As I write this, there are 112 days until my son starts kindergarten. 

*wipes away tears* 

Just over 100 days until my baby is…definitely no longer a baby. Am I ready? Absolutely not. Is my son ready? Honestly, I’m not sure. 

My son, Nash, has been in child care since he was an infant. The early childhood educators at Nash’s child care center are incredible, caring teachers, and he stayed at the center for preschool because I knew that his teachers would make sure he was working on the skills he would need to enter kindergarten. I was confident that Nash would be kindergarten-ready. 

Then the pandemic hit. My husband and I chose to keep Nash home for over a year, and we learned two things: 1. We are not the compassionate, qualified teachers that our son was used to, and 2. It is impossible to work and teach a child at the same time. We were no substitute for his preschool. Like so many other Kentucky parents, we did what we could and hope it is enough. 

Nash has been back at preschool for six days, and he is thriving. Will he be able to make up what he missed—from sight words to socioemotional skills—in the next 112 days? No. But all of us, including Nash, have done what we could to help him start strong in kindergarten. 

Every parent wants their child to start school ready to learn. Some caregivers work one-on-one with their kid to help prepare them, while others—like me—count on the professionals at child care centers, private preschool programs, or Head Start. No matter how a parent wants to prepare their child, let’s make sure they all have access to quality, affordable early childhood programming. 

My personal kindergarten-readiness checklist? Tissues. A shoulder to cry on. The promise of hugs from my baby…even if he’s a big kid now. 

Each year, April 21st is recognized as National Kindergarten Day. In Kentucky, the latest data featured in the 2020 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book tells us that 51 percent of kindergartners are considered ready to learn. See how your child’s school district measures up in kindergarten readiness in your county’s data profile