Back to School Ideas From One Mom to Another
Oh my! It's that time of year again. Back to School! Wasn't it only yesterday that we were planning our vacations and attending graduation ceremonies? How the summer flies especially for children whose days of swimming, camp activities and ice cream are turning into back to school shopping, haircuts, and the excitement (or loathing) of a new school year. As parents there are many fun things you can do to ease your child back into the school routine. Whether it's last minute vacations to say farewell to summer or small but significant actions on your part to make sure they know you care about them even when you're apart, plan now for the first few weeks of the new school year.
My kids are almost grown now but we have great memories of those firsts in school.To help your creative mind start to twirl, here are some of our favorite and fun, but easy back to school traditions. Leave a comment of your favorites!
Back To School Shopping
My two daughters and I would make a day of it. Shopping for school clothes used to be one of my favorite days as a kid and as a Mom taking my own two daughters it was once again a favorite activity. We would start the day off with a special breakfast either at home or on the road. Over our pancakes we would discuss the day and where we would go and what we needed to purchase. I would make a list (as I always do) of clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc. Picking out a new backpack and lunchbox was always a favorite chore. Over the years, I remember themes that included Barbie, the Backstreet Boys, Unicorns, and Care Bears to name a few. I would always remember my own favorite Partridge Family lunchbox. "Cherish is the word I use to describe....." Ok, you have to be a Partridge Family fan to understand that.
We would also split the day up by going to a coffee house for a break or having ice cream. When we got home that night we would unwrap all the treasures and then watch a movie.
End of Summer Traditions
I have heard of many different family traditions for the end of summer. One family goes on one last mini vacation, another has an all night movie-a-thon. Our end of summer tradition was to have a family meeting and discuss the "Fall Plan". We would make charts and lists of schedules and chores. I know Spring is seen as a new beginning but I also like to think of Fall or the start of a new school year as a new beginning. It can be a time to be more organized or set other family goals. Start an end of summer tradition. It can be as simple as toasting the summer with koolaide by late night starlight or a short weekend road trip. Have an all night movie-a-thon or look through pictures from all of your summer activities. You can repeat this activity every year and it becomes a family tradition. This will help to have closure and transition from summer vacation to fall school days.
First Day of School
Plan everything the night before such as clothes, lunches, etc so everything will go smoothly on that first morning. At least a week before that much anticipated first day, my daughters would hold "modeling sessions" to determine which outfit would be the first day outfit. One year I even came up with a plan to keep morning time rituals easy by placing a ziplock bag on the hanger of each outfit for the week with hair accessories, belts etc. This woked great for the first month or so until we were back in the mode of waiting until the last minute for such things.
I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mom when my daughters were in elementary school, but even if you are a working parent try to take at lease half the day off so you can spend some time with your child before school as well as at school. This day can be a traumatic time for young children (and moms), start the day with a special breakfast and the promise of a favorite supper or after-school snack. One of my daughters favorite after-school treats was for me to have a tea part waiting for them with hot tea and scones. As little girls (and big girls) they loved acting prissy with my china tea cups and sugar cube tongs.
Every year we would take first day pictures for their scrapbooks. We continued this tradition all the way to the day I dropped them off at college.
Back to School Traditions
Does Your Family Have Back to School Traditions?
Special Lunches Packed with Love
On the first day and throughout the year I would sometimes put little notes in the girls' lunch boxes. A note from a parent with encouraging words can be just what a child needs to pep them up for the rest of the day. Young children will love this and older children will secretly love it as well.
Another favorite thing was to buy pretty napkins or holiday themed napkins to include in their lunchboxes. It is a simple thing but think how a fun napkin can make a boring lunch a little more special.
After-school is the best time to listen to your child. Ask questions to get them started talking. Give them encouragement but mostly listen. This tells your child that you are genuinely interested in their activities even when you are apart. This will set the stage as they get older so they will know they can come to you with concerns or challenges.
I enjoyed a close relationship with both of my daughters and I truely believe that those afterschool talks played a part in that. Things that happened would be fresh on their minds and we were able to talk through the things that made them happy or sad.