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What's so big about the first day of Kindergarten?

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Dear Parents of new Kindergarteners,

It’s the big day!!!! But wait – is it really? For many of us who are working parents, we had to let go to spending every tender moment with our babies long ago, handing them over to nannies or daycare providers or family members while we worked – either in or out of the home.

So what’s the big deal about kindergarten? Isn’t it just another day where someone else watches over my child, keeping him safe and entertained and well-fed? Sort of. But it’s also a big milestone. Here’s how sending your child to kindergarten is different from pre-school or daycare:

  • It’s the end of choice. (OK, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic). It’s the time when you no longer really get to “choose” whether to do 5-day programs or maybe just 2- or 3-days. There’s always the home-school route, but regardless, it becomes a bit more regimented and a little less like playtime for you and the kids.
  • It’s the beginning of homework! Hopefully, your child will not get robust homework assignments in kindergarten. But he may get some – whether it’s practicing sight words or creating an all-about-me book, it’s the beginning of assignments that you are half responsible for. So get ready to carve out some time for learning.
  • It’s the entrance of new influences – like the kid who chews gum loudly at recess, or the older kid who teaches your child the “f-word” on the bus ride home, or the mean girl who breaks your son’s heart just by not holding his hand in line for lunch. And it’s the beginning of you having to reshape how you parent, deciding how you’ll handle these situations.
  • And it’s also the time that your baby becomes even less of a baby. He becomes even more independent, experiencing all new things like a school bus and “specials,” he has new teachers read him stories and before you know it, he’ll learn math facts . . . all while those chubby baby cheeks slim down to full-fledged child cheeks.
  • It’s the beginning of one of the fastest roller coasters you’ll ever experience. From the chubby cheeks thinning out to the new level of curiosity and questioning that begins in kindergarten, this is the start of schooling, for years to come, and the social, academic and emotional ups and downs that go with it.

So buckle up, embrace the milestone, and enjoy the ride.

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