DD had a wonderful K year in an “ok” public school in an “ok” district in a large US city. I didn’t participate in the choice angst – I picked the school we could walk to despite the fact that it wasn’t “rigorous” or “alternative” or hip or fashionable or a popular choice among my cohort. My DD put on her little uniform and marched into the playground everyday and had a ball (and was reading by October, learned her “math facts” and a bit of Mandarin). I helped out in the classroom and went on a few field trips. It was a great experience all around. (She even – horrors! – got school lunch nearly every day … I loved that she had complete control over what she ate 5 X / week and she loved punching in her PIN and picking her fruit and veggies from the salad bar.)We moved to Australia (Victoria) at the end of that summer and were in time for her to do a term of “Prep” (1st year of primary school, so, K equivalent). There was more play time, no homework, more critters in the classroom (mice! chicks! fish!), no academic pressure – it was more like my own K experience decades ago.
    So, yes, the edu system in the US – compared to many other developed counties – is fucked up and crazy-making … but, you don’t necessarily have to participate in the crazy for your kids to have a decent year.

  61. Sorry in advance for the long post!Oh, Kindergarten…The angst and worry and fear, and terror. And I’m just talking about my own feelings! My oldest, Q, started Kindergarten three weeks ago (we have “year round” school where I live, so they start the first week of August). Bottom line up front, he loves kindergarten, his teacher seems pretty great (so does the assistant), he is making friends, and so far it seems like a really great experience for him. I have been very careful to only say good things about school because I don’t want him to go in with any preconceived notions. I don’t want to make it any harder for him than it needs to be by putting my fears off on him.
    A little background. I was home schooled until my senior year of high school. My dad was in the military so we moved around a lot. I did not have a great experience in my one year of “real” school, so school is a touchy subject for me. I also attended a very small private school, so I don’t know what The System is like, except that I know that my parents wanted to keep their kids out of it. I don’t have the experience of riding a bus, getting lunch in a cafeteria, learning alongside other kids, etc.
    The things that I have found frustrating with my son’s Kindergarten experience is that I don’t see the teacher, I don’t get any adult feedback on how he is doing integrating into the classroom (my mom has always looked after my kids, or my DH has been laid off so he has been home with them so this is totally new for him), or how he is doing academically (he says he is in the “green group”, but what does that mean?!). I put a letter for his teachers in his school folder, and it came home with no acknowledgment from them. I realize that with 26 students in his class it is probably pretty difficult to answer every parent’s messages, but I really need to know how things are going from their point of view! He is not eating his lunch and that worries me. I pack his lunch because I figure if he doesn’t have to stand in line for lunch, he will have more time to actually eat (they get 20 minutes for lunch—at home he is a very slow eater so I knew this would be a problem for him). Of course, the first week he told me that he didn’t want my (carefully thought out for all his food issues) packed lunch, he wanted school lunch “because N says that they have pizza every day!”
    Oh, and as @Ann mentioned, the supply list we were provided is ridiculous. I spent around $100.00 on supplies for Kindergarten (that doesn’t count clothing or lunch bags). I totally understand that teachers can’t provide all the necessary supplies on their income, but since my DH is now unemployed, I can’t really afford it all either. So, when one of my co-workers told me, “Oh, they can’t make you bring that stuff, I never have for either of my kids”. I saw red because then I understood why *I* had to provide all that stuff—because of parents like her, who can afford it, and still won’t provide the necessary items for their children to learn!! Grrr…
    Thanks Moxie, this was just what I needed. So far this experience has not been as bad as I was afraid that it might be, it is just so overwhelming for me.

  62. Our school supply list isn’t as shocking as Ann’s but there were several difficult to find items. Six 4.5×6″ cellulose cleaning sponges. No one carries sponges that large. The best I could do was 3 5/8 x 6 and they were SO expensive for sponges.

  63. Well, I’m back from the first day. And everything went swimmingly. Chuckles went to school. It was another kid’s birthday, so there were cookies. The school is not a nut-free zone, which is fine since none of the kids in the class have an allergy, so they were good cookies. They had ART today. One of the kids in his class has a paraprofessional working with him, so there is a second set of eyes and hands in the classroom. He took the bus home. The End.Now, I will gladly pass my paper bag to the people whose kids start school on Monday (and I’ll see you here again next year when he starts going all-day and bringing/buying lunch).

  64. Here they’re making the transition to full-day K for everyone. My daughter will start when she’s 4. A full day of Kindergarten at 4 years old. I’m a teacher. I’ve subbed all over the district we live in. I’ve been in classes with a lot of 4 year old Kindergarteners. Overall, they are not ready. We have two more years to decide what to do. Do I pull her out and homeschool for a year or two? If I do that then she’ll miss getting into programs like French Immersion. But full day K, that gets more demanding and academic every year, for a 4 year old makes me shiver.School supplies here are completely different. We just had a court case about it a couple years ago where it judged to be illegal to require school fees. Before each kid would bring in a check and the school would order the supplies. Now we’re not allowed to ask. Of course, the school budgets haven’t gone up to compensate for this…

  65. This is so timely! Today was my daughter’s last day of kindergarten. She goes to a year-round school and will go back as a first grader in three weeks.It was a rough year. Her school is tiny, loving, supportive, nurturing, every wonderful word you could ever assign to a school, that was it. And it was still rough. My daughter cried at drop off 90% of the time for about ten months straight. Sometimes it was just a little sniffle and a tear. Sometimes full-blown screaming and clinging to me.
    The one thing that worked was to talk to a therapist who helped devise a plan for drop-off. We began doing the same routine every single day and while it didn’t eliminate the tears, it helped a great deal with the stress.
    So that’s my biggest piece of advice. Develop a routine at drop-off and stick to it.
    It’s such a year of change. I don’t really know how anyone gets through it without a feel battle scars, for better or worse!

  66. Colleen– luckily, different personalities mix in different ways. A teacher who wasn’t the right fit for a friend’s child might end up being the perfect fit for your child. I hope that’s the case!I think the reason people get upset to hear a specific teacher being bashed is because of comments like Mitch’s. Suddenly the principal and the whole union have control issues. If you could handle the problem without demonizing the whole profession that would be nice.

  67. My daughter went to kindergarten at her preschool, so we’re going through the starting at the big school anxiety about first grade. We’re lucky – we live in a well funded suburban/exurban district and she’ll go to a nice, new school that’s about 10 minutes from our house, although she’ll get the bus about 35 minutes before school starts. We are still waiting for our teacher assignment and supply list, and she is wondering if any of the three kids from her kindergarten class that are headed to the same school will be in her class. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that it isn’t likely, since there are 5 or 6 first grade classes at her school. It’s going to be a big change, going from 14 kids in her class to 25, and from her preschool to an elementary school with 650 kids!I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything will go well and if it doesn’t, we’ll figure out what to do next.
    And then the following week, my two year old starts preschool one day per week. Yikes.

  68. My dd starts first grade in 4 days. “Our” Kindergarten experience worked out really well, but most people would not be able to replicate it. I wanted to homeschool, so we did that and she went to a *very* nurturing, small, wonderful, 3 day/week morning program (basically preschool, but with a few K-age kids). Academics is not a problem for her, so I did not stress very much about making sure she was mastering Kindergarten skills (alphabet, etc) because she already had. Her emotional development was (and still is) more delayed.About 3/4 of the way through the year, I started thinking about 1st grade options along with all the other parents her friends. She didn’t love homeschooling, so I was open to school options. I looked at a fabulous, tiny, private (though not the expensive kind) school 5 minutes from our house, and they offered to have her start right away – in March of her K year.
    It was absolutely the best possible thing for us – she was NOT ready in September, but by March she was 6, she had gone through a huge developmental spurt around Christmas, and the wonderful little morning program wasn’t enough for her anymore. She adapted quickly to the new school, and starting when she did gave her a chance to get used to the new routine and catch up socially/emotionally a little before starting 1st grade. The school has mixed-age classrooms, so she’ll have the same teacher as last year.
    She is dying to have homework. They didn’t have it last year, and I don’t believe they will in 1st grade either. I do get stressed and overwhelmed by the demands on me – lunches, volunteering, school events, etc. but I suppose it’s better than not being involved.

  69. My youngest child starts kindergarten next week. With my oldest, I was excited! We had chosen to enroll him in a charter school that ended up being a poor fit and he switched to our public school after the first quarter. But even when our second child started, because we knew the school and the teachers and he was so excited to be going, I was excited all over again. Now with the third I feel a bit nostalgic over the last one entering elementary, but he will be in school with his brothers and we do love the school. I am looking forward to his first day too! It does help that our kindergarten has no homework. Because I am *not* excited about that kicking back in for the older two. Homework sucks.

  70. If anyone is still reading at this point –don’t worry, at least before you have good reason to! My daughter’s kindergarten teacher was wooonnnnddderrful. Her experience was much, much better than she’d had at her Montessori preschool. The other kids are so much nicer (we just had a playdate with the girls in her class last night and I was just smiling to see them all get along so nicely). She just thrived–and she was even a little young and I got a lot of crap from people about not holding her back (her birthday is ONE DAY past the cutoff date in our state). Our only issue was that she (and I, for that matter) had horrible separation anxiety. Her teacher handled it very kindly, as did the kids in her class. Her school goes up to seventh grade and those kids were so nice to her, too, always being really comforting and sweet in the morning. After the initial adjustment was done and she was still crying in the morning (only to be happy as a clam during the day –I asked a kid who was volunteering there to spy on her and report back to my friend who was supervising her, and his report was this: “Is that the girl that’s always laughing?”) we finally set up a reward system for every day she managed not to cry. She was just getting so anxious about falling apart that it made her fall apart, and needed a little boost to be her usual confident self.In short –I loved being a kindergarten mom! Loved it. And my daughter loved it too.

  71. My son started full day kindergarten this week. He has always been easy to leave in preschool/daycare. This has been much harder. More emotionally charged for both of us than I ever expected. He says he has fun when I pick him up and that he likes it. But, he doesn’t want to go in the morning. To the point of tears which is really not his normal behavior. I’m scared he will have a bad educational foundation. He is having nightmares, and cried when I wasn’t home to tuck him in on Tuesday. This is really not normal for him. The teacher seems nice. It would be nice if she was a little more nurturing touch feelie but she seems good. This is certainly different than preschool. Like my son is now developing his own personal life.I

  72. My nephew’s kindergarten teacher used humiliation to keep him in line. She too didn’t like active children, which pretty much meant she didn’t like boys. He also lost his love of school and had a miserable year.This year, his younger brother enters kindergarten. My sister asked the principal to put him with any other teacher but that one. The principal stated that parents are not allowed to choose which class their child is enrolled in. She fretted about what to do if he got that awful teacher, but luckily, he was assigned to a different one. But she still feels tons of anxiety about sending her baby off to kindergarten.
    I have a 3 month old and I know I’ll have the kindergarten anxiety. Speaking from my own experience, really good teachers and really bad teachers can have a huge impact on a child. Kindergarten is too young to learn how to deal with bad things and awful authority figures who relish in humiliating others.
    I wish we had a yelp.com-type review for teachers. We need a place where parents and children can leave feedback about their teachers. Then, no longer will bad teachers be protected by the System or by the unions. Sure, some reviews will be unfair, but I think most of us are judicious enough to know which reviews to give weight to.
    As it is, now I’m going to have to find a way to ask parents for their opinions about the teachers my daughter is assigned to – at least for the first few years. As the experiences posted here attest to, these first years of school are so important and make such a lasting impression on children. Thank-you for sharing your stories.

  73. The merit selection system involves a nonpartisan commission that reviews the qualifications of aafdpplicants for judicial ofice. Once the commission screens and interviews applicants, it forwards a slate of nominees to the governor who makes the final appointment.

  74. My son got abused at his previous school (pre-k) so of course i pulled him out. He was out for 5 months and just started kinder. It is his third day and I got told today by my mother, who picks him up every day, that he got sent to the principles office for pushing a kid because the kid made fun of him. Of course my heart breaks knowing he’s getting made fun of on the third day and ppl are telling me he’s just gunna have to get over it and realize he can’t take his anger out with abuse. Yes I completely understand this. No excuse for abuse. How do I go about this situation?? Any suggestions. I just wanna cuddle him up and cry.
    -single momma struggling

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