High Five: Starting School

Whether your children are starting daycare, Preschool or Kindergarten, the first days can be hard. Kiddos may be nervous about being away from home, or they may have trouble following new rules or getting along with classmates. Reading books, singing songs and playing games about these first days can be a good way to help them feel more familiar and comfortable with the idea. This can also introduce kids to school-related vocabulary.

Lena’s Shoes are Nervous is a great book that helps children identify the emotions that they are feeling. Lena is excited to go to school, but her shoes are a different story. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a funny book about a dinosaur named Penelope who struggles to keep her teeth to herself, and it is helpful for conversations about new rules, how to make friends and an even more basic lesson: why we don’t bite people. For more back-to-school books check out this list.

School requires a lot of self-regulation skills: being able to remember rules and instructions, to wait to do things, to name and control emotions, and to talk to others and problem-solve with them. Bari Koral and Kira Willey have music about emotions and guided breathing exercises for children free to download on Freegal. You can also practice self-regulation through games and songs that require waiting and turn-taking. Turn-taking games like Chutes and Ladders require waiting patiently and give you an opportunity to practice counting.  The Bingo the Dog song requires concentration as the child waits for the right moment to clap. Mother May I, Freeze Dance and Red Light, Green Light are examples of games that help children practice listening carefully and waiting.

You can also play “Pretend School” to get your child used to the idea. Take turns being the teacher or the student and do typical activities like drawing, lining up, going to recess, taking naps, having lunch, singing songs or cleaning up after playtime. Stuffed animals or dolls can be classmates and participate with you. This will get your child used to the idea and help them associate it with having fun.

Change can be stressful - even good change - so taking the time to address feelings, talk about your own experiences in school and explore all of the fun things they can do in school will help ease your children into their school year. - Crystal (Downtown)