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A Nonfiction Column
By Jeff Shelby

Kindergarten Already?

Itís hard for me to believe that my daughter was born five years ago because it seems like yesterday that we were just bringing her home from the hospital. So it was a little surreal last week when I walked into the elementary school to register her for kindergarten in the fall. She is very ready for kindergarten, anxious to make the jump from preschool to the school with all the "big kids." I, on the other hand, am pretty sure that I am nowhere near ready.

So Iíve been searching for a few books that might help make this big jump a little smoother for me and here are a few that Iíve been paging through.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

When in doubt, always start with a classic. Fulghumís book about applying the simple things we learn in kindergarten to the rest of our lives still rings true twenty years after it was first published. This book should be required reading for everyone at least once every couple of years to remind us that the complexity of our lives can often be smoothed out by the simplest ways of thinking.

Richard Scarry's Getting Ready for School Workbook (Paperback) by Richard Scarry

I had forgotten how much I loved Richard Scarry as a child. His books were some of the first I remember my mother reading to me and so Iíd have to say I bought this book more for me than for my daughter. This is actually a compilation of four separate workbooks that Scarry put together for kids to practice basic skills and my daughter loves the simple reading and writing exercises that are great prep work for what sheíll see when she hits kindergarten next year. Huckle Cat rules!

The Kindergarten Wars: The Battle to Get into America's Best Private Schools by Alan Eisenstock

We live in a neighborhood with a very good public elementary school, so private schools were never a concern for us. Not so for all parents, though, and Eisenstockís book profiles several families who are obsessed with getting their child into elite private kindergartens. I wish Eisenstock had committed to following these families over the next fifteen years so we could see if the incredible pressure that these parents place on themselves and on their kids will ultimately reward them or set them up for even bigger disappointments. This book is both exasperating and entertaining.

Kindergarten Success: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn by Amy James

As I registered my daughter for kindergarten, I realized that I really had no idea what she would be doing in the classroom next year. All I remember from my kindergarten year is climbing the Noodle Knocker (a wooden pole in the classroom) and nap time. This straight forward book provides the basics for what kids will be learning during their kindergarten year and what the learning expectations are. The book also provides tons of exercises to supplement what the kids are doing in the classroom and lots of recommendations of kindergarten appropriate books. Think of it as your own adult kindergarten textbook.

Donít forget to pack your lunch!

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