3 Ways 'The Kissing Hand' Can Calm Your Child’s Worries About Kindergarten

These sweet activities inspired by the iconic book will get your little one excited for the first day of school, and ease anxiety about what’s to come.
By Ashley Austrew
Aug 06, 2019

Ages

3-5

3 Ways 'The Kissing Hand' Can Calm Your Child’s Worries About Kindergarten

Aug 06, 2019

When you have a kid starting kindergarten, it’s normal to feel anxious. As the mom of a 5-year-old who is starting school in the fall, I worry about whether or not he’s truly “ready,” how to set up a new daily routine, and most of all, how my son is going to fare emotionally when he’s away in his classroom for most of the day.

Kids are feeling this anxiety, too. For a lot of children, going off to kindergarten can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to help them cope with that anxiety is to spend some time together talking about how they’re feeling and preparing them for what lies ahead. In my house, we like to do that through reading together. (These books help calm the kindergarten jitters!

One of the best books for incoming kindergarteners is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. The book tells the story of Chester Raccoon, a little rascal who does not want to go to his new school in the forest. To ease his fears, Chester’s mom shares a special secret called The Kissing Hand. His mother kisses his hand and tells him that whenever he feels lonely, he can press that hand to his cheek as a kiss from her and remember that his mommy loves him.

The story itself offers a sweet idea for helping kids feel secure and reassured in new situations, but there are also other ways you can use the book to help get your little one ready for the new school year. Read on for my favorite activities for soothing little one's fears before the first day, then check out this guide to kindergarten for everything you need to know about your child's first year of elementary school!

1. Chester Scavenger Hunt

Raccoons are the ultimate scavengers, so turn your back-to-school prep into a fun scavenger hunt. Attach paper hearts to the supplies that need to go into your child’s backpack, and let them race around your home finding each item. Once they find them all, place a final paper heart in their hand, so they know they’ll also be taking your love with them. 

Turning school prep into a game also serves the purpose of helping them replace a little bit of their anxiety with joy and excitement, so they start thinking of school as something fun to look forward to, rather than scary or challenging.

2. “Hand-y” Love Magnets

Trace your child’s hand on construction paper, and then cut it out and have them decorate it with their name and a photo of themselves. Attach a small magnet to the back and place it on the refrigerator. The “Hand-y” Love Magnet is a way for your child to leave some of their love with you, too, while they’re away at school. Even though you may not need quite as much reassurance, your child will love that they get to do something special for you, just like Chester’s mom does for him.

3. Raccoon Reassurances

This is an activity that gives kids an outlet for addressing some of their fears about school and for mentally preparing themselves for day one. After reading The Kissing Hand, sit down together and ask your child to imagine what the first day of school might be like for Chester. What will he encounter? What fun will he have? What will be hard about it?

Then, ask them to imagine they are one of the older raccoons at Chester’s school and help them write a letter to Chester about what he might expect to see, hear, and do on his first day in his new classroom. This will give you a chance to talk them through any worries they might have and make a plan for how to handle new things, like lunch time, bathroom breaks, and school work. Talking through the day will help kids feel like, no matter what, they know exactly what to expect.

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