Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom partnered with The Motherhood and Bolthouse Farms Kids™ to share about the #SnackMob coming to town. Although some form of compensation has been received, all opinions remain my own.

Dear Diary,

Hundreds of kindergartners converged on the lawns of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh yesterday. The received free entrance in celebration of the Here I Come Kindergarten annual event. Before they went inside, they received a delicious and nutritious treat from Bolthouse Farms Kids™ #SnackMob truck. I bumped into Medina Jackson, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Pathways to Kindergarten Success at the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development. We sampled Strawberry Meets Banana Smoothie and Carrot Meets Ranch Veggie Snackers.

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Her little boy–correction, big kid, is heading to kindergarten this year. I shared how my daughter would embark on her second year of preschool and how I wasn’t ready for her to grow up. Medina’s job is to get parents ready. And she gets help from her job’s mascot–Ready Freddy. The Ready Freddy Program was created in collaboration with Pittsburgh Public Schools–my former workplace, engaged parents and community partners. Before the program, school administrators and teachers reported that 75 percent of eligible children did not enrolled in kindergarten on time. According to researchers, when kids enroll late and are chronically absent, they miss critical components of early learning and are at greater risk for failing and dropping out. To address these low enrollment numbers, parents, schools and community agencies reached out to families and raised. awareness. The result: on-time enrollment tripled in just one year!

Here’s how I plan to prepare for Caitlynn to go to kindergartner next year.

1. Serve up Brain Food

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Don’t start school without snacks! When Caitlynn is hungry or tired, she gets antsy. Kids concentrate much more and work harder when their tummies are filled with nutritious food, like Bolthouse Farms Farms Kids™. The refrigerated line of real fruit and veggie snacks can be found in the produce section of your local Giant Eagle store. You can print out a coupon here. The line contains no added preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors, and all the items are low in calories. We’ve replaced chips with individual sized veggie snack bags. It’s packed with tremendous flavor, all-natural seasoning and just a pinch of salt. We wash it down with the fruit smoothies that contain 1 ½ servings of fruit per 6-oz bottle and no dairy. If your packing a lunch for your child, these are options she’ll definitely enjoy.

2.  Make a Smooth Transition

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First, be sure to complete the required paperwork. Have you submitted immunization information? Did you fill out transportation forms if your child is riding the bus? Also, try to find and participate in transition activities, like Here I Come Kindergarten and school tours. Before school starts, pack your child’s backpack and get his clothes ready for the week. Create a bedtime routine–bath, brush teeth and read a book. If ready Freddy is scheduled to visit your child’s school, be sure to talk about the fanfare that will take place. This prepares your child to greet the costumed character and cheering crowd. Talk to your child about being a big kid and no longer needing nap time at school.

3. Introduce Your Child to His New Teacher

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Who knows your child better than you? Talking to the school about your child’s strengths and needs is a great way to help him succeed in school. You can also share information with your child’s teacher from your child’s perspective using free, downloadable worksheets on the Ready Freddy website.  Check out the All About Me activity packet and the ABC’s of my Child. You know your child best.

Before you go back to school, be sure to end the summer with a fun activity! Bolthouse Farms’ #SnackMob truck is making its rounds throughout the Pittsburgh area, spreading snacks and joy. From now through September 10, 2015, Pittsburghers are invited to enter for a chance to win a #SnackMob visit to their local event. It’s complete with free Bolthouse Farms Kids snacks. Simply tweet @BolthouseFarms using hashtag #SnackMob #Contest with the date and type of event you want us to stop at. Winners will be selected on a weekly basis via Twitter. For more information and contest rules, click here.

Hey DFTM Fam–Let us know how you’re getting ready to send the kids back to daycare or school? What should we add to our list?

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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