Well, it is that time of year again when if you bring up the ‘A’ word to any teacher then you will be shunned. August means back to school time and while most teachers avoid that thought like the plague, the moms are over here counting down the days. Personally, I long for the routine that comes with the back to school time and sad at the same time that another summer has passed by. The last few days of summer are usually crammed full of our last minute summer bucket list items. You know we only get 18 summers with our kids…cue the crying!
So you have purchased the backpacks, the lunch boxes, and all the back to school supplies! You have even taken the kids to pick out new clothes and shoes. What else can you do to mark the big day that the kids will remember and get excited about? Check out these ideas to repeat year after year.
1. Take Cool Pictures
This one goes without saying. I mean really? Facebook and Instagram become inundated with these photos of our kids on the front stoop. Usually the kids are holding some sort of sign or chalkboard displaying the grade they are starting. My favorite place to purchase a pre-made or personalized sign is Etsy. Once I get the digital copy in email, I send it to the copy and print store to print in 8×10. To keep the sign from folding up in their hands, I mount the print to foam board. Super easy! Letter boards are also becoming popular too.
2. Hearts on Hands
This one will pull at your heart strings. Before the kids leave for school, write a heart on their hand with a permanent marker. You can also write a heart on your hand too. So while they are at school and missing home, they can look at the heart and remember you. I think this is similar to the concept of The Kissing Hands book by Audrey Penn which I would also recommend with the stickers to put on your hands.
3. Favorite Breakfast
This one requires a little bit of prep work the night before but totally worth it. On the first morning of school, make them a special breakfast with all their favorite foods. This is where Pinterest comes in handy. Last year we made owl pancakes, fruity pebbles banana sushi, and monkey bread among other things. I also like to have a little gift for them displayed on the table. This gift is usually items that they will use at school during the year to add a little fun, like scented colored pencils, fun erasers, family picture magnets for their lockers, or new watches. Then, you can decorate the table in a fun school theme if you like. Last year and this year, Target had tons of cute decorating items in their dollar bins at the front of the store. But get them early before they sell out and move onto Halloween. Crazy how these stores change through the holidays.
4. New Book
One little idea is to give them a new book that corresponds with the grade that they are entering into. Last year I found the books ‘Second Grade Here I Come’ by D. J. Steinberg and ‘The Night Before Kindergarten’ by Natasha Wing for each boy. We read these books the night before and talked about the first day expectations and apprehensions.
5. Pack a Special Lunch
I admit, I start out the year very creative with their lunches and that quickly fizzles out. From train shaped sandwiches to homemade muffins, their lunches are a work of art. Then by the second or third week, it is uncrustables and store bought snacks. So for the first day you could make a bus shaped sandwich with a side of pencil themed cheese, an apple, and letter jello jigglers. The possibilities are endless and some extra ideas could also include fun tags, treat labels, or even coupons.
6. Hide a Note
Slip a note into their lunchbox or backpack for the first day of school. There are so many cool ideas you could do from scratch offs notes to fun little jokes. Check out this website for some cool note options like Lunchbox Notes by Inklings Paperie. These notes will make your kiddo feel so loved and help calm the first day jitters.
7. The Night Before School
Celebrate going back to school by making their favorite dinner or going to their favorite restaurant. You could even throw up a few decorations around the house to set the mood. Some activities to include are discussing their goals for the school year and what makes them nervous or to just having a dance party. You could even give them jitter glitter packets to put under their pillows to help them sleep at night.
8. Interview Your Kids
I know I have said it before but I will say it again here. You can never have enough video of your children or even written questionnaires. These days cell phones make picture taking so easy but what about videos? If you do have any videos, are they forever stored on your phone? Make an intentional effort to interview your kids on the first day of school and record them each year. You will likely forget some of the things that they say over the years but the video will bring it all rushing back.
9. Favorite After School Treat
The kids have had a long day at school but they are looking forward to what is waiting for them at home! You could surprise them with an extra special treat from their favorite place. They will appreciate it because the first day can be rough. This would be the perfect time to ask them about their first day, from what their teacher is like to what they ate for lunch and even new friends they made.
10. Gradating Class T-Shirt
This one seems so cool to me and I wish I had thought of it sooner. So you buy a t-shirt with the graduation year of your kiddo in a large size so that they can grow into it. You then put them in this shirt every year on the first day of school and take a picture to watch them grow. This would be a great addition to the high school graduation open house.
11. First Day Teacher Gift
Because teachers need a little love too, why not show your appreciation and give them a cute little gift to start their year off right. We know that teachers spend a lot of their own money on school supplies so let’s help them out. Last year we made a bucket full of sunshine for the classrooms. I filled it with all yellow school related items. The year before that we made back to school teacher survival kits. Pinterest once again has a ton of ideas too.
12. Mom Brunch
This one is for you Moms! (or stay at home dads) After school drop-off and all the kids are settled into their new classrooms. Then head on over to someone’s house or restaurant for breakfast. Whether you are crying tears of sadness that your little one is off to kindergarten for the first time or tears of joy that you finally have a kid free moment, you will enjoy some together time to chat, eat, and maybe consume a mimosa or two.
So do a little or do a lot, it is up to you how many of these traditions to start with your kids. I am sure there are way more ideas than what I have listed here. So share in the comments your favorite back to school traditions.