Sam Coffey, 5

Sam Coffey, 5.

When my son, Sam, started preschool, I was weepy.

Class was less than two hours and took place at daycare. So it wasn’t like anything had changed for us. But still. He was learning to write his name and color inside the lines.

“He’s really growing up,” I thought to myself.

Sam will “graduate” from preschool this spring. And then he’s off to kindergarten in the fall. At a real school.

When this realization hit me, I freaked out. I got knots in my stomach at the idea of my baby being in a new place with new kids and adults he didn’t know.

Thankfully, kindergarten roundup eased my fears.

Well, a little bit.

I had no idea what to expect going into the roundup. The date snuck up on us. Or maybe I just kept trying to deny the fact that he’s 5 and practically ready to fly out of the nest.

When it was time for the kids to line up and head to classrooms on their own with the teachers, he got up and practically ran out the door. He only barely glanced back at us as we watched, wistfully, as he disappeared from our view.

If your child is ready for kindergarten this fall, I highly recommend kindergarten roundup if you haven't missed your school's date. If you have, you can always call your child's school to schedule a visit. The hour-and-a-half experience was huge for us. Here are a few things I learned:

1. What a typical kindergarten day is like.

The principal went over with parents what the kids will do each day — going over days of the week, the calendar and weather, as well as reading (which is the longest block at Sam's school), writing, math and science/social studies. They'll also do weekly classes such as art, music, library and Spanish. She also detailed start and end times, as well as before- and after-school care.

2. Is your child ready?

We talked briefly about kindergarten readiness. Kids who turn 5 on or before July 31 can start kindergarten in the fall. If your child turns 5 between Aug. 1 and Oct. 15, they can enroll but you should contact your school as early as possible to ask about that process, the Nebraska Department of Education’s Office of Early Childhood suggests. 

Don't worry if your child can't read or write yet. The school is there to help them. However, there are some things parents can help their children with to make the kindergarten transition a little smoother. These include making sure they can go to the bathroom on their own, dress themselves, follow directions, count to 10, identify some letters of the alphabet, grip a pencil correctly and write his or her name.

3. Parent's check list.

We also went over a list of things parents need to do for their child before registering them for kindergarten. Get your child a physical, an eye exam and have the child's birth certificate and immunization records ready.

4. Cost.

If your child attends a public school, tuition won't be something you'll have to worry about. However, if you choose a private school, you'll likely go over tuition cost and a payment schedule, as well as tuition assistance. We also went over options and cost for meals, including breakfast and lunch, as well as options and prices for before- and after-school care.

Roundup didn't just help my husband and I prepare for this huge change in our lives; it also got Sam excited for this upcoming adventure. Once the parent portion was over, we made our way to the classrooms. The kids got to do an art project and we got to see the end of storytime. Sam's face lit up when he saw us.

"Mommy! Look what I made" he yelled as he proudly displayed the flower art he'd created with his future classmates. "Can we come back tomorrow?"

I laughed, but also cringed.

"Well, honey. Tomorrow is Saturday," I said. "But also, it's going to be awhile before you start coming to big kid school."

His face immediately fell. I had to explain all the fun things we had to do first — graduating from preschool and having a super fun summer — before it was time for kindergarten.

He might be ready for fall and the start of a new school year already, but this mom is in no rush. I hope we have the slowest spring and summer ever.

But I suppose I can rest easy knowing he'll be excited for the first day of kindergarten. There will be no tears or long goodbyes from my first-born. Roundup taught me that.

Ashlee Coffey is the editor of momaha.com. She is married with two sons — Sam and Elliott. Follow her on Twitter @AshleeCoffeyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1075.

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