Is there anything like the sights, sounds, and smells of back-to-school season? The first crack of a brand new notebook, laying out that inaugural outfit, smelling the slightest tinge of fall in the maple leaves—all signs that a new season of regularly scheduled programming is upon us (in the most wonderful way). The start of each school year marks important milestones for kids, and parents around the country have come up with wonderful ways to celebrate, document and memorialize these events. Which ones of these do you do?
- Take First Day of School pictures. Often a more accurate (honest?) portrayal of our lovable students than their yearly portrait photos, annual pictures in front of the bus, the tree in the front yard, or holding a sign with the new grade show each year’s growth in a consistent way. And maybe you don’t stop there. Some families take a group shot of all the kids at the bus stop, and some parents make sure to grab a picture of the kids coming home as well. Whatever your tradition, this yearly event is a unique opportunity to hone in on the moment—so make sure to take the shot.
- Make a meal of it. Whether it’s the “Last Supper” of summer or the “First Breakfast” of the school year, a special, traditional meal commemorating the event is a great and easy tradition. After all, you have to eat anyway, right? Keep it simple with pizza or eating dessert first or serving academic-themed food (alphabet soup, shape pancakes, “use your noodle” pasta dishes).
- Or a snack. If the back-to-school whirlwind is too much to plan ahead of time, consider a traditional snack when they get home that first day. Chocolate chip cookies are always a favorite, and the smell as they bake will greet your kids as they come through the door, ready to tell you all about their day.
- End and begin with a bang. The end of summer and the start of school are two great reasons to host a neighborhood block party. Have everyone chip in with food and activities, and you could also encourage the parents to bring in a school picture from their childhood—and encourage the kids to figure out which picture belongs to which adult. Have the party a week or two before the start of school so that it sets the tone for the rest of summer without adding to the stress of the start of the academic calendar.
- Prepare. It was the night before school, and all through the house… Just like holiday preparations can quickly go awry, having a solid plan for the night before the first day of school can help your kids transition to schedules in a healthy, confident way. Organize backpacks, make lunches, take showers and head to bed early (even you, Mom and Dad) so that you start the year calm and ready.
- Soak it up. Once your kids are safely on the bus or inside the school doors, take a moment to appreciate where they—and you—are. Whether this includes a private happy dance or a moment spent with hot coffee and photo books, take it.
Each year comes with amazing moments and growth that should be celebrated and acknowledged, both in kids’ lives and in the lives of their parents. Because, while there are only so many first days of school, we never stop growing. And the more time we take to acknowledge that growth, the more available we are to keep doing it.
Have fun. Keep growing!