As we enter a new year many families are preparing to begin their journey into formal education with the first day of school marking a momentous occasion in a child’s life and a significant parenting milestone.

For some children, the thought of starting school is an exciting adventure, and they are more than ready for the next big step while for others it can seem a little daunting or totally overwhelming which can be challenging for the whole family. No matter where your child sits on this spectrum of emotions you can help support them to start school eager, happy and ready to learn in many ways.  

Reading books about characters undertaking this journey, facing the same challenges and fears, can be very helpful in gauging how your child is processing and managing this big change and will also help put your little one at ease.  

Some of my favourites include:

First Day by Andrew Daddo is a short and sweet introduction to all those first day emotions – the child’s and the parents! – with some reassuring sayings to repeat to you child to confirm that they will be ok and that you will be there to pick them up before they know it.

back to school ideas

My First Day at School by Meredith Costain is another picture book that follows the experiences and emotions of four different children from their teary farewells to their parents through to the joy of making new friends and the discovery that school can be an exciting place, despite the challenges.  The comparisons between the four children are subtle but will highlight to the young reader that everyone’s experience will be different, everyone’s feelings are valid and in the end big school is a positive and fun experience.

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child is a title in the very successful Charlie and Lola series and very clearly demonstrates how children can hide or deflect their anxiety or insecurities.  Parents will see straight through Lola’s assertion that her invisible friend is too nervous to go to school and children will empathise with the clever strategy to gain reassurance and support.  Support from an older sibling cannot be underestimated and it is lovely to see how this plays out in this humorous story.

back to school ideas

Other picture book titles to look out for include:

School Days by Sue DeGennaro 

My First Day at School by Rosie Smith and Bruce Whatley 

Shy Ones by Simona Ciraolo

I Love School by Tracey Corderoy 

On the First Day of School by P.Crumble and Dean Rankine

Joseph was Not Going to School by Ellen Madden 

Little Nic’s Big Day by Nic Naitanui 

Little Owl’s First Day by Deb Gliori

Maddie’s First Day by Penny Matthews 

Remember, even the most prepared children may find the first day of school overwhelming, or even later in the week or weeks into term when the novelty wears off.
Sometimes it just takes time and this goes for parents and caregivers as well!  

Be patient with your little one, be kind to yourself and enjoy the ride!!

Australian parenting website Raising Children has some great resources to support parents and children starting school.

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