How to Send Your Kid to Kindergarten for First-Timers

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Something profound seems to happen after our kids turn four. As moms, we become acutely aware of the next big milestone looming ahead — kindergarten.

And while this one is everything a milestone should be (fun, exciting, emotional), there’s a bit of legwork involved.

So when my oldest daughter reached this pivotal age, I had a stark realization. I really had no idea how to send my kid to kindergarten.

If this sounds like you, you’re in luck. Below is a step-by-step guide, along with specific dates to hopefully calm any anxiety you may have around the kindergarten send-off process.

Please note: this is my experience with West Fargo Public Schools, so be sure to check your district for specific dates and requirements as these may vary slightly.

Sending Your Kid to Kindergarten

The Process Starts Months Before

While the academic year doesn’t typically start until late August, the prep work for kindergarten starts much earlier. Here is what you need to do:

Step #1: Have a child who is at least five years old by July 31st of the school year you plan to enroll them. You have the option of waiting until the following year (this may be especially appealing for spring or summer birthdays).

Step #2: Register them. Every student must complete fall registration forms to attend school. This is done online through the PowerSchool Parent Portal. You simply create a log-in and follow the steps laid out for you. I would suggest doing this with your spouse and set aside about 30 minutes to complete it. I received an email from the District Registrar in July prompting me to do this. But if you want to get a jumpstart, registration opens in early spring.

Step #3: Prepare your child through practice and conversation. Every family is different, but we felt best prepared when we worked on the following:

  • Independently getting all their gear on and off (shoes, boots, backpack, coat, hat, gloves).
  • Lunch time skills (carrying food on a tray, finishing their meal in about 20 minutes, and independently opening snacks, milk cartons, Tupperware, etc.).
  • Academic skills (knowing how to write their name, counting, and letter recognition and sounds).
  • Social skills (sitting still, taking turns, saying please and thank you, knowing how to express their feelings and ask for help).
  • Discussing what a typical school day will look like (drop-off and pick up, morning routines before school, and what subjects they’ll learn).

And then August hits…

After the initial registration, we were able to relax and just enjoy summer. Then, when July slipped into August, we entered full school preparation mode! This is what our calendar looked like:

August 1st: Paperwork Due

  • The requirements included her birth certificate, immunization records, and proof of residency to the school (either electronically or in person).

August 3rd: In-Person Registration

  • While not required, this was a great option to ask questions about the registration process. They actually offered this on nine different dates between July 31 and August 9 (with really accommodating hours and at various locations).

August 14th: Kindergarten Round Up

  • This “open house” style event (held from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.) was just for incoming kindergarteners and their parents. Our daughter enjoyed the fun atmosphere and playing at different play centers. We loved being able to meet the Kindergarten teachers, as well as see the gym and cafeteria area.

August 15th: Get Supplies & Finish PowerSchool “Stuff”

  • It was our goal to have all of her supplies in hand by this date. We obtained the supply list from the school’s website. If you don’t feel like buying everything individually, you can opt for School Tool Box. This website ships you the box of all their required supplies. After a quick price comparison, I found it to be only about 5% more expensive than if I would have purchased the supplies individually.
  • We also “cleaned up” the rest of the required extras in PowerSchool, such as:
    • Signing up for and loading money on to MySchoolBucks (the platform used to pay for school lunches and/or milk).
    • Registering for activities/athletics (truthfully though for our Kindergartener, we didn’t do anything with this).
    • Viewing other resources like lunch menus, handbooks, calendars, before and after school programs, and helpful information on things such as transportation.

August 18th: Teacher Assignment

  • This was great so we could start chatting about this with our daughter. We also started receiving e-mails directly from her teacher. Then, we signed up for Seesaw (the primary app used to communicate with the school) and reviewed the specific rules and requirements for her classroom.
  • We also received a link to register for an assessment date and time. The assessments were on August 24th, 25th, and 28th and all Kindergarteners were encouraged to sign up.

August 22nd: Back to School Bash

  • This fun event (for all incoming elementary students and their families) was held at the school from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. It included outdoor inflatables, food trucks, and even a cute balloon arch for photos. We first headed to my daughter’s classroom to formally meet her teacher, unload her required supplies, check out her locker, and just spend some time getting familiar with things.

August 28th: Kindergarten Assessment

  • This 30-minute assessment took place with her teacher in her classroom. I wasn’t there, but my daughter said she was asked some questions about letters and counting, and also demonstrated how she used a pencil and scissors.

August 29th: First Day of School!

  • As a family we walked into the school together and went straight to the gym. All kindergarteners were welcomed and then sat with their classmates. After they were all gathered, they walked with their teacher to their classrooms. Then the parents listened to a short (and very helpful!) presentation from the Assistant Principal.

Voilà — That’s it!

And there you have it. That’s how I sent my kid to kindergarten!

Overall, my biggest advice is simply this: keep good communication, be involved, and above all else, enjoy the amazing milestone and gift that kindergarten is.

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Jenna Kirschmann
Mom, wife, sister, and aunt are Jenna's most cherished titles. She credits her hardworking, yet humorous nature to being born and raised in small town North Dakota. Jenna ventured to the Fargo/Moorhead community to pursue her degree, but loved the area so much, she never left. After many years working in the long term care field, Jenna traded her Housing Director role to become a stay-at-home mom. Nowadays you can find her alongside her husband Elliot, raising their three little girls (Beatrice, Hazel, and Charlie) in West Fargo. In her free time, Jenna enjoys playing volleyball, reading a great book, or trying a new recipe in the kitchen. Her perfect day would start with an amazing cup (or two) of coffee and be filled with as much laughter and delicious food as possible.


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