Put a Bib on It


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First Day of School—and Beyond!

We’ll bid a fond farewell to Sadie after Ev heads to his first day of school… next month, join her on our blog for parents of young children, Blink…And They’re Grown!

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Ev started kindergarten in August. It’s true what they say, about it being such a transition, such a coming of age life moment. My baby is no longer a baby.

I just felt like so much was changing. The same week Ev started kindergarten, Ev switched from a car seat to a booster chair—no harness buckle. Drop off meant no more walking into the classroom and Ev just getting out of the car at the door to the school. I don’t even have to put my car out of drive. It means leaving the Put A Bib On It blog and joining our other parent blog, Blink…And They’re Grown. Because I no longer have a baby. I have school-ager.

I have once heard of change being compared to an elephant and its rider. The elephant is our emotions and the rider is our analytical side. Usually the rider has control over the elephant, but if the elephant doesn’t want to obey—who would win? I did everything in my power to keep my emotions, my elephant, from running amuck. What if drop off didn’t go well and Ev got out of the car crying? What if he is lonely all day and misses me and his dad? What if he doesn’t make friends? What if he doesn’t make the right friends—those who encourage him to be a leader and make good choices? What if he isn’t kind? What is he doesn’t stand up for himself? What if he doesn’t stand up for others? What if there is a zombie apocalypse and I can’t get to him in time?

The rider in me made some plans to prepare Ev and to prepare me. We set up some play-dates so that Ev would have the opportunity to meet some other children in his class. I took him to meet the teacher and to drop off school supplies. We also spent some time at the school. Ev played on the playground and we walked around inside. We practiced how drop-off would go. We talked at-length about kindergarten. We made a laminated picture schedule of the morning routine and a laminated family picture for the book bag.

The first day of school arrived. Ev hopped out of bed, got dressed and started the morning. He was excited. We took first-day pictures and loaded the car at our pre-determined time. As we were in the car line to drop Ev off, we talked about having courage and being kind and went over things one last time. An aid approached the car, opened the door and Ev got right out with a simple “Bye.” I of course, started bawling (and proceeded to do so on and off until pick-up time; I could no longer control my elephant). But Ev was fine!  He was great, even. And I am so proud. He has been in kindergarten for several weeks now and I am still so proud.  He has handled the transition so well. We discuss good parts and challenging parts of the day. And the good far outweighs the bad.  He looks forward to school and seems very confident. While I miss my little baby terribly, I am so proud of my school-aged boy.


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Ready or Not—It’s Time for Kindergarten!

Ready-or-notNothing makes you feel like your baby is no longer a baby than getting kindergarten registration paperwork in the mail. Seriously, I felt a panic attack coming on and immediately pushed the packet under a stack of junk mail and sent my husband a text with a sad face emoji.

Let’s back track a bit. My husband and I have been talking about kindergarten for a year. Should we send Ev to kindergarten in the fall or wait a year? I had worries like the size of the school and the amount of children. Older children. Who would be on the playground with my baby? Does Ev need to learn how to carry a lunch tray with plates of food balanced on top? Will I be able to walk Ev to his classroom or will I have to drop him off at the door?

All of this has been running through my head and it just felt like we weren’t ready. We struggled when thinking about Ev’s development. Cognitively he seems ready but socially and emotionally, not so much. We started asking ourselves questions like what’s more important—to stimulate his cognitive development or support his social emotional development? Other parents have told us that they wished they would have waited to send their child to kindergarten, but we have never heard someone say they wished they would have sent their child a year earlier.

On the surface this seems like an easy answer. Just wait a year. But it’s not that easy. We live in the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) district and we really want Ev to attend one of the magnet schools. Up until this year, that required camping out for two weeks because their registration for magnet schools was on a first come/first serve basis. But this year CPS changed the process. Since our minds weren’t made up yet we thought (like many parents I’m sure) what the heck? So we filled out the application and went on with our lives. CPS announced that they received a record breaking amount of applications and they were working on plans to have more seats in magnet schools but we counted ourselves out and just figured we would wait to send Ev to kindergarten another year.

He got in. He got a spot at our first choice. Since we don’t want to lose our spot at the school we decided to enroll him. The magnet school we chose is a Montessori-based program and the kindergarten also includes preschool-aged children. That reassures us that the teachers will be able to support Ev’s social and emotional needs while also providing the academic standards that we are looking for. And after that year if we feel like he isn’t ready for first grade, we won’t send him; whether that means keeping him in the same room another year or sending him to a private school for a year.

I feel confident in this decision. But when that registration paperwork came in the mail, it just made it real. My baby is going to kindergarten in six months. He is ready. But that doesn’t mean I am.


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Is it too early to be thinking about kindergarten?

When deciding on your child's education, it's never too early to start planning.

My son is 2-and-a-half and we are already thinking about kindergarten. Currently, Ev attends a lovely child care where he is consistently engaged in developmentally appropriate activities that I know are preparing him for kindergarten. For me, kindergarten readiness doesn’t mean things like being able to read and hold a pencil the correct way, but getting a good foundation for learning by playing. That’s exactly what he’s getting in his current program. Ev has a real connection with his teacher, and everyone in his program knows his temperament, his fears, his likes and has great communication with us. I really am quite happy with it. However, I’ve never been one to wait for something to break before I fix it.

My husband and I have started thinking about Montessori education, which is an early childhood philosophy neither of us knows much about. I have visited an early childhood Montessori classroom right down the street from my office and really liked what I saw. If we chose this program for Ev, he would start when he turned 3. I know part of the curriculum is to support a child’s development of self-control and many of the materials are self-correcting in order to support independence. I can really see Ev being successful in an environment like that. The classroom is also a mixed age group, ranging in children aged 3 to age 5 or 6, as it includes kindergarten. Again, I think Ev could really learn a lot from other children because he is quite social. If it this were a good fit, Ev could stay though kindergarten, giving us one additional year to find the best elementary school. It is also about 15 minutes less of a commute both before and after school.

This is such a hard decision. Do we pull Ev from a learning environment that we know he loves to try something new that we think he might like? What if he isn’t successful? What if Ev doesn’t develop self-control? Would Montessori still be a good fit? Are we jumping the gun with thinking about kindergarten already? Is location and convenience a “good enough” reason to consider changing programs?

Really, my husband and I just want to do what is best for Ev. Both of these programs are high quality, so the truth is, he would benefit from both. This is a win/win situation. I’ve added our name to the waiting list at the Montessori program, so we have some time to decide which “win” we want.