My son is graduating from fifth grade next week and I have earned a diploma.
Yes, for me.
At this point, I have mad knowledge about what’s required to have a smooth year in elementary school. We have backup lunch boxes in case one is left at school. I have mantras I say to myself when we are late for soccer practice. I have sprayed color in the hair of hundreds of children at school carnivals.
I have learned some things the hard way.
No one eats baby carrots at a class party. Stop bringing them.
20% of the parents do 80% of the volunteering. Don’t grumble. Just try to do your share.
No one knows where the other rain boot is.
Some lessons you’ll have to learn the hard way yourself, but here are a few things you can take care of before Kindergarten rolls around. Heck, maybe they even apply to your preschool life. I present your been-there-done-that kindergarten must list.
You need these four things:
1. A lice comb
At some point, you’ll be notified that lice is going around. You can go to a special salon and pay a bajillion dollars to have them check your kid, but they’ll be using this lice comb, and I strongly recommend you buy one of your own, because if you get the lice message at 7 pm, you will have a really hard time going to sleep that night. We had lice four or five times during 6 years of elementary school and I shut down each episode with faithful and relentless Terminator combing. Not convinced? At least buy some preventative spray.
2. A hearty, small backpack
A regular backpack is too large for a Kindergartner. A character-embellished backpack from Target will be cheap and break — or be easily roughed up by the asphalt on which your child plans to throw her backpack when she races to the monkey bars. You need a sturdy backpack that fits a 5-6-year old. Here’s more advice on kid’s backpacks >
3. A large package of a shelf-stable snack food in your pantry at all times
There are typically in-class parties for good behavior, Winter Holidays, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Class With Most Donations To The Runathon, Second Week from End of School Year, Last Monday of the School Year. You get the idea. If making cupcakes is your jam, go ahead. Heather’s go-to party donation is a Costco container of animal crackers. There are no medals for special, handmade or heartfelt class party contributions. I keep brownie mix at-the-ready; it’s actually cheaper than crackers, but it requires you come up with eggs and oil and time to make the brownies, and I’m not sure how responsible you are. Send an unopened — or recently opened — box of Triscuits, and you’re good.
4. Name labels
I’ll be honest, these will not save you, but they’re worth the try. Your only true allies in the War Against Lost Sweatshirts is other kids. Yeah, elementary school kids are fairly self-absorbed, but somehow if they see a jacket on the yard, they know who it belongs to and will say, “Hey Olivia’s Mommy, there’s Olivia’s jacket!” In contrast, the janitor will just add it to the huge bucket in the office (also known as the Lice and Found) even though you have painstakingly written your child’s name inside. Sticker everything your child brings to school and hope for the best. Pick a design that’s not going to be too babyish for your future eleven-year old, in case you are able to own the same water bottle for your entire elementary school career. The name stickers in the image above are from Minted.com and come in many fabulous designs.
I called this “3 things you didn’t know you needed…” because I figured you were on top of the backpack thing. Were you?