Whether you homeschool your children or they attend a public or private school, it is that time of year again. Are you looking for special ways to celebrate going back to school? Look no further! This is especially fun when your children are young and still get excited about shopping for new school supplies and uniforms.
Shopping for Back to School
I have fond memories of going shopping for new school clothes every year with my mom. She would take my sister and I to the mall and we would spend all day browsing the stores and then stopping for pizza at our favorite place. She always made it a very special event. When dad came home that evening, my sister and I would put on fashion show for him.
As homeschoolers, we usually don’t go back to school shopping for new clothes. I think that is mainly because my boys don’t really care about clothes. Anyway, now I do try to at least surprise them with a new graphic tee shirt. Even if your child wears uniforms, you can still make it fun. Think of new ideas to accessorize the outfit. Or even new hairstyles. We often get new Christmas jammies each year but I think a new pair of jammies to wear the night before the first big day would be fun too.
I am thinking that if I end up help teaching in this year’s co-op, I am going to make myself a dress like Ms. Frizzle!!(image from Craftster)
And of course, there’s the school supplies! (This is my favorite part!) I always let my kids pick out their journal notebooks themselves and a 3 ring binder. I will admit though, when I was teaching all of them, they were color coded. And they always complained about that. But in my defense, I did allow them to decorate with stickers. If you are responsible for purchasing supplies for the entire class, don’t let your children hear you complain about it. It starts the new year off on a negative vibe.
Take a Picture
I know that regular schools have “picture day” but that’s not the picture I have in mind. Show off your kids’ excitement of their first day. They will be proudly sporting their new outfit and bookbag and may be the only day you don’t have to remind them to wake up multiple times!
I really love the idea of the children that hold the little blackboard saying what grade they are entering and what they want to be when they grow up. Even if you don’t have a blackboard, you can always add text over the picture in a photo editing software program or app. (Someone I know recently shared a photo of her daughter starting K-4 and it stated that the little girl wanted to be Piglet when she grows up. How adorable.)
Start the Day off with Breakfast
I almost always make blueberry pancakes and eggs when my kids need a brain kickstart. I’ve read somewhere once upon a time that blueberries and eggs were brain foods so this has become our tradition. Even when I went back to college a few years ago, this is my breakfast on test days! (I always did well so maybe there’s some truth to it.) You never know how long it will be before they get lunch and a rumbling tummy in a quiet classroom is not the first impression you want your child to make.
Pack a Special Lunch
If you pack your child’s lunch, make the first day extra special. Pack their favorite foods. Cut a sandwich in shapes with a knife or cookie cutter. Don’t forget a special treat! Include a little note of how much you can’t wait to hear about their first day. Include a little something extra that they can share with a new, or old, friend.
Allow Them Downtime
I know little children often come home from school tired. Allow them some downtime to rest before doing homework or chores. Maybe allow them to watch a cartoon while laying down on the couch or some quiet time to just listen to music or read. If your child is the one that comes home all wound up, go to the park or the pool and let them burn off some of that excess energy they’ve had to keep at bay all day.
Communication is Key
Always, after the first day and even every day afterwards, talk to your child about school. (In homeschool, we call this narration.) Talk about what they learned. What was their favorite thing that day? Try not to ask “yes” or “no” questions but open ended questions that will really get them talking. This is more challenging the older they get! I even try to talk to my older kids about their day at work. Boys seem to be harder, at least in my case. But I have discovered that if they really enjoyed the day, they will talk non-stop so it’s a clue on the days they won’t talk that something is wrong.
Routines are very important and even more so for younger children. Establish a nightly routine to keep your year running smoothly. Check over homework. Bath. Read. Tuck in. Whatever works for your family to make this a special time to unwind and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
As parents, we also can celebrate. But try not to let your children hear you get too excited about them going back to school. I often hear parents or see posts about how they can’t wait for kids to go back. As a homeschool mom, I don’t really get this. Even the few seasons when my kids did go to school, I still missed them. I often wonder how it makes children feel when they hear their parents can’t wait for them to go back to school? Be careful of your words and attitude. I try to explain that my school years were a favorite part of my childhood and I want it to be a special experience for them too.
Do you have a way to celebrate going back to school or a yearly tradition? I’d love to collect more ideas so please share!