The first day of school can conjure up images of nervous and excited children, equally anxious parents, frantic new schedules, school busses, backpacks, story times, “I survived” notes home, and the flood of First Day of School pictures on Facebook - a rite of passage for students and parents!
For virtual school students and families, there is just as much change, excitement, nervousness, and anticipation that mark each new year and new milestone as our brick and mortar counterparts. Yet, there often seems to be less awareness and supports available to help virtual learners capture, express, share and, yes, validate those same shared moments and feelings.
This became all too real to me last month when I was trying to find a suitable First Day of School book to provide our K-2 students as a read aloud opportunity at Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA), where I teach all subjects, including early literacy. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a plethora of storybooks geared towards everything from making kids laugh on their first day of school to helping them understand what their day or even school year will be like. There are even stories like The Kissing Hand, which is about a raccoon who is hesitant to leave his mother for school. This book in particular is a fan favorite in early grades with plenty of opportunities for extension projects that also allow students to bring a little something special home to mom after their first day to set her fears at bay as well.