getting ready for kindergartenI started thinking about kindergarten pretty much as soon as my kid was born. It’s not that I was anxious for her to get out of the house, it was more that I was envisioning her adorably toting her too-huge backpack to my most favorite place in the world: school.

Projecting? Sure. Fortunately she loves school and also looks adorable with big backpacks, so there was no disappointment there. Thinking about kindergarten and getting ready for kindergarten are two totally different things, though, and there’s a lot of stuff that I wish I’d known before that fateful late-summer day.

1. No One Is Going To Come Find You

The first thing you have to do for kindergarten is get registered. Some schools do a kind of a public service announcement, but ours didn’t. You’re going to need stuff like proof of residence and you might have to sleuth out attendance zones and bus routes yourself.

2. The Office Staff Reigns Supreme

Seriously. Get to know the people up front, because they know what’s going on and where everyone is and how to get stuff done. Bring in some cookies and get ready to suck up.

3. Your Kid Will Have To Know Stuff Before They Go

Sometimes the school district will have a list of “kindergarten readiness” skills, like cutting with scissors, knowing letters, knowing colors, etc. None of this was a huge deal for us, since my daughter was a little older than her peers, but it’s good to know anyway. Besides that, if your kid is still a little afraid of the sound of the toilet flushing like mine was, you might, um, want to work on that.

4. It’s A Fine Balance Between Being “That Parent” And Being An Ally For Your Kid

One of the toughest parts about kindergarten was not wanting to be “that parent“–the one that is a thorn in the side of the teacher and probably shoots themselves in the foot by being so annoying–and wanting to be involved and an ally for your kid. Find it. The teacher is not the enemy.

5. Get Ready To Party

Christmas. Valentine’s. Boxing Day. Birthday party after birthday party after birthday party. All with stuff to buy and supply.

6. There Are Other Ways To Volunteer

I won’t join the PTA. I will never be room mom. If you’re like me but don’t want to be totally removed, offer to laminate stuff or make copies or cut crap out at home. That way you’re being helpful but you can do it while watching True Blood.