We are so excited to welcome all our students back to school every day. Children naturally crave structure and predictability. The transition from home to school is one that can be a bit tricky at first. There are some great resources available for making that transition easier for your child and your family. A great way to prepare children for what to expect is by using literature!
One of my favorite books about returning to school is called The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This book highlights a little raccoon named Chester who is worried about leaving his mom to go to school. His mom shares something special with him called the kissing hand. She kisses the palm of his hand and tells him whenever he feels lonely to press his palm to his face and that will remind him that mommy loves him. A great activity to do with your child after reading this book is to imagine what their first day of school might look like. Brainstorm things together that might be exciting, fun, and challenging. Allow your child to verbalize some hesitations they might have and then pray together with them about those. You can also get them to imagine they are the teacher in the story and they are writing a letter to Chester to tell him about what to expect. Walk through a typical school day with your child and highlight areas that will be fun and exciting. This will help your child plan for how to handle new things, like lunch time, bathroom breaks, and school work. You can even create a visual schedule with pictures!
Some other great children’s books about returning to school are:
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
The Night Before Preschool (Kindergarten) by Natasha Wing
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
When you are thinking about your new morning routine it is important to practice, practice, practice. Have your child help you come up with a list of things they would need to do in the morning before school. Create a visual chart that can help them to remember these items. You can even make it fun by letting your child put a sticker next to each item after they have completed it. Take a day or two before school starts to practice that morning routine so it is not new on the first day.
Practice self help skills at home like going to the bathroom and hand washing. It is important that younger students are set up for success! Dress them in clothing that is easy to get on and off in the bathroom. Let them practice going through the steps on their own. The teachers will always be there to help but it is such a confidence builder when the children can do it by themselves! Also practice good handwashing: turning on the water, wetting their hands, getting soap, washing, rinsing, and drying. I always like to make hand washing fun by encouraging the children to sing the alphabet song or Happy Birthday (twice). Remember to encourage your child to wash palms, backs of their hands, and in between their fingers.
Give your child ownership of the process! Let them help you shop for school supplies, back to school clothing, and lunch items. School supply shopping has always been my favorite since I was a child! Picking out a new backpack or lunch box can be an exciting start to the school year.
Most importantly know that we are all in this together! With lots of prayer and grace we will build a wonderful foundation for the school year.