I’ve always liked to be prepared, it’s just my personality. I’m pretty sure I was the only 8-year old around with a check-list. Now as a Mom, I feel like my need for preparedness has become a little obsessive. I was that crazy pregnant lady with dozens of baby books, trying to figure out a plan for every infant scenario that might occur. Now, I spend weeks packing for family vacations, again trying to think of everything that might be needed. And it’s not like we’re vacationing in the middle of the desert, miles from civilization, we’re talking luxury beach resorts here! But I just feel better when I’m prepared. I’m not much of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.
Ironically, having kids has eased my anxiety about being unprepared. Because that is what kids do: the second you think you have a plan, everything figured out, they throw you for a loop. Despite my best efforts to always be prepared, my children are slowly teaching me to roll with the punches.
Yet here I am again, worrying about being prepared. This time it’s about my kids’ education. Kind of a big deal. Sometimes I obsess about being prepared because I don’t know what to expect and want to be ready for anything. But other times it’s because I do know what to expect and so I’m trying to get ready. In this case, I have been watching my older son James in Kindergarten. I even get to help in his classroom once a week. I see all the worksheets, the reading, the writing, the weekly sight-word tests, the math. It’s so much! I started a two-inch, 3-ring binder at the beginning of school to keep all his schoolwork in. Now, only three months later, it’s almost full. It’s incredible how much Kindergarteners are learning!
Now I must say, I wasn’t worried about whether James was going to be prepared or not for Kindergarten. That kid has always done everything early. He must take after his mom and likes being prepared. He was using two or three words together before he was a year old. He crawled and walked earlier than most. In fact, his fontanel even closed earlier than most babies, which actually caused some concern for his pediatricians. What can I say, he likes to get a jumpstart on everything! So when it came to starting Kindergarten, I wasn’t worried. He was already reading fluently, writing a lot, and doing simple addition and subtraction. I’m not bragging because I had very little to do with any of those things! I have always enjoyed reading to my kids, doing crafts, teaching them things early on in life, but I never forced it and always made it part of our playtime. But James is just one of those kids who picks up things quickly. He really loves Kindergarten so far and doesn’t seem phased by all the work it entails.
But then there’s my younger son, Luke. He’s four years old, but will turn five in August and so will be starting Kindergarten next fall. Don’t get me wrong, Luke has his own set of skills and talents, sometimes figuring things out way before his older brother does (or me, for that matter). But he is content to continuously call breakfast “lunch,” or blue “green,” or letters “numbers.” He isn’t interested in looking at the words when we read together, or any of the things that his brother did at his age. They are very different boys and I love that about them! But I worry. I worry because I don’t know if Luke will be prepared for Kindergarten next year. I’ve seen what Kindergarten is like.
So here I am again, trying to be prepared. At Luke’s preschool they do a great job preparing the four-year-olds for Kindergarten, teaching them their numbers, uppercase letters, writing their name, and such. But like I said, Luke isn’t interested in all that. He probably will be, like two seconds before the first day of Kindergarten. He totally is going to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants guy, I just know it.
But since I’m NOT that way, I’ve decided to supplement a little more at home with Luke than I did with James. I’ve prepared a simple, fun, ‘curriculum’ for teaching him his letters this year. Each time they introduce a new letter at preschool, we will spend a little time at home doing the activities I’ve planned for that letter. Thanks to Pinterest, numerous homeschool forums, and teacher-run websites, I’ve got some awesome things planned for the upcoming year. I have a variety of crafts, games, and a few worksheets. I even found a list of appropriate books to go along with each letter and picked them up from the library. We tried out our first ‘lesson’ with the letter A this week. Luke had a blast and was so incredibly proud of himself for learning to recognize the letter, how it sounds, and be able to write it. When his big brother got home from school he ran to tell him. I hope he’s still as enthusiastic by the time we get to letter Z.
I know I can’t prepare my kids for everything in life, but I’m going to feel better knowing that I at least tried.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.