The first day of school can be scary, exciting, exhausting -- in other words, full of emotions for parents and children. Some children eagerly anticipate the first day, lovingly rearranging the contents of their bookbag for the tenth time and picking out the perfect outfit. Others dread it and pepper conversations with questions about classrooms, schedules, and asking again exactly why they have to leave home. And still others don't really grasp what you mean when you say school, and don't have a very firm idea of what is about to become their new reality.
Children's books are a valuable tool in situations where concepts need to be presented in easy-to-understand language, with vivid pictures that illustrate ideas for young learners. There are children's books for almost any event, with artwork that speaks to people of all ages and tastes. More than just bedtime stories, picture books introduce children to new environments and model expected behavior while the child is free to merely watch, with no expectations on them.If you have a rising kindergartener, it is a good idea to include some kindergarten introduction books in your reading routine. Here are some of our favorites.
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, by Joseph SlateThis fun little book is packed to the gills with goodness. It features a kindergarten teacher, Miss Kindergarten, preparing her classroom for her students, who have names starting with every letter of the alphabet, from A-Z. The students all have different things they must do to get ready for the first day, as does Miss Bindergarten as she transforms her dull classroom to one that welcomes students on their big day. This book presents school as a fun and positive experience, and sweetly drawn animal characters add to the feeling of comfort. As an added bonus, adult readers can help children notice specific changes to the classroom over the course of the book and touch on concepts of cause and effect. Illustrations of a clock accurately show the passage of time from page to page as the day progresses. Rhyming text allows children to tune into the different and same sounds in words. And finally, this lovely book offers opportunities to discuss how everyone has different perspectives of the same event.
How Do Dinosaurs Go To School?, by Jane Yolen
Yolen almost never fails to produce charming and thoughtful books, and with enough books to her name as days of the year, she has a story for every age group and genre. This one, part of a series, shows realistically drawn dinosaurs going through a day at school. It approaches questions around correct behavior and uncertain situations through silly dino choices and deftly crafted script using rhythm and rhyme. This book also includes a description of each dinosaur and its official name. For children who may struggle with how to act in new situations, or for those who are in love with dinosaurs, this is a choice selection.
TIP: Even after the first day of school, if you notice your child is finding it challenging to follow classroom expectations, review this book with them. Chances are, they know how to act when removed from the situation but forget in the moment. Each week, pick a behavior to work on, illustrated by a dinosaur. Use Kenson Kids' "I Can Do It!" Reward Chart and behavior/family supplemental pack to create a personalized chart that will show progress toward learning new positive social habits. Communicate daily with your child's teacher to continue reinforcing the skills they're learning in the classroom.
What Will I Do if I Can't Tie My Shoe?, by Heidi Kilgras
What is no big deal for grown-ups can be a very big deal to a kindergartener. Knowing how to tie shoes is a huge milestone. But what if your child hasn't mastered this essential skill yet? That's okay! Most K-1 classrooms work on how to tie shoes, and parents can reinforce this at home. In this book, the young boy wants to learn, tries, and tries again. With brightly colored illustrations and directions for how to tie, the rhyming structure also give opportunities for children to practice concepts of sequence and listening comprehension incorporated with fine motor skills.
Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
If your child has an uncommon name, this is the book for them! Little Chrysanthemum is excited about starting school, but when she meets new classmates they don't know what to make of her exotic name. Some ask to smell her, others shun her. Right when Chrysanthemum is feeling quite down, the students go to a favorite class and meet their new teacher, Miss Philodendron, and suddenly Chrysanthemum's name isn't so unusual. This book touches on social-emotional learning themes like bullying, how words can hurt, and how to react when one feels unaccepted. Chrysanthemum opens a door for parents to discuss how children might stand up for themselves and others, and be proud of features others may find different.
Starting school means different things for every student. But what remains the same is that your kindergartener is at an age of increasing independence and budding responsibilities. Like some of the students in Miss Bindergarten's class, your little one will need to follow through on tasks like preparing clothes for tomorrow, brushing teeth, and packing lunch. The "I Can Do It" My Daily Checklist provides structure and organization for what can be a hectic time after lazy summer schedules. Using a visual aid with clearly defined tasks takes some of the pressure off already overloaded brains and gives children a sense of success while building new, responsible habits.