School is one of the most important things your kids are doing, and sets the foundation for their future learning habits and abilities. It’s a huge part of their development, and it’s important for parents to make sure they are setting the right tone for kids to thrive in school.
It’s easy to get little kids excited for school most of the time, but it can get harder as they get older and feel more pressure to perform. Here are some easy ways make the first day of school special for your kids, and to carry the positive feelings about going back to school throughout their education.
Step 1: Prepare In Advance
It’s easy for the first day of school to sneak up on you, but resist the urge to let it! Start preparing yourself and your kids a few days before school actually starts.
Getting ready for school can really help build excitement and anticipation. Try to keep school prep light and exciting, rather than getting too caught up on rules or potentially stressful aspects of returning to school.
Make sure your kids are involved in choosing things like their backpack, lunchbox, and school supplies. Try to make sure each of your kids gets at least one thing that feels special and important to them, even if it isn’t necessarily the most practical.
Start talking about going to school too. Remind your kids about all the friends and new experiences they’re going to have this school year. It may be a good idea to remind older kids about the best parts of their school experience so far, too, especially if they are starting to worry about some aspects of going back to school.
Step 2: Special Breakfast
Breakfast really helps kids set the tone for the rest of the day. Try to make them something special that they enjoy and will give them plenty of energy for the day ahead.
Remember that you aren’t just looking for something that is delicious and exciting. Try to find ways to incorporate good nutrition like fresh fruit, plenty of protein, and a range of different nutrients in the meal. But don’t be afraid to break out the fun pancakes, food coloring, sprinkles, or whipped cream to help make the meal stand out!
Step 3: Capture the Moment!
Don’t forget to memorialize the first day. Taking pictures to enjoy later is also a great way to emphasize that this is an important and exciting moment, even if your kids seem embarrassed or act like it’s silly in the moment.
The truth is that you, as their parent or guardian, set the tone for them, and your excitement will help excite your kids, even if they don’t want to admit it!
If you have the opportunity, consider including new classmates or existing friends in the fun. When everyone is excited and feels included you’re helping create camaraderie and good feelings that will help all year long.
Step 4: Personalized School Supplies
Kids are figuring out who they are, and it’s important to let them do that in their school supplies too. Consider taking some time to write your child’s name on their personal supplies, and add stickers and other fun surprises to their school kits.
Older kids may want to do their own personalization, but it’s a good idea to encourage them and ask them what they need to make their school supplies feel special. Washi tape, art supplies, and getting specific colors or themes in their supplies can all help them feel like you know and value who they are as they get older.
Step 5: Add A Heartfelt Note
One of the best ways to make back-to-school time special is to give your kids little notes or presents for them to find later. Sneak these into their spiral notebooks, binders, backpacks, or lunchboxes, somewhere you know they’ll find them.
Feel free to be as silly, serious, or heartfelt as you want to be, just make sure it’s genuine, encouraging, and relatively quick. These notes can help give your kids a quick confidence boost when they need one, and you’d be surprised how many kids will save these notes for later!
Step 6: Surprise Snacks!
The first day of school is special. Adding a favorite snack, a small treat, or something they can share with friends is a great way to make the day feel special.
Some kids can feel discouraged around lunch time on a day back at school. So something special snuck into their lunch an help them regain their energy and confidence and face the rest of the day with excitement!
Step 7: Celebrate!
The first day of school is exciting, fun, intimidating, and anxiety-producing all at once! Help your kids process the day and all of their excitement by letting off some steam in a small celebration at home. Have some of their favorite snacks handy, and take some time to ask them about their favorite parts of the day, the people they met, their new friends, and what they’re looking forward to.
Don’t forget letting off some steam! Color powder celebrations in the backyard can help them release all that extra energy, unwind, and get them ready to turn anxiety into excitement for the new year. Let them choose specific colors for what they are feeling, or even pick a wish for each color!
Non-toxic color powder is a safe and fun way to turn back-to-school celebrations into something special and unique. Who knows, their friends might even want to get in on the fun.
Step 8: Plan A Welcome Back Party With Friends
A big part of going to school as a kid is about developing social skills and learning how to manage relationships with other people.
So, while you’re worried about grades and homework, don’t forget to make space for their social lives and friendships at the same time!
Consider planning a weekend party with friends and classmates at the end of the first week. Or invite close friends and family for a more intimate gathering.
Don’t forget to encourage your kids to let you know what’s going on socially, or to ask for friends to come over and time with their peers throughout the year. It can be hard for kids to speak up sometimes and ask for that social time they need, but it’s important for their development! Including your kids’ friends early and often can help them make the most of their time in school and is sure to make you a popular parent!
Extras To Carry The Excitement All Year!
It’s easy to get excited for the first day of school. But it’s more challenging to help kids stay excited and motivated year-round. Here are a couple of things you can do to help your kids stay excited, even as they become teenagers or are facing tougher challenges at school.
Homework is often one of the hardest parts of school for kids. In a lot of families, homework is an expectation, rather than something that can be rewarded and praised. But giving your kids rewards, ranging from micro-rewards for individual assignments to larger celebrations for consistent performance or good homework grades can make a big difference in their motivation.
It’s not just about rewarding your kid. It’s also about showing them that you see and appreciate how hard they are working and helping them develop a strong work ethic in a developmentally understandable way.
As your kids get older, you can even get them involved in creating their own rewards. Help them set realistic goals and rewards for reaching those goals. As they succeed, make it more challenging to get to those rewards, and encourage them to find ways to self-motivate between rewards.
Take Time To Reflect And Reassure
Going to school can also introduce a lot of anxieties and insecurities, especially since kids can be cruel! Giving your kids time to reflect, and taking the time to reassure them on their insecurities, big and small.
When your kids are younger, this can be a great opportunity to help them establish coping mechanisms and self-regulation tools that will serve them well when they are older. As they get older, establishing this space will make it easier for your kids to come to you when they are dealing with more serious challenges in life.
Plus, creating the space to address anxieties and worries early can also help intercede before small concerns become big problems in your kid’s mind. You can empower them to feel prepared by helping them tackle small problems and overcome the little challenges, so the bigger challenges don’t feel as impossible.
Helping your kids have a good first day of school might seem like a small thing, but it’s a small thing that can make a big difference over time.
You don’t have to do all of the things we’ve outlined in this article of course. Even one or two of these things can make a big difference, especially if you focus on the ways you can share celebrations with your kid and help them feel special and valued.
These small reassurances can really help your kid form a positive association with school and learning, which sets a stronger foundation for their future success.
And, no matter how old your kid is or how many kids you have, good luck, and hopefully this school year will be the best one yet!