Creating Family Memories For the Start of the New School Year
Fun School Rituals and Family Traditions
Another school year is upon us!
Rituals or traditions established by your family can make the transition from summer to school year easier on your kiddos and give them something to look forward to as summer winds down. Traditions also serve as a memory builder for your students for years to come, giving them something to reminisce about long after their last day of school. Though it may be easy just to treat the first day of school like any other day, taking even a little time and giving it, and your kids some special attention will help make the day much smoother, and more fun too!
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School Supply Shop
No doubt, this is an activity every student looks forward to, whether they are in first grade or freshman year. Updating and replenishing tired, and worn-out supplies from the year before and starting afresh. It is part of the first day of school “clean slate” where everything is new and exciting. Crisp notebooks, new pencils, a snazzy pencil pouch - ah the delights of the season! It almost ensures a successful and studious school year!
Night Before Organizing
Getting everything ready the night before is essential to a smooth day when new habits and routines are most crucial. Set out the back-to-school outfit, pre-pack the lunch or prep as much as possible, and have backpacks ready to go. Teaching your child to prep the night before each school day, will establish healthy organizational skills and habits for their lifetime.
Night Before School Treat
Scare away the night-before jitters with a fun activity. Have a family game night and ice cream Sunday party. Have a smores night around the firepit. Any activity that encourages talking about what they are looking forward to the next day, or maybe something that they are nervous about. Encouraging your kids to confide in you will go a long way when they have bigger issues at hand. It might seem like a minor issue to the adult you, but for a kiddo, seemingly simple problems can be quite large. Truly listen to what they have to say, don’t discount their feelings. Give them confidence and let them know you are always there for them.
Special Back-to-School Breakfast
Start the morning with a bang, with an extra special breakfast of your kid's favorite things. Decorate the table with special plates or fun placemats and serve it up with a special flair. Breakfast is really an important start to their day, and can eliminate some of those first-day butterflies. Encourage all family members to participate in this special event.
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Special School Day Lunch
If you pack your kid's lunch, preparing a delicious and nutritious meal not only gives them something to look forward to but also fuels them for the rest of the day. If possible do not overload them with carbs or sweets which will lead to them feeling tired and overly full. You can also inspire budding chefs by asking them before grocery shopping what types of things they would enjoy eating, as well as letting them prepare or help prepare their lunches.
Passage of Time Traditions
Some of these rituals are long-established and well-used by parents everywhere, but it doesn’t make them any less special. Marking the passage of time with your children is an important feat and gives them (and you) special memories and sometimes a good laugh.
- A picture of your student in the same spot every year.
- A print of their handprint each year, with on paper, or on a special t-shirt.
- Mark their height on a growth chart or the old school way ( a door frame) - gives you a special ritual to mark how tall they are getting each year.
- First day of school interview - every year - though this might be better done the night before school for time purposes, asking the same questions to them each year, and then tucking the interview away, enables you to give them a precious and meaningful gift when their school days are over.
- Pocket change. Do you think that you waste a dollar a day on meaningless things? Do you know that if you take that one dollar, put it in an envelope each school day, and tuck it away, by the time your student graduates, you can hand them a really large pile of envelopes worth approximately $2,160? A school year is approximately 180 days times 12 years (1st grade to High School graduation) is 2,160. That goes a long way in college book shopping without much effort. Tuck in an encouraging note, or a special memory to one of the envelopes each week for an even sweeter surprise.
After-School Decompress and Debriefing
Even though you may not be there immediately when your kiddos come home each day, it is important to catch up with them at some point and let them tell you about their day. “ How was school?” - which will get you a one-word answer like “good or fine” in return. Asking more leading questions like “Tell me about your day” or What was the best/worst thing about your day” gives them an opportunity to give you more details about how it went for them and invites true conversation. Also asking if they have any special assignments coming up, or anything that could be worrisome or need help with. As this becomes a habit for them, you will find that they will freely come to you as it establishes an open line of communication and a level of trust where they can feel comfortable and confident to share both the good and the bad. Another perk to taking time to listen each day after school, is that with this open line of communication, you won’t find out they need 48 cupcakes for the school bake sale, the morning of the bake sale.
Morning Motivational Notes
Be sure to add a pack or two of colorful sticky notes and markers to your back-to-school supply buying list, not for your kiddos - but for you. Leaving them aptly placed sticky notes each morning with encouraging words (or fun pictures and symbols for non-readers) will go a long way in creating a cheerful morning, and again is something they look forward to waking up to. Their room, their bathroom, at the breakfast table, where they get their coat, all are great places for them to find a note.
In the same vein, finding a longer, encouraging note tucked into their backpack - makes them feel special. Sharing a memory, an encouraging word, or a simple “I love you, or I am proud of you” gives your student confidence, and a little extra pep in their step throughout the day. You can even purchase notecards or stationary specifically for this purpose, giving it even more of a heightened importance.
From personal experience, we know that the beginning of each school year is a bittersweet experience. While you are happy the kids are in school, growing, and learning - and let’s face it - not monopolizing every minute of each waking hour - there are other feelings too. The beginning (and ending) of each school year decidedly marks the passage of time, in a very concrete and obvious way. As time marches on, your kiddos are less dependent on you as they mature, and though this is precisely what you hope for with them - there could also be a sense of sadness that comes along with that. The school year - beginning or end - concretely marks the passage of time in a very real way, and as long as those days may seem now, in current time, there will be a day someday soon, to look back and say (in a very clique way) “Where did that time go?”. Personally, your blog writer looks back at many things that they wish they did differently to mark those ordinary, yet extraordinary moments. You truly, do not get them back. So however you spend the last days leading up to the next chapter in your kiddo's lives - savor it. These days will never come again. Make as many memories as possible, and give hugs lavishly.
Do you and your family have any traditions that are special to you? We would love to hear about them.
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