No matter where you send your kids to school–public school, private school, or the living room–kids love the memories attached with the first day of school. Even if you already started school this week or earlier and didn't do much to celebrate, it's never too late to have some fun! (Okay, December might be too late.)
Some of the schools around us started their first day back on Monday. So, traffic has picked up a bit here and there around town. Stores are getting low on their school supplies. Families are returning from their summer vacations. Parks and beaches are getting less crowded during the day. There are indicators everywhere that summer break is coming to a close.
But, the end of summer break doesn't need to signify the end of fun! In fact, even if you missed out on doing anything to commemorate the first day of school, you can spread out some of these activities throughout the first week of school or even into the second week to keep the summer fun going. Remember, summer isn't officially over until September 22nd. So, we have lots of time!
Here are 10 Ways to Add Some Fun to Your
First Day of School…
#1 Start a New Tradition for This Year–A New Game to Play Together!
I have the “present” waiting for them on the breakfast table in the morning of our first day back to the books. They all know what it is–well, they know it is a game–just not which one. The anticipation is so fun! They usually start asking what this year's game will be several weeks before school starts. I make them wait until they finish eating, then they all get to tear it open. The rule is that we have to wait to play until school is over. This was a great way to cap off their first day of school when they went to a traditional school, but just as fun now that we are homeschooling. In fact, I've found it gives them extra motivation to get everything done a bit faster in our homeschool day. Special note: Find a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family, or at least most members. Some our favorites have been Twister, Candy Land, Sorry, Monopoly Junior, Mexican Train, Skipbo, Apples to Apples, Guesstures, & Ticket to Ride…just not a video game. The goal is family unity, not just play time!
#2 Plan a Special Meal!
Whether you make them a special breakfast the first day or take them out for ice cream at the end of the week, kids always love to celebrate anything with food–don't we all! I like to make fun letter pancakes. You just have to remember to pour it on the griddle backwards, so the “pretty” side of the pancake has the letter printed correctly. Special Note: Don't make breakfast too complicated, just yummy! The first day can be kind of crazy, so you don't want to go overboard.
#3 Decorate to Add Some Fun to Your Day!
I love to decorate the back of their chairs with streamers and balloons. I add a little sign with their name & grade on it. They love it! After the first week or so, once most of the streamers have been pulled off and the balloons either withered or popped, we move the sign to their bedroom doors. I usually make their signs using construction paper cut in the shape of a star, but we do switch it up a bit. Special note: Make your toddler feel special and make them their own special chair and sign.
#4 Take Lots of Pictures!
I have such great memories of sitting on the steps of my front porch for my first day of school pictures. But I was an only child. Getting out the door to head to school or even just trying to get the books out to start school at home can be hard work on the first day. So, we've been known to do “First Day Re-Do's.” We simply take our pictures on another day to recreate our first day. Please take the pressure off yourself if you forgot or didn't find time to get it done “before” school started. Also, don't forget to get a picture of them with their teacher–even if the teacher is you! Special Note: Take a last day of school picture, too. It's fun to see how much they grow and change in just a short time.
#5 Have Your Kids Fill Out a “Fun Facts” Sheet!
I like to have the kids fill out a First Day of School “Fun Facts” Sheet that I created each year. I have them print their name, grade, age, height, & weight, then ask them questions like what their favorite sport is, what they want to be, goals for themselves this year, what they think their favorite subject will be, favorite book, & what character quality they will work on this year. Be sure to do it with your little ones, too. They will feel special. Often I have them trace their names on the sheet, then I play secretary and fill it out with them. Special Note: I have a Last Day of School “Fun Facts” Sheet, too. It's fun to see if what they put down at the beginning of school is still the same.
#6 Plan a Special Celebration for the “End-of-Summer!”
We love to have a big campout in the backyard, grill something yummy, and then roast some marshmallows for s'mores for our special “End-of-Summer” celebration. We usually invite a few friends to come over and join in the fun! One year all the dads slept outside with the boys, too. I saw flashlights moving around and heard giggles for hours…from the comfort of my soft bed. We usually try to do our camp out before we start school, but it doesn't always happen. So, we just pick a weekend and call some families and make it happen at some point before it gets too cold to camp outside. Special note: When I'm too lazy to get the tent out, we just “camp” inside.
#7 Buy Some New School Supplies!
I probably don't have to say much about this. Most people get new school supplies before heading back to the books. I really just wanted to remind those of us who homeschool, that our homeschool kids like to get new supplies, too. We don't have to get everything new again, but new markers, crayons, & notebooks are fun. This year I created some fun covers for the kids composition books for different subjects. I only wish that I had discovered the self-adhesive laminating sheets earlier, since my contact paper wasn't exactly “clear.” Special note: Again, remember to include your toddler and preschooler into the fun, new supplies. They look at it as presents that they want to get, too.
#8 Start Your School Year Off Slow & Easy!
This is probably more of a tip for homeschool moms, but my advice is to start slow with your first week or two. Don't throw every subject into the mix right off the bat. It is overwhelming for our kids (and us) to re-adjust to our new (non-summer) routine. I know our family is pretty relaxed about our summer schedule. So, jumping in and trying to “do everything” on the first day can leave my kids discouraged and not liking school much. Special note: I find starting with just a good book to read aloud, some history, penmanship, & math are a great way to start. We slowly add in the other subjects as the days go by. By the third week, we have all of our subjects included into our schedule. Also, if you are using a new curriculum–like a different spelling program–think about starting just that subject a week before. This helps to get them comfortable with it. Again, go slow!
#9 Don't Forget Devos & Prayer!
You wouldn't send your kids to school naked, so don't forget to “clothe” them in the Word and “bathe” them in prayer before you drop them off or crack open the books. Even if it's just one Proverb and a quick prayer in the car, it counts!! Special note: If you can get your older kids (readers) into the habit of rising early for a personal devotion, then you will be helping them form a habit that will bless them for eternity! (Literally!) We like the above Devotion Books for our boys: The One Year Devotion for Boys, The Adventure Bible Book of Devotions, Cool Devotions for Guys (2-5yrs), (6-9yrs), & (10-12yrs), & for preschoolers the One Year Devotion Book for Preschoolers (good for girls and boys). I'm sure I'll do another post some day on all the different Bibles and devotion books that I recommend. This should get you started. 🙂
#10 Write Your Kids Special Notes!
Whether it's in a lunch box, on a school desk, bathroom mirror, or a pillow, you will bless your child by leaving a little note somewhere for them to discover. Best yet, do this throughout the year. My “bigs” have Bible study journals that they use for morning devotions. I often add a little note of encouragement in there for them to find. Please know that these are not personal journals, they know I look at them. They are often asked to bring them to me in the mornings, so I can help them with their understanding of the passage they are reading. So, I'm not intruding on their privacy. 🙂 Special note: (about your “special note“) If you have non-readers, it's sometimes fun to cut out little hearts for them to find. You can leave simple “I love you!” notes, too. You'll just have to read them to them.
So, there you have it! Hopefully you'll find some fun new traditions to add to your “First Day of School” routine. Remember, I don't do all this in one day. I spread it out a bit.
Let me know what your fun traditions for the “First Day of School” are, so I can glean from you!
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