CLEAR THE CALENDAR
Children don't really need a slew of extracurricular activities; even a half day of school can be stimulation enough. Exhausted, stressed-out kids have a harder time adjusting to school. So don't sign up your child for anything unless she's wildly enthusiastic and begging to go. And if she changes her mind, let her quit.
Schwartz says she made a mistake when she paid for an entire year's worth of dance lessons for her son when he was 5. "He really wanted to do it, but when it was time to go to class, he'd be playing with his brothers and I'd practically have to rip him away," she explains. "If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't pay for the whole year in advance."
The best judge of how much structured activity a young child should have is the child herself. She'll let you know what she needs. If you sign her up for swimming lessons and she stands on the edge of the pool crying, try again next year.
By following these seven tips, the odds are I'll be able to help Elisabeth move smoothly from pre-K to kindergarten. Of course, if I do my job well, I'll be left with one of the happiest dilemmas of parenthood -- getting used to letting her go. Last year my husband took plenty of photos documenting Elisabeth's first day of school. All of them feature her beaming face, but none include me. I was too busy wiping away my tears in the potty room. I'm hoping that this year I'll finally be ready for the camera.