Sometime in August, children begin to feel anxious. It might be a happy and exciting type of feeling or a feeling of dread and uncertainty. There are several books available with a “starting school” theme. Choose one that is appropriate for the age of your child. Knowing that you are interested in how they feel is a big step to conquering the fear.
I Don’t Want to Go Back to School by Marisabina Russo
Summer is almost over and Ben, who is going into second grade, has some fears. Will his friends remember him? Is his new male teacher, Mr. Johnson, really mean? What if he doesn’t know the answer when the teacher calls on him? His older sister, Hannah, isn’t helping matters by suggesting some of the bad things that could happen.
When he gets to school, Ben finds that his two best friends are in another class. Then he really feels alone and nervous. But when he enters the classroom, he sees a boy he knows. His teacher shows the class the pet lizard. They all play a game and the teacher reads a book using funny voices. Ben even finds South America on the map and Mr. Johnson praises him. This teacher is not so bad. Ben even remembers where his bus stop is and finds his mom waiting for him. School is not so bad after all!
This book is great for you and your child to read together. Ask your child what fears he has about going back to school. Listen to the child. Do not make the child feel silly for having these worries. Together, come up with practical solutions to quell the fears.
Starting School with an Enemy by Elisa Carbone
Sarah’s family has moved to a different state and she is dreading starting fifth grade in a new school. Before school starts, she has a mishap with a young neighborhood boy and now his older brother (a sixth grader!) is out to get her.
Sarah is written as a strong character and therefore a good role model for readers. She enjoys sports and wants to do the right thing. But how does she solve the problem with this enemy? Fighting him back keeps getting her in trouble and she is in jeopardy of losing the only friend she has. She finally learns that ignoring the bully, though hard to do, is the most effective way to deal with the situation.
This book is written for fourth grade through sixth grade students. Sarah is the narrator of the story. She is funny yet determined. The lesson that she learns does not come easily. It can be a book to help start a family conversation about bullies.
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Wemberly is starting preschool and she is worried. Actually Wemberly worries about everything. Big things and small things. She carries her security doll and blanket. She checks on her parents at night to see if they are still there. Most of all she worries about all the things that might go wrong in school. She meets a friend and has an understanding teacher. Will this help?
This book is good because it helps a child realize that she is not the only one who has anxieties and worries, especially when it is time to start school. For a parent, you will realize that things, which seem insignificant to us, may be a big worry for a little one. Reading the book will hopefully serve as a springboard for your child to open up and talk about the concerns she has.
No Copycats Allowed! by Bonnie Graves
Gabrielle tries to wins friends by doing what they do. Same hairstyle. Same interests. But when her peers call her a copycat, she is so embarrassed that she runs away. How will she be convinced to just be herself?
If you have a child in first, second or third grade this will be a great book to read and discuss. Even adults try to fit in with their peers and often it backfires. Is it better to blend in with the crowd or be an individual?
Arthur’s Back-To-School Surprise by Marc Brown
Here’s a good book if you have more than one child going to school. The older child is trying to spread his wings and be independent while the younger child is a copy-cat. Arthur is trying to be cool on the first day. His friends are in his classroom and he is excited about getting started. Then he opens his backpack and finds his sister’s talking stuffed animal. All his classmates laugh at him.
This may be a cartoon character book but it hits a sensitive issue for children. No one likes to be laughed at or teased. Discuss with your child a time when you were teased and how you felt. Ask the child to share a time when it happened to him/her. It is important to remind your child how hurtful teasing can be. In Arthur’s situation it may have been best just to laugh along with everyone else and then forget about it. Sometimes, though, that response is not easy.
Sitting down with your child to read a "starting school" book can prove to be a wonderful time for you and your child. Share stories about your own school days and answer your child’s questions and concerns.