The First Day of School is typically met with a combination of excitement and butterflies in the belly, but this school year will begin as no other has…ever. Children will be learning from home, seeing teachers and classmates via a computer, and parents will be contributing daily in some aspect.
So yes, our children are going back, and yes, it will be different for all of us. They will have a First Day of School filled with some uncertainty and plenty of anxiety, so as parents, let’s make it memorable and unforgettable.
Here are some suggestions to make this most iconic of school days just a tad more special:
Keep Traditions Alive, and Thrive!
Take the picture. You know you want to, so just do it. Whether you traditionally take the picture in the same spot every year or hold a commemorative sign designating the school year, make the morning as normal as possible, and that includes the First Day of School picture. If they want to stay in their pajamas because they are learning from home? So be it. If they have purchased a new pair of kicks for the start of the school year, make sure to feature them in the photo. Bedhead, baseball cap, frown? Go with it. It’s a memory in the making. Keep the tradition alive.
Be Prepared. Since we have been down the path of First Days before, organized parenting has prepared us to prepare the backpack the night before. Notebooks have been purchased and pencils have been sharpened, so bundle up those new school supplies and load up the backpack as if kids are returning to school and not learning from home. Save a little something special for the bottom of the backpack to surprise your children; it can be their favorite treat or a small journal for drawing or doodling…
Keep it normal. Things are certainly different with a houseful of students (aka, your kids!) this fall, but try to keep things as normal as possible. Your students still need to be responsible for their at-home work space; that means arrive to class on time, have the correct materials on hand, and tidy up their ‘desks’ at the end of the school day. Desk caddies are an ideal system for keeping everyone organized!
Make the BEST First Day with New Traditions
Want to start the morning with a little extra fanfare? Decorate your kids’ rooms so they know this First Day of School is one for the ages. Choose school colors or the school mascot to incorporate a transition from bedroom to School Spirit Day! Want to surprise them instead? Hang streamers, balloons and special signs or posters outside of their rooms while they are sleeping; welcome them back to school!
Rise and shine with a spectacular breakfast made for champions! Except this year make it less stressful for mom by going out for breakfast. Pure genius! Let the kids know the plan the night before so everyone is on board. Give them ownership; let them pick the destination and their meal once they get there. When you return home, they are ready to learn in their ‘new school.’ (If getting everyone out the door in the morning doesn’t work for your family, save the special First Day of School meal for lunch or even a family dinner at everyone’s favorite restaurant.)
Whether you have the opportunity to go out for breakfast or opt to dine in, have your kids walk around the block with their backpacks, already packed from the night before, to simulate the walk to the bus or school, even if they are learning virtually at home. It will burn off those pancakes, subdue the First Day jitters, and get the creative juices flowing!
Lunch time will roll around quickly, so create good habits starting with the First Day of School by packing or prepping lunches the night before. Make this particular day extra-special by placing a personal note from Mom taped to their favorite snack. Inspiration is easy; simply say, “Welcome, Back!” or “First Day of School 2020!” Stickers are always a fun option to add!
Prepping for the BIG Day
Let’s be honest. Everyone is stressed about starting the new school year the way it ended: virtually. But we are professionals now; we’ve got this. This time around we have the opportunity be more creative. What will your child miss the most by not being in the school environment? Recreate that element at home. Essentially, turn your home into a fun, accessible environment with colorful signs and charts to provide encouragement and a learning atmosphere for your kids.
If it is friends or meeting their teacher in person your kids are pining for, try to set up a ‘playdate’ or a meet-and-greet after the First Day of School so they feel more connected. This important day will set the tone for the school year to follow, so make it as normal as possible and be patient (with yourself, too!) yet make it special because 2020 has been challenging in so many ways. The First Day of School doesn’t need to be another challenge, just a memorable day in the life of a kid.
Don’t put undo pressure on yourself. Stay relaxed, enjoy the First Day of School moment, and most importantly, don’t forget the after school snack!
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