Autumn's Tough Topic: Emotional Resiliency

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Autumn's Tough Topic: Emotional Resiliency

At the start of a new school season, children’s emotions can run the gamut. Although many children feel excited and confident about beginning school with new clothes or new supplies, some may display a bit of anxiety when it’s time to say goodbye to a parent at drop off. Early in the school year, returning students may feel reticent and unsure about interacting with different teachers and classmates, or their assignments may seem intimidating. Some parents also feel a twinge of separation anxiety about their young child's first school experience. Or, if parents have slightly older children attending a new school, they may wonder, will the curriculum be overwhelming, or perhaps not challenging enough? Will my child easily make friends? Will my child encounter any peer pressure or bullying?

Concerned parents can share helpful books/resources with each other, and find the optimal balance in their level of school involvement by maintaining communication with the “learning team” (Teachers, Principals, Counselors, Specialists) to best support their child’s development throughout the school year. Below are some great books that explore emotions and/or pivotal school experiences. These books can stimulate conversations between parents and children about how to manage the many feelings brought on by the transition into new learning environments, as a means for bolstering emotional resiliency skills that will serve the children well throughout their lives.

K-1st grades: School's First Day of School -- by Adam Rex: 
The always-clever Adam Rex has created a unique and endearing story of a 1st school-day experience from the school building’s perspective! The new Frederick Douglass Elementary School building feels trepidation leading up to its first day of school despite the care and reassurance of the friendly janitor who keeps him tidy. When the first day arrives, the school is inundated with throngs of active, boisterous, busy children and new concepts like sharing, using good manners, or taking turns. Will school be able to manage this new experience productively? Robinson's richly colored collage illustrations depict a very diverse and bustling school environment, complementing the humor, charm, and empathy of Rex's delightful story . 


For Pre-K - 2nd: Time for (Earth) School, Dewey Dew -- by Leslie Staub: 
Little alien Dewey Dew is blue---literally and figuratively! Dewey Dew is nervous and reluctant to leave his home planet Eight Hundred Seventy-Two Point Nine to attend school for the first time on planet Earth in Ms. Brightsun’s class. He amusingly struggles to acclimate to new weird-sounding Earth words, new ill-fitting Earth clothes and a rainbow of children's faces that do not in any way resemble his own. What will it take for Dewey Dew to become comfortable with these new surroundings?

For K - 2nd graders: I'm New Here -- by Anne Sibley O'Brien:
In this first person narrative with simple text, Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea and Fatimah from Somalia tell of their stressful transition to their home and school in the United States. It is challenging and lonely to be new to a classroom of strangers from another culture who speak a different language.
 The children compare the ease and comfort of all they knew back in their homeland to all that is different and difficult in their new environment. Gradually each child finds a way to adapt and flourish as they learn and experience more inclusion from their peers. Maria joins in with the soccer players, Jin teaches a classmate some Korean words, Fatimah displays her artwork to the class, and all three are able to joyfully and confidently claim a place for themselves in their adopted homeland!

For 2nd -4th graders: Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby -- by Derek Barnes
Some children greet the new school season with confidence and determination like miss Ruby. Ruby's 1st person account resolves that she will not begin the school year living in the shadows of her popular older brothers. She plans to do something memorable so she can make a name for herself. Now, can the Hope Road Academy handle her enthusiastic efforts to "Rubify" it? Children with siblings may identify with Ruby's comical and well-meaning attempts to distinguish herself from the crowd in this transitional chapter book.