During the heart of the summertime heat, it seems odd thinking about going back to school. But summer seems to take forever to come and then at the blink of an eye, the sound of school bells seem to be ringing throughout the land.
The thought of a new school year is often embraced. It can represent the excitement of new beginnings, and fresh starts. It can also however, and often is met with anxiety... New school perhaps, new friends, new teachers, new rules, homework, and so many other uncertainties that can float through our children's minds and taint the excitement.
The literature on this subject supports the theory that back to school anxiety usually has more to do with social concerns rather than academic ones. In other words, your child's back to school worries probably centre more around social situations that may arise at school and less around work-related fears.
Anxiety and back to school jitters are normal and even healthy to a certain degree. How can we as parents ease our children through this transition? I can only speak from personal experience, and as a writer and book reviewer, it should come as no surprise that when I needed help easing my children into a new school year, I turned to books.
This topic is so important to me that I even wrote a children's book about it. While I can't ask you to rely on my still unpublished book, there are a couple of books in particular that I found very helpful for preschool aged and younger grade children.
Franklin Goes to School -- The Franklin series, written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark are wonderful stories for children and irreplaceable resources for parents. In this particular book, Franklin is nervous about starting school. It seems that all his friends are ready and excited, but not Franklin. His tummy doesn't feel so good and he's filled with doubt and uncertainty. It's a wonderfully written story, as all the books in the Franklin series and it really opens the door for you to speak to your child about their anxieties. The language and concepts are so kid-friendly which makes Franklin such a great character to whom your child can relate.
Wemberly Worried -- Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is another great book to ease back to school anxieties. Wemberly the mouse worries about everything: small stuff and big stuff and everything in between, but nothing has worried Wemberly more than starting school. I love this book! In this story, Henkes touches perfectly on the fact that social situations are what kids fear most when starting a new school year. Wemberly wonders if she'll be the only one with a stuffed animal, she worries about making friends, and so much more. Through this story, Henkes does a spectacular job of taking the reader through Wemberly's first day, and how her day evolves into a positive and almost worry-free experience.
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don't) -- This book, by Barbara Bottner, is fantastic for kids who really don't like books. It's is a wonderful tribute to the wonderful diversity of children's books and it really highlights the fact that there's truly something for everyone. This is a great back to school book to get your not so eager reader back in the groove.
Preparing our kids for school is so much more than packing their lunch bags and backpacks. We as parents need to speak to our children about their fears, worries and concerns in whatever ways will most effectively resonate with our children. Books are a wonderful resource, and while butterflies will certainly be fluttering in millions of tummies come September, I hope our children can take some comfort from our efforts to prepare them, whatever methods we choose. I wish all our children and teachers and school librarians a happy, healthy and wonderful school year!