Author Archives: Jeannie Podest

About Jeannie Podest

Jeannie Podest is a mother of four, a certified teacher, and the author of Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents.

From Sun and Sand to Back to School

phpO96nKfPMHow do you go from endless summer days filled with sun and sand, watermelon and corn on
the cob to backpacks and lunch boxes, pencils and crayons? The answer is simple—it’s not easy! As much as I try to hold on to the joys of summer, every year at this time the little voice in my head starts whispering a hefty to-do list. So, in order to enjoy what’s left of summer vacation, how do you prepare for the busy season ahead?

Ease back in to back to school shopping. I used to carve out entire days for back to school shopping, but I’ve learned over the years that it’s easier to get back into the school mindset gradually by picking up different items at different times. If there’s a sale on school supplies somewhere, my kids and I will head to that store and get what we can. If I can’t get everything at once, it’s okay. This way my kids have their say and I can finish up at my leisure. In my experience, kids are much more concerned about choosing their lunch boxes and backpacks than anything else! Which brings me to my next tip . . .

Invest in a good backpack! For parents of older children, it’s worth investing in a really good—sometimes expensive—backpack. It will hold up better throughout the year and can easily go in the wash. As my kids got older, they used their backpacks for more than just one year, and even swapped backpacks with cousins and friends for a little variety. As for lunch boxes on the other hand, don’t overspend—you’ll want to throw them out at the end of the school year or maybe use them for camp if you’re really lucky.

Start implementing a regular bedtime. Especially if your children are in pre-K through primary school, decide on an appropriate bedtime and start putting it into practice. Don’t start a new bedtime all of a sudden; ease it into your kids’ schedules so that those first few school days aren’t disastrous. For parents of night owls, by the end of August it will start getting dark out earlier, so that should help with getting your kids into bed at a reasonable hour. If you are fortunate enough to have good sleepers, start getting them up earlier in the morning.

phpb1sKaDPMSchedule check ups and physicals. This one’s simple. You child will definitely need a physical for school, so by planning for it now when things are a little less hectic, you won’t have to switch your whole schedule around just to get to the doctor’s office.

Take even just one of these tips and put it into practice, and you’ll be way ahead of the game! You’ll still have plenty of time to head to the beach, put your toes in the sand, and enjoy the last of summer.

The Best Kept Secret for Kindergarten Readiness

So what’s the best kept secret for kindergarten readiness? Are you ready? It’s only one word. Not only is it a word you know, but it’s a word many people don’t talk about anymore. It’s an “L” word . . .

LIBRARY! You know, the place in almost every town and city in the U.S. where you can borrow books for free! A place where someone else will occupy and entertain your child at no cost by reading them a story or two and even doing some crafts. A place where you can sit on a rainy day and enjoy time with your child while exploring every type of book known to man (without costing you a penny!).

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library

The library has always been, and will always be, one of my favorite places on earth. I suspect this is true because my own mother brought me to the library every single Wednesday from the time I was three years old. It served as a foundation for my education—starting with kindergarten readiness—and was a place I carried with me throughout my childhood. I remember it vividly. We kept a basket in our kitchen for all of the library books we finished so that they didn’t fall into the “black hole” of our house and get mixed up with the books we personally owned. Going to the library for my family was as natural as getting gas for our car. In my mother’s mind, we were getting fuel for our brains and imaginations. I remember the library tables with the slanted tops, the special little chairs and step stools, and the shelves and shelves of endless books. I remember that by the time I was four years old I was getting lost in wonderful places just like Max in Where the Wild Things Are and going on adventures with my favorite little monkey, Curious George. I always wanted to be the Man in the Yellow Hat. He seemed to have so much fun with George!

As I got older, I graduated to chapter books in the young reader’s section, pouring over countless biographies of inspirational people like Betsy Ross and Jackie Robinson. Great authors such as Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were waiting for me and I was thrilled! The library soon became a place where I would do research for school papers and many, many book reports over the years. Eventually, I was old enough to be dropped off with my friends, and a trip to the library would entail homework and a walk to the candy store. The library grew up with me.

Give your children the same experience and bring them to the library today. Did you know that your child is eligible to have his or her very own library card at five years old? This was a huge right of passage for my own children when their fifth birthdays rolled around. They thought it was the greatest thing in the world that they had their own “credit cards”! Routinely taking your children to the library when they’re young will better prepare them for kindergarten—and for life. More than any workbook, educational website, or iPad game. They will learn responsibility and consideration for others, and they’ll expand their imaginations, engage in a productive and meaningful activity, and best of all . . . spend quality time with you.

What could be better before sending them off to kindergarten?