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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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About kindergarten.

So Henry starts kindergarten next week.

Kindergarten around these parts--did I mention?--is a half-day affair.

Half day. As in not a full day.

The program was supposed to be changed to a full day, but then at the last minute it wasn't, just like that. We could discuss the pedagogical arguments behind the half-day versus the full-day program, but actually we couldn't because I wouldn't know what I was talking about and would just nonsensically throw around some jargon I Googled. So let's skip that, for the good of all mankind.

I'm just not quite sure how this schedule is going to work for us. In many ways, I think (I hope) that it will all work out just fine. Henry's pretty self-sufficient and will spend entire mornings playing with Legos. And me, my work involves writing a sentence then walking in circles and then writing another sentence, so it's not like I have anywhere to go. He's in the afternoon session, so we can both do our thing each morning; we don't have to rush out the door, he can Lego it up in his pajamas until noon, and then we can take a leisurely stroll over to the school. I picture him quietly constructing masterpieces while I'm, uh, writing masterpieces. This is what I imagine when I'm in an optimistic mood.

On the other hand, BLAAAAARRGH. Henry's been in preschool for the past three years, and last year he was in school for a full day. He is so ready for school. Real school, not these afternoon shenanigans. And this half-day? It's three hours. Three. Not four. Three. Actually it's about ten minutes less than three, and when you factor in the fifteen-minute walk back and forth, that leaves me with approximately ten minutes to get any work done. I am certain my math is correct. But then, I was in a half-day kindergarten, so what do I know.

There are programs I could put him in for the other half of the day, but, oh, the bottom line is I don't want to. I don't want to spend any more money on school, and also I think he'd get just as much, if not more, out of doing his thing over here. All that said, the time is drawing nigh, and the year is stretching out before us, and I'm getting a little nervous.

Reader Comments (60)

My daughter just began an all-day kindergarten two weeks ago, 10 days before her 5th birthday. I know people get riled up over the all day/half day thing, but I think it's like anything else--it's what works for you, and it's not really for anyone else to be judgmental about a universally right or wrong way. My little turkey was ready for full day, and she loves it. School begins at 8:35 and ends at 3:15; she has art, music, and P.E.; she has a reading group; and she's made a lot of friends. She loves it. She's been a bit tired in the afternoons, but she is excited and happy to go to school every day--she feels like such a big girl. The only downside is that we have to pay full-day kindergarten tuition. It's about half what we paid the daycare for three days a week, though, and they are working on eliminating the tuition all together--some of the schools in our district don't have to pay it thanks to an increase in funding from the city.

August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjenalda
That would seriously screw up our daily life too. The worst is that it was SUPPOSED to be full-day and then NO. What's that about? Is the school board experimenting on how to screw with families?
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentererin
Have you thought about making the case that Henry is just wayyyy too mature for kindergarten, having had three years of pre-school, and bumping him up to first grade? kindergarten teachers are always so much meaner than first grade teachers, anyway. or maybe that was just my kindergarten teacher, who was a little heavy into crack after being a romper room teacher for years on end...
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlly
PREFACE: I haven't read the other comments, and I have no doubt that I am simply going to repeat what's been said already, so don't read this comment. Really. It's a waste of your time.

COMMENT: It certainly sucks that kindergarten is a half-day once you'd gotten used to the full-day preschool thing. But like you said, hopefully you guys will chill out together in the mornings and completely enjoy yourselves.

AFTERWARD: Now that I think about it, there's an additional reason you shouldn't have read my comment (fingers crossed here that you didn't and therefore aren't reading this): it was completely un-interesting. You're welcome!
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
I thank God daily that Noah goes for the whole day. His school is great, except they get a week break every month. By about Thursday of said week, I hate that school.

You and Henry will both do fine. You'll find some way to survive the messed up schedule and then it'll be time for next year. And you'll miss him in the mornings.

August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy
You want to feel better about your 2.5 hours in the afternoon? At least you're not like us crazy people who do the unthinkable, WE DON'T SEND THEM AT ALL. God, just writing it makes me crazy. Homeschoolers are a special breed, aren't they?

There, did that help?:)
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
My son, who is now in 2nd grade, went to half day kindergarten, which around these parts is 2.5 hours. He also had afternoon. I hated it initially for all the above reasons, but eventually came to realize that it wasn't so bad. He had 12 kids in his class, and if it were full day it would have been 26 (a.m. + p.m.). Plus, when school got out we hung out at the school play yard, and I was able to get to know all of the parents who pretty much run the show, which I wouldn't have been able to do had he gone in the a.m.

I'm sure there are pros and cons to each side, but it helps if you can see the silver lining in your own situation, I think.

Congrats to Henry on kindergarten!
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdagwood
I like how you said "lego it up."

August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
Oh man, half-day blows for you. But here's the silver lining: My adorable boy just started full-time kindergarten and it is KICKING HIS ASS. This from a kid who has been in full-time daycare forever. But kindergarten has Rules and Structure and Work and my boy does not like Rules or Structure or Work. He would prefer to lego it up all day every day. So maybe it's not awful for Henry to wait another year before that begins full-time.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLacey
So sorry!I'm pulling my hair out because we have one more week until preschool's back. It's only 2 days a week, but they're 5 hour days. I very purposely chose a school with 5 hour days, and I don't care that they're sleeping for half of it. Those are 5 full hours that I don't have to try to convince them to sleep!Good luck... I'm sure now that he's five, he's ready to help you write a masterpiece. What am I talking about, you've been writing masterpieces for the last 5 years at least!
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZip n Tizzy
Alice, I feel your plight. Kid #1 is in second grade. Kid #2 is in afternoon kindergarten. While I love spending mornings with my littlest guy, I must admit that I fantasize heavily about next year: both boys in all-day school.

That must have been quite the head trip having Henry's kindergarten hours changed at the last minute. Rats! And I'm wondering how he must feel. Does he consider it some kind of demotion? Perhaps he's just thrilled at the prospect of Lego-ing freely every morning. Whatever the case, best wishes as you all enter the sweet, sweet transition to SCHOOL.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterhikooky
I almost considered moving to a different school district if they didn't change the half to full days by the time my son starts. And then I really feel selfish when I hear people talk about home schooling. Home Schooling?????
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSummer Saldana
So mine are younger, and I'm no expert, but I am thinking you are supposed to embrace this. The last year you have some time with him before he decides it's not cool for you to walk beside him on the way to school any more, and he'll be gone a whole day...and then before you know it, longer than that, and then he'll start driving, and blah, blah, blah. I think you are supposed to embrace it. And maybe get one of those typing programs that works off of your voice, so you can work while you chase him around.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaCass
Oh now I'm kind of jealous... Mine is about to start full day, which I know will be great and I know he needs. But now I'm thinking I might kind of miss him and maybe we should have done half day. Although this half day gets over at 10:30 AM - to me, that's just barely breakfast...I think there are goods and bads about each one. I wish you much luck "Lego-ing it up"and first grade will come soon enough..
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel B
The good news is, you can still get work done in the morning while Henry is "leggo-ing it up!"

As for the afternoon, I say bring your laptop and set up shop outside the school until he is done. Well, until winter....
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjustanotherjenn
Why do we never hear of half-day kindergarten creating issues for working fathers? Gah.

My kid starts preschool on Monday. We live in Italy where they make you "insert the child slowly into the new environment", meaning he only goes two hours the first day and I have to stay in the near vicinity in case there are issues. The whole process should take at least a week. Which seems really silly, since he went to pre-preschool at the very say same school up until June of this year.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
I've never heard of so many schools with half days! We were whole days from the beginning last year. Now that my daughter is in first grade, she is fully used to the system and there is no adjustment. Bad attitude? Yes. But adjustment, no.At least you go the afternoon shift, no morning freak out to get Henry to school. Enjoy it, Kindergarten just flies by and it's all so adorable!
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary Anne
Jealous here. Our half-day kindergarten is just under 2.5 hours. If I can convine hubby, I'll probably try to swing private kindergarten...
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermary
I'm pulling a full-on "Risky Business" routine around the house today, dancing around half-dressed. Today is the very first day of full-day kindergarden for my son. I'm so damn happy I could puke.
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
I felt exactly the same way when my daughter did half day kindergarten after full-day preschool. I also worried she'd get used to that minimal sort of schedule and then balk at full day again when she hit first grade. However, looking back I will say this. Try to enjoy your time with Henry this school year because you won't get it again. Before you know it he will be school all day every day and will have activities, friends, sports, etc. and your time together will be much more limited. That said, when my son goes to kindergarten next year I'm not sure if I'll follow my own advice or sign him up for the "enrichment" program a few days a week!

August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I can honestly say that, when we decided my daughter needed another year of pre-school to mature before going to kindy, I came home and cried my eyes out because I could see two more years of half-days stretched out before me. I'm so ready for both of my children to be in school full-time. Unless our kindergarten program goes to full days by next school year, I'm looking at 2 hours, 20 minutes 4 times a week this year and 2 hours, 40 minutes, 5 times a week the next. Yep, I so get what you're saying about these "half-day shenanigans."
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKeara
You should inquire as to whether there is some sort of part-time custodial position available at the school. Henry is an industrious fellow and the extra income might come in handy. Plus, think of the extra writing time. I think this could be a win win.
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. G.
kind of like the idea of half day as it means they are feeding into my belief that my baby is not ready to grow up. So wrong, so wrong. I know.

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