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First Day of Preschool Books: Ease the Transition

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 8/16/2014

Nervous about the first day of preschool? The children are, too! These first day of preschool books and extension activities, will help ease the transition from summer to school. As a bonus, try making your own first day of school books for preschoolers.

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    Books About Starting School

    The first day of a new experience can be scary. For preschoolers starting school for the first time, it can be downright terrifying. A new place, with children they've never met before and adults they don't recognize...many children will be very nervous on the first day of preschool.

    Reading books about what to expect in preschool can help ease the nerves of those new to your classroom. There are several books available that outline exactly what happens in a preschool classroom. Pick one to read to the children at your first morning circle time, that closely resembles the activities and routine you will follow in your classroom.

    • My First Day of Nursery School by Becky Edwards
    • Curious George's First Day of School by H. A. Rey
    • Mouse's First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
    • Vera's First Day of School by Vera Rosenberry
    • Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss

    After reading any of these books, ask children what they think they might do in preschool. Encourage any answers, and be open to discussing any fears the children may exhibit. This may also be a good time to show children the daily schedule so they know what to expect. Be sure that you remind children of the schedule several times a day. For example, "In five minutes, we will clean up our areas and be ready to go outside," or, "After we wash our hands, it will be time to sit down for lunch". Any reminders about what is coming up will help ease the transition and get the children used to the new schedule.

    Use the time after you introduce these books to take a tour of the classroom. Show children each of the centers and briefly explain what happens in each center. Show them the bathrooms, the outdoor play area, and the cubbies. The more familiar the children are with their new surroundings, the less scary it will be.

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    Books That Help With Separation Anxiety

    Easing separation anxiety is a key factor in ensuring a great first day of preschool. For many children, this will be the first time they are separated from their Moms and other primary caregivers. Many children will be scared and teary, and those that are not may become anxious at the sight of those who are tearing up.

    There are a lot of books to choose from that offer a hopeful message to preschoolers who suffer from separation anxiety. These first day of preschool books can be used throughout the entire transition from home to school, which may last several weeks for some children.

    • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
    • Don't Go! by Jane Breskin Zalben
    • When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman
    • Will You Come Back For Me? by Ann Tompert
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    The Kissing Hand Activities

    After looking at some books for the first day of preschool, you can expand on this by looking at extension activities.

    After reading The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, have the children create their own kissing hand. Explain that while they may miss Mom and Dad while they are at school, chances are that Mom and Dad miss them, too! Use construction paper and fingerpaint to make individual handprint pictures for each child. Place a heart sticker in the middle of the hand after the paint has dried. You can also draw one on with a permanent marker. Have the child write their name on the bottom of the paper and keep it in their cubby to bring home at the end of the day. When parents pick children up after the first day, ask if they would be willing to make a handprint kissing hand for their child. Using the same method, ask parents to make fingerpaint handprints and place a heart sticker in the middle of the palm. At the bottom of the page, have the parent write their child's name and either Mom or Dad. For example, underneath the handprint would read "Austin's Mom". Hang these pictures at the children's level and encourage children to visit them whenever they are feeling sad. Remind them that Mom or Dad always come back at the end of the day.

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    Create Your Own First Day of Preschool Books

    For the first week, at least, focus on the newness of preschool and the experiences the children will have in your classroom. Be aware that this transition from home to school may take several weeks and in that time, you will need to practice patience and understanding.

    After reading any of the books about starting school, tell the children that you are going to create your own first day of school books. Show the children your camera and tell them that you are going to take pictures of them during the day playing in centers, eating snacks, and even washing their hands. When the pictures are developed, use them to create a new First Day of Preschool book that highlights your classroom. Make sure you have at least one picture of each child in the classroom. Use heavy posterboard to mount the pictures and ask children what they are doing in each picture. Use the children's words to add text to your new book. When each page contains a picture and text, laminate the pages and use a hole punch and large round rings to bind the book. It is sure to become one of the most loved books in your classroom.

    Books for the first day of preschool are an excellent way of easing the transition from home to school environment, and the extension activities will make sure they are so occupied they'll be too busy to miss anybody.

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    "Story Stretchers: Activities To Expand Children's Favorite Books"; Shirley Raines and Robert J. Canady; 1989

    "Understanding Children"; Judith A. Shickedanz; 1993

    Personal teaching experience