Celebrate! New Beginnings

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

How do you celebrate the start of the new school year with your kids? Your enthusiasm makes a difference. Even if your kids aren’t excited to go back to school, you can talk about what you love about learning and new beginnings.

In our home, we celebrate the first day of school by getting the kids up a bit earlier so they can savor a favorite breakfast. Sometimes we make pancakes or waffles from scratch. Some years, we’ve swung by a bakery to pick up a special treat. The first day of school is the only day of the year when we do this, which makes it extra-special!

We also take a photo of our kids each year on their first day of school. They usually stand on the steps in front of our house with their backpacks. It’s always interesting to see their progression over the years: they grinned when they were young; they scowled when they became teenagers, but we took pictures no matter how they looked. Now that our eldest is in college, he loves looking through these first-day-of-school pictures. We even took a first-day-of-school picture when we dropped him off at college. We took one photo of him in front of the college sign and another in front of the dorm sign.

If you’re really techno-centric, you may want to do a short video interview of your child on his first day of school. Ask: What are you most looking forward to? What would you rather skip? or What do you think you’ll be when you grow up? You may find that your child wants to be a fire fighter in kindergarten, a police officer in first grade, the president of the United States in second grade, a doctor in third grade, a lawyer in fourth grade, a scientist in fifth grade, and a photographer in sixth grade!

Try writing a short note or drawing a picture your child to look at while riding the bus (or eating lunch at school). When my kids were in elementary school, I sent a knock-knock joke each Friday, a friend’s dad created a tradition of sending a drawing a day in his daughter’s lunchbox.

Our local school district has a wonderful tradition called “Day One”. On the first day of school, the music teachers serenade the students as they enter the school. Each year, the elementary orchestra teacher plays his violin, and parents may show up with pom poms and do cheers. At the high school, student council members do random acts of welcome by randomly handing out treats and affirming messages. Even if your school district doesn’t make a big deal about the first day of school, you can. After school (or after work), treat your child to something special. Some parents give a small gift or buy their child’s favorite ice cream. Some take their child out to eat to celebrate. Others cook their child a favorite meal.

As my kids grew older, they rolled their eyes at the fanfare. They still enjoyed, however, the small gift we had waiting for they got home from school. We also took them out to eat the first weekend after school started. That way we could learn a bit more about their first week of school. By then, they had a stronger idea of what they thought of their teachers and classes.

Whatever you do, find a way to celebrate the first day—or first week—of school. By making it a celebration, you’re showing your kids that you value education, their education.

Tell Us:——> What are your back to school traditions?



School Success, ParentFurther, http://www.parentfurther.com/parenting/school-success.

Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, ParentFurther, http://www.parentfurther.com/why/developmental-assets.

3. Image via flattop341 on Flick’r.


Back to School has always been a hard time for me as a child. It was a time full of stress and anxiety. So, I’ve made it my goal to help my kids get excited about school. Our back to school tradition is that on the first day of school I stay home from work and get the kids off to the bus stop. Then after they have left I hang streamers, balloons, and signs up welcoming them home from their first day. We site and have a snack to talk about what happened that day. We share the best and not so good…

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