Is Your Child Anxious About Starting School?  These Great Reads Will Boost Their Spirits

Summer may not officially end until sometime in September, but most of us say goodbye to summer when we send our kids back to school.

Whether you’re sending your first child to kindergarten or your family has plenty of experience under your belt, starting a new school year is always a little frightening for our little ones.

They need reassurance and to know they are not alone, so what better way to ease the transition than with some of our favorite storybook characters who are going through the same thing?

Starting a new school year – or starting school for the first time altogether – can leave kids feeling anxious, especially at the thought of being away from home.

Riding the school bus for the first time, meeting new kids and teachers, and trying to find their way without Mom and Dad at their side can overwhelm even the most independent children.

Well, we’ve got a few favorites that your child is sure to relate to, and you can even get creative and make special snacks or crafts to go along with each book.  

So cuddle up, and let your kids know how much fun school can really be!

Seeing that big school bus pull up to take your child to school can cause major butterflies in the stomach – even for parents!

Since this is the first thing your child will see on their first day, introduce them to the fun of riding the bus with some great rhyming books.  The Itsy-Bitsy School Bus by Jeffrey Burton and Sanja Rescek is a take on the popular children’s song.

This board book is full of colorful and cheerful illustrations and takes your child through all the steps of what they can expect on their first day of school.

Or, here’s a twist – what if it’s the first day for the school bus?  In It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!, by Jody Jensen Shaffer and Claire Messer, the nervous bus goes through all of his safety checks to make sure things are perfect for the kids.

Will they like him?  What if they don’t?  This cute little bus is going through the same anxiety of any young school child, but they will find that everything will go smoothly in this encouraging little book.

There are plenty of fun songs and stories about the school bus, and you can even spend a day before school starts with some fun activities.  

Grab an old cardboard box and some paint or paper and let your child make their own school bus.  They can drive around a doll or stuffed animal in a small box “bus” or jump in one themselves with an extra-large one!  Let them take a “practice ride” in the bus, saying goodbye in the morning and then greeting you at the bus stop when they return!

Craft stores sell plenty of fun cookie cutters, so find a bus shape and use it to make sandwiches, cookies, or pancakes.  Don’t forget to sing all the verses of “The Wheels on the Bus” together!

Is your child worried about leaving you for the day?  Sending our little ones to school for the first time can be heartbreaking for both kids and parents.

The Kissing Hand is one of our favorites because it shows children that we are always with them, even when they are away.

Chester Raccoon is afraid to leave his mom to go to school, but she shows him a special way to remind him that she is close by.  Mother Raccoon kisses his hand and tells Chester that the kiss will stay there to ease his fears.

Try this every morning before school to add something special to your morning routine.  You can take it a step further by putting on some lipstick and giving a sticky note a “kiss.”  Place it in their backpack or lunchbox so they can pull it out when they’re feeling anxious.

The Kissing Hand isn’t just a great book for kids going to school;  its message is perfect for anytime you have to be away from your child – business trip, kids going to Grandma’s for the weekend…  anytime there is a transition, send your child with a “kiss” to remind them you’ll be together soon.

Lena is another loveable character who is very nervous about her first day of school – well, maybe she’s not, but her shoes sure are!

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous, by Keith Calabrese and Juana Medina, is about a little girl who tries to make herself feel better about the first day of school by giving her shoes a pep-talk.  Lena uses some of her other items of clothing to help her shoes get over their fear and have a great first day of Kindergarten!

This is a great book about courage and overcoming our fears.  Let your child give their first-day-of-school outfit a “pep-talk,” or role play with their favorite doll or stuffed animal to spread the encouragement and build confidence.

Talk about other times they may have been nervous and remind them that those situations turned out just fine.  Take it a step further by telling your child that their new school shoes or jacket need their “support” to get through the day!  

You can even purchase a small stuffed keychain to attach to their backpack (or keep inside of it) that will remind them to be brave and stay strong at school.

One of our favorite series takes dinosaurs out of their habitat and shows us how they would behave in a child’s shoes – from mealtime to bedtime to playtime.  

How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? is another silly read by Jane Nolan and Mark Teague that will remind your kids that there will be plenty of fun – and funny – moments during the school year.  What happens when a dinosaur tries to sit in a school desk or do an art project?  All kids love dinosaurs, and these characters will help your child with that feeling of not belonging.

These dinosaurs are totally out of their element in the classroom, but they don’t let that get to them.  They jump right in and create lots of laughs for their human classmates.

There are plenty of activities you can do to go along with this book!  Have your child act out the story with their toy dinosaurs.  Recreate the dinosaur’s attempts at art by dipping the feet of a plastic dino in paint and stomping a trail of footprints on paper.

Grab that dinosaur-shaped cookie cutter and pack a dino sandwich in their lunch, or use it to cut watermelon or cheese slices – or green-tinted sugar cookies, of course!

Reading is not just about the words in a book.  With a little imagination, you can bring the story to life in recipes, songs, crafts and games – and boost your child’s spirits in the process.

Help your child get a great start on this school year by matching some classic children’s stories to what they may be thinking or feeling.  There’s a great back-to-school storybook out there for every age and circumstance.

Check out your local library for some great books your child will love and look up resources online for recipe and craft ideas.

And for more classic back-to-school books to help put your child’s mind at ease, try a few more of Mommy Underground’s recommendations.

Reading together not only instills a love of learning in your child, but relatable, age-appropriate stories help build their confidence by preparing them for situations they will encounter in a fun way.

We wish you a happy and productive school year!

Do you have any favorite books for children who are starting school for the first time?  Leave us your recommendations!

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