Entering daycare and preschool can be hard on a child. Up until their entrance into these programs, they've likely relied fully on you for physical and emotional support. While some children take easily to entrance into a daycare program or their first week of preschool, others can find it extremely hard and confusing to have to leave mom and dad, or other caregivers.
There are a number of fantastic ways to ease children into parting with their beloved and trusted caregivers. One of these ways is to read about this parting. Often, the best time to start with a book of this nature is prior to the start of their new care program. Take a week or two before heading off to daycare or preschool and select a couple quality books to read together. The right books give you fantastic quality time with your child, and help them to understand what going to daycare or preschool means, and understand that these partings are temporary. The best books will also teach that these programs are also fun, and a great way to make friends for a more enhanced social experience. While a child this age won't grasp the concept of important social relationships, they will begin to understand that friends are fun and can add to their overall enjoyment.
When reading, be sure to explain pictures and difficult concepts. Act out parts of the story with your child, or with their favorite toys. This helps to enhance the fun and understanding of the book, and gives your child a creative and emotional outlet to process the information. It may even help you and your child to form a parting routine that helps them throughout their days away from you.
The Best Books I've Found So Far
One of the best books I've found to teach my little one about being away from me, and about the joys of going to school and coming home, is called A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, and is written by Audrey Penn. In fact, this book has given me and my little one a great parting routine that he really enjoys.
Pick # 1: A Kissing Hand For Chester Raccoon
A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon deals with a little raccoon who is going to school for the first time. He begs his mother to allow him to stay at home with her, pleading his case by promising to play alone and be quiet. But, instead of giving in, his mother tells him about the "kissing hand," a magical little treat that will keep Chester safe, warm, and happy while he's away. She holds his hand out and kisses his palm, then closes his hand and tells him that the kiss will be with him all day, and that the kiss means mommy will be with him all day, even when she is physically away.
The story line is cute, the illustrations are gorgeous and fun, and the lesson learned is invaluable. This is a must have and must read for any child entering daycare or preschool, or any child who is already in these programs but struggling with goodbyes.
Pick # 2 : Maisy Goes to Preschool
Another fantastic choice for children is based on the lovable children's character Maisy, and her first experience with preschool. The book is called Maisy Goes to Preschool, and is written by Lucy Cousins.
The best part about this book is that it introduces the concept of preschool, teaches children about what preschool is, and shows that preschool can be fun. Better yet, it does it in a very positive way. For many children, focusing on the positive aspects of school can help to ease anxieties about it, and this book does a wonderful job of that. It doesn't dwell on mommy and daddy leaving, or the anxieties that Maisy ultimately has about that fact. Instead, it illustrates through simple language and beautifully colorful pictures, all the wonderful things that there are to look forward to when you go to preschool.
Additionally, because the book deals so heavily with the fun involved in preschool, it prepares your child for his entrance into preschool by creating excitement and anticipation. Try going through this book and discussing Maisy's activities. Act these out or try these activities at home. Then, ask your child what they are most looking forward to doing at school. Will they paint? Play outside? Read books with their teacher? Take naps? If your child is already in school or daycare, ask them what their favorite part is. What do they look forward to?
Pick # 3 : Bye-Bye Time
Bye-Bye Time is another fantastic book, and is written by Elizabeth Verdick. This book is geared toward the one to three year old set, but I've found it works wonderfully even for children of 10 years of age! Although simplistic for this age group, it helps to teach a great lesson about saying a temporary goodbye to a loved one.
Bye-Bye Time, as you may have guessed, deals with the subject matter of leaving a parent or caregiver. If your child is having trouble with saying goodbye, and wrapping his head around the basic concept of mom and/or dad leaving, books like Bye-Bye Time are great. The book address the concept of mom and dad leaving, but also emphasizes that mom and dad always come back.
Additionally, like A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, this book can help you to create a great goodbye routine, making parting from mom and dad easier. The book addresses all the feelings and emotions that a child may experience upon parting, as well as helps to introduce coping mechanisms for your child to enact. And, because this lovable little character is going through the same thing, your child has something to relate to. Try using the book as a talking point when partings get rough. Children love having a favorite friend or character to relate to, and this book really helps give you that resource.
Pick # 4 : Llama Llama Misses Mama
The Llama Llama series is quite popular, and has won the approval of kids and parents everywhere. This selection is no different! Llama Llama Misses Mama is written by Anna Dewdney, and is great for the daycare and preschool set alike. In fact, my child's preschool keeps around the Llama Llama series, especially this title.
Llama Llama Misses Mama is an emotional journey following a little llama who is entering school for the first time. He experiences a wide range of emotions, with the strongest at first being a very sincere sadness over his mother leaving. The book discusses the concept of "missing" your caregiver, and that these feelings are both normal, and OK. Children can identify this emotion, and putting their feeling into words, and a context they can understand is a huge part of the parting and goodbye battle.
Of course, Llama Llama Misses Mama doesn't end on this sad note. It goes on to show little llama acclimating to his new school and friends, and having a great time. Best of all, it shows that his mother comes to get him at the end of the day, and that this is something to expect each and every day.
The best part about this book, aside from the adorable illustrations, is that you and your child can read it together, identify, and discuss the emotions within it. This will help your child identify his emotions, address them, and cope with them. This not only making partings easier, but it makes for a more emotionally grounded, reasonable, child and adult. Additionally, the ending high of mommy picking up little llama helps to hammer home that not only is school great, but that mommy and/or daddy is always coming back to get you!
Pick # 5 : Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
OK, OK, this book doesn't exactly deal with partings, saying goodbye, mommy and daddy coming back, or really any of the difficult subject matter that can plague little minds when it comes to going to school. However, what it does do is create a very fun school environment, and this is extremely encouraging.
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes is written by James Dean, and is a very cute, fun, and exciting tale of a cat named Pete who goes to school in his "school shoes," and plays music and has fun every step of the way. While this book doesn't address any of the emotions that a kid may experience at the thought of saying goodbye or entering school, I find it extremely useful as a tool to illustrate the amazing possibilities of school.
Pete the Cat plays his guitar and sings while doing all the fun things that school kids get to do. This illustrates the fun, and also gives your child a chance to join in. Pete the Cat's songs and rhythms are evident from the text, and you and your child can sing and dance together with the book. This provides a lighter spin on school, and is a great read before leaving for school, or after getting home. Have your child fill in their day's events to the songs in the book. And, when you're done with the book itself, download some of the music that goes with it and sing along!
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes is geared toward Pre-K students, but my two year old loves it! We've talked about his day at daycare then created our own "Pete" song to it. He also loves getting his "school shoes" on, and it makes for a lighter leaving the house time now that we have it around.