The start of another school year (or their first school year) isn’t always met with the enthusiasm that parents may wish. Young kids can be scared of the change in their routine and the prospect of spending the day without mom and dad. And older kids resent the loss of their summer freedom.
To ease the transition, try to encourage kids to look forward to a new season of learning and growth! Making the first day special can impact the way they see the rest of the year! So here are a few ideas that you can use to start them off on the right foot.
1. Give them an educational gift
Try to get your child psyched about the upcoming school year with a gift that they’ll find useful or inspirational. This can vary quite a bit depending on the age of your child.
For little kids, maybe a new lunch box or set of colored pencils will excite them. You could also get them a personalized crayon or pencil case. Or how about a few sheets of stickers that they can use to decorate their school folders?
For older children, a nice new journal or planner could get them enthused (and organized). Or you could get them an inspirational book to read. Does your teen aspire to a career in tech or medicine? Maybe a biography of a famous ground-breaker in their field of interest will stir them to work extra hard this year. If your teen is more of a watcher than a reader, surprise them with an exciting documentary that they can watch when they get home.
Or try a motivational book like Success Principles for Teens: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.
Whatever it is, keep it a surprise until the morning of their first day of school, so you can send them off with a little extra pep in their step!
2. Do a video interview
Put your child in the hot seat. Write out a set of questions that you can ask before the first day of school every year, and then take a video of their answers.
You can ask about their favorite subjects, what they’re looking forward to this year, and what they want to be when they grow up. See how their answers change over the years as your aspiring ballerina becomes an aspiring novelist becomes an aspiring graphic designer. Get it all on video — teenage eye-rolling included. Questions like this can get your child thinking about what he or she is most interested in, which could lead to new hobbies!
When they graduate, you can cut all the videos together into a montage. See how their answers have changed over the years, and watch them grow up before your eyes. Give the video to your child as a meaningful gift when they graduate high school. Try not to cry.
3. Have a post-school party
Turn the start of school into a celebration with a back-to-school party when the kids get home. Decorate the kitchen with streamers and balloons to give the house a festive feeling. Have their favorite music playing when they come in.
You could even make it a theme party, focused on your child’s favorite subject in school. A science party could have green Gatorade and cookies decorated like atoms or beakers. An English party could feature cupcakes topped with pictures of your child’s favorite authors.
Or keep it simple. Make your kiddos their favorite snacks, and ask them to tell you all about their day. Who did they meet? What did they learn? Isn’t it exciting that they get to do it all again tomorrow?
Spend some time in the cheerful party atmosphere before transitioning into any homework that they may have been assigned.
4. Give them their “best day”
Kids can start to dread the end of summer, especially as they get older and school becomes more challenging.
To get your child to look forward to the return to school, designate their last day of summer vacation as their “best day”. Spend the whole day together, but let your kid decide what you’ll do.
You could take your little film buff out to see the latest superhero movie. Or take your animal lover to the zoo. Have a special lunch together at their favorite restaurant. Or if your kiddo is a homebody and just wants to veg out and watch cartoons, you can do that too. Make their favorite snacks and build a fort for an optimal cartoon watching experience.
Make it a regular annual tradition to get your child to look forward to the end of summer, instead of dreading it. If you have several kids returning to school, give them each their own special day in the week before the school year commences. You’ll get one-on-one time with each child where you can talk about what they’re looking forward to in the year ahead.
Help your child to view the start of the academic year as something to celebrate. Framing school as a positive new phase will help them to see learning as something to be enjoyed as they grow older. And a lifelong love of learning is a gift that will never lose its shine!