By Elizabeth Stilwell, Early Childhood Specialist, Family Reading Partnership
It’s hard to imagine, but 3.7 million five year olds (and their families!) are starting kindergarten this school year in the US. Locally there are more than 1,000 children starting school in Tompkins County, NY. Many of these young children have attended a childcare or preschool program, but going to kindergarten is a big transition. Riding the bus, entering a big school building, and managing many transitions throughout the day are new experiences for most children. Helping your child know what to expect before they cross the threshold can help pave the way for a smooth start. But how can you do it, especially when your own heart is pounding in your chest?
Reading picture books about starting school can create opportunities for children to discuss their worries, and talk about all the wonderful new things they are about to experience. Encouraging your child to ask questions and talk about their expectations will offer opportunities for you to calm their fears and help them look forward to this new adventure.
Here are some wonderful books to help you get the conversation started:
- “First Day” by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. This fun picture book gives children the opportunity to encourage their fretting parents and remind them that change can be a good thing!
- “Starting School,” by Jane Godwin, covers new routines, new people, and new surroundings in a way that is positive and inclusive, helping children to see that they aren’t so different from the other kids who are starting at school.
- “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Anna Walker. This little book captures the excitement and anticipation of the first day of school. Details about how kids pack up their school supplies, lay out clothes, and then bound off to school the next morning are right on target!
- “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This book shows how a teacher gets her classroom ready to welcome her new kindergarten students. All of the characters are animals…but that doesn’t seem to bother children at all, in fact they love the whimsical feel of the book.
So why not plan a trip to your local library and check out their collection of books on starting school? You might find that reading these books together will help calm your own worries along with your child’s!