Even the most independent children will likely feel some anxiety before starting school. For many, it is the first time they’ll be away from their home or family for an extended period. For others who may have gone to day care, preschool still means adjusting to a new routine and surroundings.
It’s natural for both you and your child to feel uncertain about what’s to come in preschool. Will it be easy to make friends? Will the teachers be understanding? Will the classroom feel welcoming and safe? Unfortunately, your mind won’t likely put at ease until you and your child step into their new classroom.
It will likely take several days or weeks before your child feels settled, but that doesn’t mean you have to simply sit back and wait. There are several ways to help you and your child prepare for the new year — even before day one.
One of the best ways to start the conversation about preschool and begin the transition to a new school year is with books. There are thousands of books written for children, and about children, to help them process some of their feelings about preschool. Many of these books are perfect for showing kids what to expect. They help start the discussion about the social aspects of going to school.
We’ve got several of the best back-to-school stories to help kids manage the transition to preschool and to give parents a platform from which to start important conversations about expected behaviors and how to treat new friends and teachers. Here are several of our favorites.
For Kids Who Struggle with Separation Anxiety: The Kissing Hand
First published in 1993, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, has become a classic. It’s perfect for kids who may struggle with separation anxiety. Chester Racoon is afraid to go to school because he knows he’ll miss his mother, so she lets him in on the family secret. She places a kiss in his hand and instructs him to touch his hand to his cheek whenever he misses her.
Kids love the reassuring message of this animal tale. It will help parents talk about how even when they are apart, they are always “with” their children.
For a Jokester: My School Stinks
Stuart is nervous about starting school because he’s not sure what to expect. He never expects to end up in a class with all animals! With humor and engaging drawings, kids will find Stuart’s day hilarious. But this lighthearted story also has an important message about acceptance and judging people before you get to know them.
Parents can help kids understand that all new students will feel uncertain but finding friends will be easy if they keep an open mind.
For Kids Who Like the Classics: Corduroy Goes to School
Cuddly bear Corduroy will bring a smile to any preschooler’s face. When Corduroy goes to school, he has lots of activities to keep him busy. In this lift-the-flap book, kids can explore Corduroy’s classroom, uncover all the interesting toys and games, and get excited about learning. There is a lot of new changes that preschool brings but Corduroy’s familiar face will help put kids at ease.
Parents will love watching their kids discover all that school has to offer as they get a sneak peek into Corduroy’s world.
For Kids Who May Feel Different: The Day You Begin
Even preschoolers can know what it means to feel different from other children. Starting school may be the first time they encounter kids who don’t look, speak, or act like they do. It can be disorienting and make kids feel fearful about going to school. Jacqueline Woodson’s story about Angelina, who is trying to figure out how she fits into her community will help kids understand it’s our differences that make us special. We are all different and that is something to celebrate.
This is an excellent book to revisit as your kids grow as they will find more complexities as they mature. It’s one to keep on the book shelf for years to come.
For Anyone: The Night Before Preschool
As the name suggests, this sweet story is about a little boy named Billy who is struggling to fall asleep on the night before his fist day of preschool. He’s too nervous about all the unknowns like what his teacher will be like or if he will make friends. Billy ends up having a fantastic time at school but still can’t fall asleep…he’s too excited about returning!
With fun illustrations, The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing will put any anxious kiddo at ease. They’ll learn the feelings they have are completely normal and probably shared by most of the other kids in the class. They’ll also learn that preschool is filled with interesting activities, kind adults, and lots of new friends.
Head to your local library or book stairs and pick up a few (or all!) of these titles to get your little one excited about heading to preschool!