It’ll be here before you know it, so how can you make your child’s first day of school extra special? Here are some super ideas…
I was homeschooled, so there really was no need for a backpack, school supplies in tow, etc. But being the industrious and excited 5 year old, I wanted all of that. So my mom got me a special backpack, supplies and lunchbox and we packed it all up the night before I started school. And then in the morning after breakfast, I took my backpack, kissed my mom goodbye and walked out the back door. About two minutes later, the front doorbell rang and there I was, saying hello to my “teacher” and siblings and ready for my first day! Silly, but fun and treasured.
I am a first grade teacher at a public school. As I was reading your post today, I thought about what would make my students happy. I find that for the little ones and big ones too, a little note of encouragement would do wonders. I am often faced with children who are missing their moms and siblings. Just reminding them that you will see them again and that they WILL go home would do wonders for them and the teachers!
I am the second oldest of six children, all of whom have been homeschooled since "the beginning." Ever since I can remember, my parents made the first day of school special by taking all of us out to breakfast. During breakfast, they would present each of us with a small, school-related gift such as a watch or pencil set. We also did our devotions at breakfast and prayed about and discussed the plan for the school year. When we couldn’t afford to go out to breakfast, my mom would get up extra early and make a special breakfast. This is a great memory that I will always treasure!
A very fun tradition that we always looked forward to as kids was…On the first day of school, mom would make a "schoolhouse cake" which was very similar to a gingerbread house you might make at Christmas time only looked like a one room schoolhouse with bell up top and all. Eventually it evolved to being just a regular 2 dimensional cake cut out in the shape of a one-room school building. She’d use icing and graham crackers and other things to make it creative. We always looked forward to coming home and having this for dessert after dinner on that first day of school!
Each year we take a "1st day of school photo" of the girls with their dad in the exact same place—on our front steps next to a potted flower arrangement. We save the photo on our bulletin board for the school year to watch and see how much they grow and change over the year. On the last day of school, I attach their photo with an award or end-of-the-year encouragement note. We love to look back on the photos and see how much they have changed—but dad hasn’t changed much at all!)
The very first day, of our very first year of homeschool I had a "great " idea. We would do a scavenger hunt! I made little rhyming signs with the clues on them to put at various locations. Around the house were hidden little treasures to fill their school boxes. Pencils, crayons, markers, stickers, play-doh. etc. Even a sweet or two. I had scheduled for this special morning event to take about 20 minutes; then we would start our day. Well, it took a little longer than 20 minutes, maybe 40. We finally sat down at the table to put all of these great things in the big prize, the school box!
I am not a mom yet, but here is what I remember my mom doing: The first day of school would start with what we affectionately called "the unveiling." Every year, my mom would purchase our school supplies for us (books for the year, pencils, pens, folders, fun treats, etc). She would then put it all on the dinning room table in nice little stacks and cover it with a huge bed sheet. We would wait until everyone was dressed and ready for the day. Then we gathered around the table to remove the "veil" and discover what cool stuff we had for that year. We got a huge kick out of it.
My suggestion is that parents remember to do fun things with kids even during the school year—it wouldn’t be the worst thing for a dad to take a vacation day and for the kids to miss school for one day—so that everyone could drive to the beach. You might be in jeans and a sweatshirt instead of bathing suits, but it will be fun all the same! That way the kid’s don’t associate Summer with Fun and School year with No-Fun. One missed day of school is not going to dramatically impact your child in a negative way, but one unexpected trip with the family will be a cherished memory for years to come. And I bet dad wouldn’t mind the time off work too!
Super fun thing to do—get everyone up early & go to breakfast at Dennys, or your local coffee shop. You’re there with all the people getting ready to go to work/start their day. So why not start off the new school year with a new tradition!