At my house, a new favorite book is Mama Mine, Mama Mine by Rita Gray. We are in the midst of a transition into a preschool/daycare setting with my two-year-old, and while outwardly he appears to be doing very well, he wants to read this book over and over again as reassurance that Mama and Dada always come back. In the book, a little boy waves goodbye to his Mama, who is going to work around the farm while he stays on the porch with his grandma. The baby animals around the barnyard all ask their mamas, “when will you come back Mama?” and the mother animals all respond in gentle rhyming verses. The illustrations are beautiful and my son loves to point Mama out in each picture as she works around the farm. He identifies with the little boy too and calls him by his own name.
I read this book a couple of times a day and always think of children who are starting school or moving to a new school. Transitions are exciting, but also daunting for many young children. The shift from an infant/toddler program to a preschool is a big step and parents need to understand that their children may need a little extra reassurance for a few weeks as the little ones find their niche in a new setting. There is always a lot to learn: new routines, new teachers, names of new friends, etc. Children need time to adjust and explore their new environment without pressure to perform in a certain way initially. At the school where I teach, we spend a lot of time setting up the environment for success, rather than failure. We aid in the learning of new routines and we expect the children to need more from us early in the year than later on. We want to foster independence, but also their confidence and feeling of security.
Another big transition is the move from preschool to elementary school. If you have a new first grader, remember that he or she may need some time after school to debrief or just play for awhile before tackling homework or other activities. Your child has spent a long day in a large building with lots of big kids. Elementary school children are also adjusting to routines and new people in their lives.
I hope school is off to a great start for all of the little people in your lives! I love going to pick up my son at school. When he sees me, a huge smile stretches across his face and he runs into my arms. It is one of the best feelings! Then we head home, usually singing “The Wheels on the Bus” all the way!
Here are a couple of other books I recommend for transitioning and separating from parents:
I’ll Always Come Back!. By Steve Metzger (available through September Scholastic Book Clubs or Amazon.com)
The Kissing Hand. By Audrey Penn
I Love You All Day Long. By Francesca Rusackas
Bye-Bye Time. By Elizabeth Verdick. (specifically for toddlers)