The Year Before Kindergarten

Coping Skills for Parents & Activities for Preschoolers

By Courtney Daly-Pavone August 31, 2018

I remember the year before Kindergarten vividly.  It loomed like a deadline in my life.  On one hand I fretted over the applications I sent out to various schools, and on the other hand I pondered over the vast number of academic choices.  I looked forward to full-time school, but knew in my heart I would miss my child and our carefree days of play dates in the park, and story time at the library.  The year before Kindergarten would be our last year together.  "They really grow up in Kindergarten," other parents forewarned.  At the same time I noticed a change in my child.  His need to learn, socialize, and keep busy was more than I could seem to handle.  We increased the amount of time he was in preschool, but it still didn't seem to be enough.  Time at home indoors soon became impossible, and I felt like I was at wits end. Thankfully, like many stages in life, I learned I just had to up my game as a parent. 

If you follow this website you are probably already familiar with a number of free, and low-cost resources available to your child. I found it was helpful to have something planned every day just to get out of the house, talk to other parents, and have my child socialize with their peers.  This was for both my sanity, and for the sake of my child. At story time I met a mom who worked from home and confessed she would lose it in her house with her four-year-old daughter if they didn't go outside every day.  I found that shocking since her child seemed so quiet and demure.  It was then that I realized my feelings weren't unique, but universal.  

Here are some tips on how to enjoy that final year, and make the most of your time together it goes by fast.

It's Easier to Have a Play Date For You and Your Kid

Play dates are awesome when you also enjoy spending time with the parents of your child's friend.  In an age when children cannot play outdoors alone, it is important that you also have a chance to enjoy your time with another adult and have a real conversation.  

Check Out Your Local Recreation Center

San Diego Recreation Centers have tons of classes daily offering everything from Pee-Wee Sports to Cooking for as little as $20 per month some classes are even free! Visit:

Free Preschool

San Diego Continuing Education offers Preschool Experience classes.  If you are looking for academic enrichment, socialization, and parenting classes look no further.  These classes are parent involved, this is not a drop-off preschool, but they are very academic and they do an excellent job preparing children for Kindergarten. Visit:

Free Outdoor School

Mesa College also offers Outdoor Classes for Preschoolers.  The classes are held in local parks, and include circle time, story time, crafts, and free play.  *Also parent involved not a drop-off. Visit:

Chuck E. Cheese's

Chuck E. Cheese's is great on a rainy day, or a super hot day, and for a kid basically anytime.  At the Midway location, children and parents arms are stamped with an invisible matching number, and there is always a worker at the entrance.  Kids can run around and play games while you can enjoy a cup of coffee with another parent.  It's pretty quiet most weekday mornings, so your kid won't get lost in a crowd. Visit:

Ikea Smaland

Another mom introduced me to Ikea Smaland years ago.  She invited me for a free cup of coffee at Ikea (free for all Ikea members), and we checked our kids in at Smaland a complimentary child watch service for customers of the store (up to three hours for Ikea members).  You must remain at Ikea while your child is at Smaland.  They will page you if there is an emergency.  Your child must also be toilet trained. It was great to have an adult conversation without a thousand interruptions, and the kids had fun playing with Ikea toys, craft making and watching cartoons. Visit:

Indoor Gyms

Indoor gyms that are safe for toddlers and preschoolers like the Playground in La Mesa, and Kid Ventures (Eastlake, and Liberty Station) are great places for kids to let loose, and for parents to get a break.  Gym mats cover the floor, playhouses, slides, and toys fill the gated play area.  Parents can stay on-site while their kids play. There is a seating area where you can plug in and get some work done, read a book, or hang out with a friend while your child plays with other children. Visit:

Meet-up & Facebook Groups

There are hundreds of parenting groups on social media where you can attend play dates with kids and their parents.  No matter what your interest, there's a group for that.  It's a wonderful way to meet new people, and have your child socialize with others.

I met some of my best friends through my child.  It was at story time at the library that I met two close friends.  Preschool was also a wonderful place where parents congregated and shared ideas.  Don't be afraid to explore new classes, parks, beaches, and playgroups.  At this age you are the center of your child's world, but you must prepare them for the world outside.  While this prospect can at times seem daunting, it is a glorious, magical period that you will always remember.

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