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Starting School: Tips to Ease the Transition

Pre-schooler starting school? Help the transition with open dialog supported by on-point books. Here are 4 ideas to ease the process:

  1. Acknowledge: Let your child know lots of people feel scared about something new, and refer to characters in books that have gone through new adventures. Listen, repeat what they say, and agree.

  2. Label: Excited, scared, nervous, happy, sad, confused, worried, shy, etc. Tell your kid its normal have these emotions and point to characters that have these feelings. Providing vocabulary is critical to help kids handle stress.

  3. Visualize: Gather about 3 books about starting school. Have your child look at what's in the classrooms of each book - what's familiar (blocks, chair, crayons), what's cool (easel, craft supplies, furniture) and who's there (teacher, classroom pet, classmates). Dissecting the environment will help your kid be in observation mode vs fear mode when entering their classroom.

  4. Good-byes: Use books to help create (or copy) a special good-bye routine. Daniel Tiger's Ooga-Mooga, Chester's Kissing Hand, etc create a transition signal and give a special dose of intimacy before your child faces the day's new adventure.

In addition, here are our favorite 3 books for back to school preparation. They help with all of the tips above, and provide ample opportunity to explore the challenges and excitement of school!

1. Chu's First Day of School

Based on the NY Times bestseller, Chu's Day, this book speaks to a universal anxiety about fitting in. Chu's monstrous sneezes make him nervous about what others will think of him.

2. Daniel Goes to School

While not the most sophisticated book, this one is excellent for its simplicity. Daniel is nervous about his dad leaving at drop off, and is comforted by the phrase "grownups always come back". A straight-forward depiction of a first day, this book gives parents lots of opportunities to discuss the various steps: arriving, classroom, classmates, teachers, goodbye, interactions, lunch, and pickup.

3. The Kissing Hand

A NY Times Bestseller from 1993, this classic speaks to the delicate emotions of saying goodbye but knowing your grown-up is always close to your heart.

Good luck, and stay positive! We all survived our first day of school and your child will too!

Visit our full list of books about starting school here.

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