Kindergarten 101, Kleenex, And Kentucky

The giveaway is closed. The winner is Shanda Coleman who commented, “I live in Bowling Green and my son attends Natcher Elementary School. I’m so glad you had a wonderful visit. It is a terrific school all year long. So many people recommended visiting the teacher and school ahead of time and our district makes this very easy by having each school host an open house with all the children before the school year starts. It makes the transition smooth for everyone.” Thanks to everyone who entered!

I jokingly called her the kindergartener whisperer, and I wasn’t kidding. Mrs. Patrice McCrary, a National Teacher Hall of Fame educator, is a veritable expert on all things Kindergarten!

Last week Miss A and I joined four amazing mom bloggers and their equally amazing soon-to-be kindergartners for a trip to Bowling Green to soak up the years of knowledge from kindergarten teacher Patrice McCrary. I was excited to have the chance to bring my 5-year-old “future blogger of America” on a special mother/daughter trip and I was also looking forward to visiting Bowling Green, as I graduated from Western Kentucky University. Go Big Red! I’ve been on a few blog trips this year, but this is the first one I shared with one of my kids and that was a pretty special experience.

We rode to Kentucky from Nashville in style via a white stretch limo and I knew from the attention to detail that this would be an amazing experience. Ya’ll, they served the kids (both big and little) Little Debbie snack cakes on a silver tray. We also had a lovely welcoming dinner at tables set with fun primary color touches by a local party planner (thank you Leona for the amazing paint buckets filled with goodies at the kids’ activity table!) Mrs. McCrary gave all the kids fun Dr. Seuss tote bags filled with crayons, an activity book for building writing skills, and a tiny notebook.

On Friday our kids got a sneak peek at kindergarten life. Imagine their delight when they saw a big yellow school bus pull up in front of the Bowling Green Holiday Inn. I think this was as equally exciting as the limo ride. We headed to the beautiful William H. Natcher Elementary School for a morning of good ole get your hands dirty with glue and finger paint arts and crafts activities, special story time from Mrs. McCrary who read Germs Make Me Sick, and fun hands-on insight on how easily germs spread. It never ceases to amaze me how kids of all ages, including myself, are grossed out by the invisible germs a black light exposes. Let’s just say tiny hands pack an impressive amount of partying like rock star bacteria.

After a morning of activities in a bright and cheery classroom that had me wanting to curl up in the reading corner with a couple of good books, the kids watched a video and ate lunch while we parent types ate lunch in the beautiful school library and sat down to soak up some of Mrs. McCrary’s tips for making the school transition a smooth one. We also heard some inspirational tales from this amazing teacher. I cried and I laughed until I cried. Yes, I needed tissue.

Here are just a few tips from Mrs. McCrary (who is also featured in the book, “What Kindergarten Teachers Know,” which was provided to all of us in a goodie bag):

  • Start getting ready for school now! Get your kids in bed earlier each night. For older kids, you can entice them with reading. Tell them they can stay up 30 minutes later, if, and only if, they are reading in bed. Otherwise? Lights out!

  • Sunday night is a great night for choosing the week’s outfits (this includes YOU parents!) Mrs. McCrary chooses her week’s wardrobe and then irons it while watching Desperate Housewives. I rarely touch my iron so I’m already one step ahead of the game if I just follow this one organization tip.

  • Read to your children and converse with your incoming kindergartners in complete sentences; the kids with the biggest vocabularies, McCrary noted, do the best in school. We are, sadly, raising kids in a society that says it’s OK to plug our kids into TVs, handheld video games, DVD players constantly, even in the car. Unplug the electronics and converse with your kids in the car!

  • Celebrate the milestone of kindergarten! Yes, you may be sad about your “baby,” especially if your youngest child, like mine is starting school, but this is a happy occasion and your children will sense your anxiety.

  • Working parents who can’t be home when their child gets home from school can ask their child to videotape a synopsis of their day or use a hand-held voice recorder to talk about their special day at school. When you get home from work you and your child can then sit down together and watch or listen and catch up on the day.

  • At the end of the school day, ask your child specific questions and not just “What did you do today?” Ask them what they ate for lunch or if they learned any special songs.

The fabulous bloggers and their cute kids who also took part of this Kleenex back to school outing were (from left to right) were Ellen from Love That Max; Becky from Nickels nDimes; Niri from Mommy Niri; and Tara from Deal Seeking Mom. Thanks to Cooper Munroe from The Motherhood for organizing this great event!

And now for something fun…to celebrate back to school I’m giving away a month’s supply of Kleenex tissue to a lucky reader.

How to enter: Leave a comment with your best tip for preparing your kids for the first week of school. Some of your tips may be included on the Kleenex back to school website! I’ve uploaded several videos to the YouTube Channel with great tips from Mrs. McCrary and the world’s cutest song, Tony Chestnut. Seriously. The cute. It is overwhelming. Observe my own Miss A…

A random winner for the Kleenex giveaway will be chosen from all eligible comments left by midnight Friday, July 30.

Good luck! I can’t wait to read your back to school tips.

Disclosure: Kleenex sponsored this event and paid for our transportation to Bowling Green, as well as my hotel accommodations and meals. And yes, we had a nice goody bag in our hotel rooms that included…drum roll…Kleenex upon arrival. I have linked to my Amazon affiliate account in this post for book mentions.


  1. AmyLauren says:

    I think the best tip is what my mom did for me. Each year before school started, she took me to visit the school and meet my teachers, see the classroom. She did this when I started school but even up to 5th grade, when I went to middle school… we went by one day during the summer and I met the principal and saw some of the school. It always calmed my nerves a lot and got me excited for the first day.
    .-= AmyLauren´s last blog ..8- Learn to Cook- Our First Attempt at Shrimp Curry =-.

  2. Christie says:

    To help with getting up earlier, start a week or two before school starts by going to bed 15 minutes earlier a night until you’ve got everyone waking up at a better earlier time.

  3. Shari says:

    Around our house we do a few of the tips that Mrs. McCrary suggested:

    -We start going to bed at 8 pm about 2 weeks before school starts.

    – Go threw the school menu and decide what days are packing days and what will be packed in her lunch. This is mostly lunchables or peanut butter sammies with NO jelly.

    -We go to the grocery the week before school and let Hannah pick out her after school snacks (and items for her Packed lunch).

    -We make it a big deal to have Hannah pick out her very own (and special) book bag. If she picks one out that makes her happy there is a better chance that papers will arrive home and she will not have a problem wearing it to school. WE do the same with her winter coat. She likes to NOT wear a coat or jacket, because Oh My Gosh – who can play on the play ground with a coat on? LOL So if SHE picks out her own jacket and coat we have less problems!!

    -Another thing we go to the lovely insert angelic singing here Target and pick out brand new bed sheets and that also helps to get her to head to bed earlier. She loves to have new bed sheets and a comforter. PS - we do not have a Target near us here the closest one is in Kentucky. :(

    I am going to cross my fingers for the Kleenex win !
    .-= Shari´s last blog .. =-.

  4. Kathleen says:

    The week before, we practice getting up earlier, getting dressed right away and having breakfast immediately after dressing. And we get our son excited about school by talking about his friends who will be there

  5. The Parsonage Family says:

    I’m with AmyLauren that visiting the classroom is the best way to get excited about school. I remember when I was little (and on through high school, actually) I loved Orientation Day a couple weeks before school started. I could never remember the word, though, and ask my mom “What’s that O-word again? Yeah—I can’t wait for Orientation!”
    .-= The Parsonage Family´s last blog ..Working Mom Wednesday- Quality Time =-.

  6. EG says:

    My kids are in daycare so we’re year-round and don’t have a real first-day-of-school, but I’ve learned that Little Man needs a lot of help with all new things. We talk about things and how they’re going to be, and to sound very new-agey, we do some visualization. I also make sure he is introduced one-on-one to the grown-up in charge. We practice what he’s going to do when I drop him off. “See ya Mom, I’m going swimming.” Then I dump and run. :)
    .-= EG´s last blog ..The Boys and The Family =-.

  7. Yfur Porsche says:

    Hi there! I am pleased to tell you that I included you as one of my sources in my article on the positive and negative effects of Dora the Explorer. Don’t worry as proper citation has been done. :)

    You can share my article with your readers if you would like to. :) Here’s the link. I am Yfur, a contributing writer of Suite101. THANKS A LOT! :) Here’s the link:

    .-= Yfur Porsche´s last blog ..The Kite Runner- A Review =-.

  8. jay chua says:

    I have never been a mom before, but my wife will agree with what you said:)
    Children are lovely, from a Dad perspective..I feel very lucky to see my kids after a tiring day from work..they always add laughter to our family.

    Jay Chua

  9. Daisy says:

    I want my kids to enjoy the summer break for as long as they can, but we’re going into “school mode” schedule wise in the last week of the the break. In the last weekend we usually have a back to school party.
    .-= Daisy´s last blog ..Bikini Body Workout

  10. Angela P says:

    I think visiting the school and hopefully meeting their teacher would be the best way to prepare. I would also work on getting your kids on a “school schedule” a couple weeks before school starts, so they are not over tired during their first week.
    .-= Angela P´s last blog ..Happy Blankie Review =-.

  11. Amanda T says:

    We will do a dry run for a few days to make sure that we have the timing right so that we aren’t running down the street to avoid being late—and on the first day will still leave the house a few minutes early!

  12. Kaye says:

    Sounds a like a blast – and great one – on – one time with her. I miss buying all the back to school supplies with the kids. I love the smell of a new box of crayolas! The kids have so many cool new things – better than those old cardboard pencil boxes we used to have.

    Hope she has an amazing first day of school! Also hope you don’t go through an entire box of Kleenex that day.
    .-= Kaye´s last blog ..Banana Pudding anyone =-.

  13. Jackie says:

    I always took my children shopping before school started and let them choose their own backpack and lunchbox. Once they had it home, they couldnt wait to use it. I also let them pick out their “first day of school outfit”. Thanks for the great tips and giveaway!
    jackievillano at gmail dot com

  14. Connie Corey says:

    Go to bed earlier starting at least a week before the first day of school. Talk positive about school!

  15. Emily N. says:

    Let them pick out a nice outfit to wear the first day and some fun school supplies that express their personality so they’ll be excited and confident to start school.

  16. Jessica says:

    Let the kids help write their names on all their new school items and try on their outfit for the first day with their backpacks and check how it looks in the mirror. I agree – speaking positively about school is MOST important!

  17. Liz says:

    My daughter starts kindergarten this fall, too. We have been talking a lot about it this summer. I plan on laying out her outfits for the week, down to the underwear and socks, on Sunday night. I think I may do the same with my clothes, too!

  18. Kerrie G says:

    My son and I have a Back To School Day the weekend before school starts! I take him to get a new haircut, backpack and take a drive by the school to prepare for our morning drives. At least a week before we start “practicing” waking up and getting out the door on time (this is more for my benefit). Normally by the time school starts he is excited and ready to go!

  19. Steph says:

    Always let them pick out their lunch out so they’re involved and hang their bookbag in the same place each night to prevent morning frenzy!

  20. Kam A says:

    Let them go shopping for school supplies, snacks, etc.

    Visit the classroom and meet the teacher

    Have all of their clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc. set out before bed so everything is ready to go in the morning!

    kerin0874 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  21. Shanda Coleman says:

    I live in Bowling Green and my son attends Natcher Elementary School. I’m so glad you had a wonderful visit. It is a terrific school all year long. So many people recommended visiting the teacher and school ahead of time and our district makes this very easy by having each school host an open house with all the children before the school year starts. It makes the transition smooth for everyone.

  22. Sabrina Lawrence says:

    I think picking out the clothes ahead of time and going to bed early and practicing getting up helps us. We also go to Meet the Teacher at the School to help him feel familiar.

  23. Parris Story says:

    School started early this year for my son! The best tip I can offer is prepare a day or 2 ahead. Meaning all clothing, shoes, etcs are ready to go. I actually ironed all of my son’s clothes for the week so I didn’t have to scramble around each night trying to put outfits together. This is a major time saver! Lastly, pack your car the night before and already have in mind the breakfast menu!

  24. Heather says:

    I would say the best way would just to get your kids excited, let them pick out their “first day of school outfit” and just talk about how much fun they will have.

  25. Aimee says:

    my parents always took us to meet our teachers ahead of time, and made sure we started off the first day of school with a good breakfast.

  26. Wehaf says:

    One tip – be matter of fact about it; don’t turn it into an emotional event, or leaving them could turn traumatic on their first day.

  27. bonnie walker says:

    In the last two weeks before school we have some fun at a waterpark or go camping. Then we start our earlier bedtime and shop for school lunches and snacks.

  28. Jody H says:

    I take my kids to visit their teachers and class rooms each year a few days before school starts. I also send them to school with a bag of supplies to donate to their classroom. They look forward to taking the items to their teacher during the first week. We include glue sticks, scissors, crayons, paper, and of course Kleenex.

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