“Don’t blink,” they say. But no matter how hard we try, we all do. I’m writing this as I’m also slowly coming to terms with the latest development—while shopping in Target, I can no longer get away with the 5Ts in the babies and toddler section.
As much as I’m trying to focus on our exciting summer ahead, in the back of my mind (and many other mom’s minds this time of year) I just keep thinking, I can’t believe my baby is going to kindergarten this fall.
As we stand together in this emotional, prideful, crazy little threshold of the kindergarten milestone, I want to make sure I savor all the sweet moments to come before the big day while still embracing the bittersweetness of pride and nostalgia. So, I sat down and thought about what we could, should, and will do before the first day of kindergarten. So grab a cup of coffee (check the microwave!) or pour a glass of wine and check out these nine fun things to do with your kiddo before they start kindergarten.
From super sweet memory-makers to more practical preparation, these fun things to do before kindergarten will definitely make for a memorable summer.
9 Fun Things To Do Before Kindergarten
Take a “Class of 2036” Photo
It’s crazy to think, but kiddos entering kindergarten this fall will graduate high school in the year 2036. I love the trend I’ve seen across social media of having a “Class Of” shirt that is super big on your kiddo, and taking a picture of them in it each first day of school through high school graduation. It’s a great, simple little tradition that is something to look forward to each year while also giving a bittersweet visual representation of your little one growing up through the years.
There are also plenty of other creative first day of school picture traditions to start—like taking a photo next to mom/dad to see their height grow over the years or with their school picture from the previous year. Choose your favorite!
Regardless of your summer plans and whether you’ll be working, they’ll be in camp, or your days get lost in never ending “to-dos”, I’m going to find one day to totally catch my kiddo off guard, make no appointments or responsibilities, and just have a hooky day together.
As kids grow, spontaneity gets more and more difficult to come by, so I want to try to embrace it while we still can (and while nobody is taking attendance!) It will be a whole day of hanging out just with us, doing whatever we feel like, and I know it will help to fill both our hearts.
Plan a Pre-Kindergarten Playdate
As the class lists start to roll in, I’m going to make it a priority to try to reach out to families ahead of the school year to see if they’d like to get together for a little low-key fun before school officially starts. My daughter is a lot like me and the unknown makes us both pretty anxious. I hope that by hanging out with new friends ahead of time, the familiar faces will help to ease the transition on the big day.
Have a Family Sleepover
My daughter has never been a good sleeper and still requires one of us to fall asleep with her, as well as some middle of the night snuggles. So while this may not be super groundbreaking to her, she’s also been asking me for a “real” sleepover with friends so I think this is a great first step. We’re going to break out the sleeping bags, paint our nails, watch her favorite movie with popcorn, play card games and stay up as late as she wants. If I’m feeling “extra”, I might even go all out and hang up some fun lights or get us some matching summer jammies. (Who isn’t a sucker for matching PJs?)
Review the Basics
Whether your kid is a pre-K pro or this will be their first experience in a school setting, it’s probably a good idea to make sure they have a general idea of the basics of Kindergarten. I’m hoping to use the summer to find some “Kindergarten 101” opportunities for conversation instead of overwhelming her with one big sit down discussing what kindergarten will be like “for real life.” (Bluey moms, IYKYK.)
Think of the questions your kid might have, and try your best to answer them naturally. How many kids will be in their class? What will they learn? What is the day like? How will they be able to use the bathroom? (This is a paramount question.) What will they eat for lunch at school?
You can reach out to your child’s teacher or a veteran parent if you need help preparing the answers, but casually bringing these facts into conversation or your daily activities can help your child feel prepared and excited for what’s to come.
Go Back-to-School Shopping in Person
Was this not one of the most bittersweet activities of growing up? It was so exciting to get new clothes and/or school supplies but also such a bummer because it meant summer was over. I usually do most of my shopping online, but this special occasion calls for some good old fashioned in-person retail therapy.
I’m looking forward to hitting up the mall with my kiddo and picking out some new “cool for Kindergarten” items.
Make Mommy and Me Bracelets
Throughout pre-K, my daughter and I had this little thing we’d do if we were having “tough” mornings, I’d draw a little heart on her hand and on mine so we would match and could “connect” throughout the day. This summer, we’re going to dust off my friendship bracelet making skills and make matching bracelets we can wear the first few days to help ease the transition. It’s a fun but purposeful activity to look forward to and hey—what is summer, really, without friendship bracelets?
Have a Picnic
On a particularly pleasant day, head to the park (or even your backyard) and have a nice picnic! Bring games, yummy food and snacks, crafts—whatever you know your kid will like. It can be so easy to get in a routine or rut with lunches, and something as simple as taking it outside on a blanket for once can make a core memory in the mind of littles. Bonus points if you pack for the picnic as if you’ll be packing their lunch for school. You can use this time to see if they have a preference for sandwiches, can open their bento lunch box, sample any new snacks you want to try, etc.
Make a Memory Box or Scrapbook
Chances are your 4 or 5-year-old has created some artwork, made some crafts, has a favorite t-shirt that no longer fits, etc. Instead of letting the clutter build up around my apartment, I bought a nice-looking memory box. Together, we’re going to gather a few of her favorite things and put them in the box, and I hope we do this together each year. Maybe saving it for the night before school starts is a good idea, or maybe it has the potential for an emotional breakdown. We shall see.
Whether you do one, all, or none of these things, just remember that the most important thing is to try to cherish the time you spend together. Any regular activity can become a meaningful experience your little one will carry with them as they start their elementary school adventure.