I’ve always loved the excitement that the first days back to school bring. There’s the feeling of fresh, new beginnings and the kick off to fall, which brings us football, holidays and cooler weather (unless you live in the South like us). Here are some of my favorite traditions and tips heading into the big day:
Make it a celebration!
Whether it be serving up a special breakfast by picking up festive donuts from our local donut shop or cooking up star shaped (thanks to my trusty cookie cutter) pancakes or toast, I keep it simple but try to make those first days back at school an exciting event. This year I picked up some fun, ABC plates and cups and cute school themed cupcakes from Target to surprise the kids with a special treat when I pick them up. Balloons, confetti and festive lunches are also easy but fun ways to set a celebratory tone.
Our kiddos start mid-week and I’m already planning on a Friday evening pizza night to celebrate a finish to the milestone week, which is as good of an excuse as any to outsource cooking!
Take your first day of school pictures before the first day of school
The first day of a new school year is a milestone almost every parent wants to document but mornings are usually hectic, whether it be the first, 100th or last day of school. Not to mention, our faces are tired and our little ones might not be in the mood to participate in Mom’s parade of picture posing first thing in the morning. For the last several years, we’ve put on those first day outfits and pulled out those cute back to school signs in advance of the big day. Doing this one thing has made that first morning so much more of a breeze, it might just be my top tip. Because I can’t escape my procrastination habits completely, for us this usually takes place the last day of summer break right before school starts.
Along these same lines, I was reading in Vanessa Lachey’s book, Life From Scratch, that her family does a school dress rehearsal which includes a run through the morning before school starts where they wake up early, get dressed and go through the motions of walking to the bus stop or driving to the daily drop off spot. Afterward, they wave to the school and head to breakfast as a family. I think this is a clever way to introduce the morning routine and ease first day nerves and also help parents get acquainted with the school route as well.
I love the tradition of leaving a note of encouragement in my child’s lunch box or snack bag. Who doesn’t enjoy reading kind words from a loved one in the midst of going through their day? Some of my favorites are linked here which have pre-written phrases on them with a space on the back to jot a few of your own words: https://www.amazon.com/Inspirational-Lunch-Notes-Karen-Stubbs/dp/B0794BJNQV
I know teachers encourage and appreciate this as much as parents. Anytime I’ve sent an unlabeled jacket to school, it ends up in the lost and found graveyard alongside a pile of other rogue items consisting of everything under the sun.
My favorite labels of all time are these from Name Bubbles: https://www.namebubbles.com/collections/press-and-stick-clothing-labels. They are laundry and dish washer safe, stay intact and yet are somehow easily removable when you need them to be without leaving behind any sticky residue. It’s like magic! They work well on clothing and hard surfaces and offer the cutest personalized designs from ballerinas to baseball. We use these on water bottles, sweatshirts and jackets, show and tell items, and even zip lock bags containing lunch or field trip money.
I also love a good monogram and I’ll typically let my kids choose their backpacks and lunchboxes and if the store offers personalized monogramming as an option, all the better!
Read about it
Books are such a beautiful way to prepare little minds for what’s to come. Here are a few favorites:
The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
The Smart Cookie by Jory John
Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
On the topic of books, I purchased the book, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, when my oldest started kindergarten. Each year, I’ve asked his teacher if she would sign and leave a message inside the book and have repeated this tradition with my younger children. When these school years are complete, it will be such a gift to have this keepsake and send them off to college and into the world with these notes of encouragement from each of their childhood teachers.