There’s so much to learn as our little ones progress from infant to toddler to preschooler to school age kid. At first it’s just learning about parenting and your child herself, but then it progresses to needing to learn about external things like swimming lessons (mommy and me group class or individual lessons? when to start? quick-results ISR or the gentle, longer method?), sports teams (how young can you start? soccer or baseball?) and school.
If you’re like me and you start out knowing next to nothing, it can be stressful as your child transitions to each stage. You have to stay on top of the necessary learning and make sure you know everything you need to before she gets to the next stage. If you’re lucky, you have friends and fellow parents who are just ahead of where you need to be so they can keep you informed. But sometimes, somehow, you forget a critical step until you’re right on top of it. Like me!
Not long ago, I woke up freaking out, thinking OMG! I forgot about preschool! Here’s Zoe in daycare, merrily stepping from class to class as she attains the next level of maturity and necessary skills… but I forgot to look into, research and sign up for preschool! Am I too late? She’s 3 now – was I supposed to do it at 2.5? Or even earlier? Ahhhhhh! Yes, needless to say, there was a certain amount of freaking out by yours truly.
But you know what? Preschool is one of those funny things – it means different things to different people. Many, many people consider preschool to be synonymous with daycare. And in fact, when I asked about it at our daycare, they giggled at me and said “Zoe IS in preschool. She’s in the preschool class, right where she needs to be, learning all the things she’ll need to know in kindergarten.” Phew! I mean, you can’t imagine how relieved I was to hear this.
Basically, if a child has a stay at home parent, then they’ll likely go to something called “preschool” which is usually a couple of mornings a week and allows for socialization time, play, and some pre-literacy learning. But if a child has parents who work out of the home and is in daycare, then they are getting all that – daycare just sort of becomes “preschool” at a certain age (right around 3 or 3.5, as I’m learning). The really important thing is that to get to that “preschool” stage/classroom, they have to be potty trained. Fortunately, we took care of that ages ago at 33 months of age. So, I didn’t need to worry. She’s right where she should be. But you better believe this little mommy scare got me hot to find out all about the next stage – kindergarten – so I can get back out in front of the curve.
I’ve researched our school system, our elementary school and everything I could find out about kindergarten. She’ll start in August 2015 but I need to sign her up in January 2015. That’s actually not very far away! I also researched what she’ll need to know for kindergarten, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. She knows almost all of it already! In fact, with a little more work on (meaning: play with) letters and numbers, I think she’ll be way ahead of the game when she starts in two summers. Another big PHEW!
So, my only advice to new parents is to talk to your friends, talk to your daycare providers, and know that preschool means different things depending upon your situation and whom you ask. But kindergarten – the big K – now that’s something else. That’s one to research and get to know, well in advance. Oh, and be sure to check out the latest, cutest ways to document your child’s first day, so you don’t have lame first-day pics like these ones I took of Zoe on her first day in her new Pre-K (preschool) class at daycare. Sorry, Zoe my love – I’ll do better when you start kindergarten, I promise!
What do you think? Have you ever “forgotten” to learn about your child’s next stage only to realize he or she is already there? Doh! Please don’t tell me I’m the only one.