1st day of kindergartenSending your kids off to school on the first day each year is always a bit emotional, but out of all of the educational milestones your little one hits -- watching your child go to kindergarten has to be one of the toughest days in any parent's life. (Sniffle.)

Because making the transition from that lovely little bit of heaven on earth known as preschool to full-blown "big kid" school is a pretty big leap to say the least. And before I sent my little dude to kindergarten last year, I thought I had it all figured out, and that the switch would be a piece of cake.

And I couldn't have been more naive or dead wrong.

It turns out I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and to this day, I still can't understand why they don't make some sort of manual explaining how kindergarten works. It's almost like schools assume that all parents are mind readers and immediately know what to expect the minute their kid hops on that bus. (If only life were that simple.)

On that note, I've written somewhat of a cheat sheet for new kindergarten parents listing secrets I wish someone would've told me before my little guy went last year. (And if anyone has a list about what to expect in 1st grade, I'd love to see it.)

1. If your kid doesn't know the bus routine on day one even though it's never been explained to him, BOTH of you will get a nice scolding from the driver when he comes home, ruining that whole first day of kindergarten bliss thing.

2. You know how in preschool everyone holds your hand and gives you a big hug and praises your child up and down for being adorable and perfect? Yeah, he isn't so special anymore in kindergarten ... because they want all the kids to be treated the same, etc.

3. There's this little thing called the PTO, and it's evil and will begin stalking you and inundating you with fundraising packets somewhere around day three or four of kindergarten. Don't be fooled -- PTO actually stands for "Parent Torture Organization."

4. If you don't send in said fundraising packets immediately, you will find reminder after reminder in your child's backpack each day. (Again with the torture ...)

5. There's this thing called a "Room Mom," and trust me, it's not as innocent as it sounds. Because being a "Room Mom" basically means you are agreeing to take on the job of being the kindergarten party planner for the rest of the year. (If you aren't into the clipboard of fun, this isn't the job for you.)

6. OMG. It never fails, somewhere in the first couple months of kindergarten, you will find a letter in your kid's backpack saying that lice has been found in his/her classroom. But don't panic -- because apparently this happens in every school in every part of the country and the odds of your kid actually getting lice are pretty slim to none. (Oddly enough, there's no lice in preschool.)

7. When you find a newsletter in your child's backpack saying that an upcoming event at the school such as "Family Reading Night" is optional? Yeah -- it's definitely required. (The word "optional" is a classic guilt tactic.) Unless you don't mind being made to feel like the worst parent who ever walked the face of the earth, go to the damn event.

8. You know what "big kid" school is full of? BIG KIDS. And big kids have one purpose to fulfill when it comes to your kindergartner -- to ruin all of the hard work you put into shaping his manners and good behavior while he was in preschool. No matter how good of a job you think you've done, it'll all go down the drain the minute the big kids get a hold of your little kid.

What are you most nervous about when it comes to entering the world of kindergarten?

 

Image via Mary Fischer