Is there a 5-year-old in your family? If yes, chances are that child has just headed to kindergarten. Some children sail right into new experiences, places, and groups of children, but there are others who take things a little more slowly, or who have expectations of kindergarten that don’t match up with reality.
Even in the same family, children might react very differently. For example, one of my children sobbed and clung to me at the classroom door the first day of kindergarten even though they had two years of preschool. Another one went happily into the classroom. Their expectation though was once they got into school, they’d have a desk of their own. Instead of desks all they saw were tables pushed together where four children would sit together – not what they were looking forward to.
For both children and parents, the level of noise in kindergarten classrooms can be a bit overwhelming. One child I know described the teacher as “yell-y” on the first day and wasn’t sure they would like that teacher.
No matter what YOUR child’s experience, there are books you can read together that can reassure your child their feelings are shared by other children and provide ideas for actions you can take. While several of these books talk about the first day of kindergarten, children’s “first-day jitters” are likely to extend beyond the first day or may pop up from time to time. You may already have some of these books in your home through Imagination Library, and you may be able to get others through your local library or the Alaska State Library system.
First Day Critter Jitters by Jory John – It’s almost the first day of school, and the animals are nervous. But by the next day, the animals have all figured out how to help one another through their jitters. School isn’t so scary after all.
Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney (past book) – Throughout the school day, the teacher helps Llama Llama and the other children practice their letters, shows word cards, reads stories, and brings them to the library where they can all choose a favorite book. By the end of the day, Llama Llama is recognizing words and can’t wait to show Mama Llama that he’s becoming a reader!
The Rabbit that Listened by Cori Doerrfeld – When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn – When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.
The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes – Instilled with confidence by her parents, a young girl has a great first day of kindergarten.
Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka – Oliver and Dad have spent a fun summer together but when it comes time for the first day of school, Dad discovers that he is not ready and does everything he can to postpone the big day.
Puppy Bus by Drew Brockington – A boy, worried about his first day at a new school, finds himself on the wrong bus, a bus full of puppies bound for Puppy School — and discovers that despite the strange food and even weirder bathroom Puppy School is a lot of fun.
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton – Vanessa is nervous she will not fit in on her first day of school, but she hopes a special outfit will show her new classmates she is someone they should know.
Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri – English just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers her native Spanish. As she prepares for a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn. Her first day is uncomfortable, until she employs her crayons and discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with new friends.
Kindergarten : Where Kindness Matters Every Day by Vera Ahiyya – Leo, a quiet kid who is not ready for his first day of kindergarten, ends up having a great day when he makes a kindness pledge and discovers he knows a lot about being kind to others.
Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt – A young child imagines going off to Kindergarten as a journey to another planet.
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems – The pigeon must go to school, but frets about math, learning the alphabet, heavy backpacks, and what the teacher and other birds will think of him.