back to school: Moms face mixed emotions when kids start kindergarten

Special to her magazineAugust 1, 2012 

When Macie Pierce and Ella Hudson, both 5, start kindergarten this month, their mothers will have mixed emotions at seeing their first daughters passing this milestone -- going to a big-kid school.

Mandy Pierce, who is expecting her second child in September, said Macie is excited about starting school at Clubview Elementary because she has always liked pre-school at St. Thomas Day School.

"It's a bittersweet rite of passage," Pierce said recently. "I'm excited for her."

Pierce is confident that Macie got what she needs in pre-school to be prepared for kindergarten, commenting, "She's starting kindergarten knowing more than I knew in second grade!"

Pierce and her husband Jason thought about where they wanted Macie to start school, considering Clubview, Britt David and St. Luke before deciding on Clubview. Pierce said she got a lot of advice from friends on where her daughter should go, but they finally settled on their neighborhood school, which has an international baccalaureate program.

"We were pleased with all of them," Pierce said.

The biggest difference Pierce sees in pre-school and kindergarten is that the day will be longer, and going to school will not be a choice anymore.

"It's going to change our lifestyle dramatically," she said. Now the family will have to take vacations during spring break and the summer, when school is out and places are crowded. They took advantage of their last year of freedom by going to Disney World in late April, she added.

Also, homework was optional at St. Thomas, but it will be required in kindergarten.

The Pierces will go to verification day in early August before starting school to meet Macie's teacher and visit the classroom. They've already looked at the uniforms, which are different colors on different days.

"I have a friend who's going to pass down certain things," Pierce said.

Fortunately, Pierce will be able to go into the classroom with Macie on her first day of school and will be able to drop her off every day.

"I'm sure I'll be a little emotional," Pierce said.

Likewise, Michelle Hudson has mixed feelings about Ella starting school. She and husband Jeff have another daughter, Avery, who's 2.

Ella also has attended pre-school before she starts kindergarten at St. Luke.

"She's loved it. She loved school -- she's my studious child," Hudson said recently, adding, "She is super-excited."

Hudson said, "I'm excited for her. It's emotional for me; it's a new chapter in her life. The amount of time she'll be in school each day will be longer."

Hudson doesn't feel like she'll have to worry about Ella doing her homework because she loves learning.

"I'm going to try to enjoy every moment along with her," Hudson said. "I'm going to help her have as much fun with it as I can."

The Hudsons have already met Ella's teacher and stopped by her classroom, although they will officially visit on Aug. 9th.

"I hope I can go into the classroom with her the first day," Hudson said. "I'm sure I'll be trying to fight back tears."

She recently read "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch to Ella and it helped sum up her feelings about her daughter going to school. In a nutshell, the short book is about the circle of life, how a baby held by his mother grows up to become a man holding his mother.

"When I read it to her, I had tears all down my face. It's a good description of my feelings about her starting this new chapter in her life," Hudson said.

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