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8 Ways to Make the First Day of School Memorable

8 Ways to Make the First Day of School Memorable


Yes, back to school season is unusual again. But there are still some easy ways parents can make the first day of school memorable. I’m sharing 8 quick ways that families can make the first day of school special. These include a free printable “first day” certificate, a special party, simple craft and a back to school interview.

Young girl holding a back to school interview page on a clipboard

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Make the First Day of School Memorable

Last year my 3 school-aged kids completed the entire 2020 school year via distance learning. It was a strange school year to say the least! This year all the kids including my new kindergartner are back in the classroom! I want to create special memories for them. It’s important to keep routines, especially when things have so drastically changed lately. 

The entire 2020 school year was conducted at home

The ideas in this post are simple and easy ways to make the first day of school memorable, whatever that looks like for you. We’re all already feeling overwhelmed. So these quick tips are intended to be special without stretching you too thin. I’ve included sweet ideas to make kids feel loved and excited about their first day “back” to school. This includes a free printable first day certificate, back to school interview and tips for easy ways to celebrate.

Editor’s Note: This post originally published when my youngest son was beginning kindergarten (he’s now going into the 4th grade).

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.
First day of kindergarten!

Are Your Kids Excited About School?

It’s back to school season! And either your kid is on-board and excited – or they’re not. Some of your children might be looking forward to the first day of school, thrilled to see friends again.

Some kids, on the other hand, might be a bit nervous. Last year was hard. And different. Let’s agree – It was oh-so-weird.

Getting back into a class routine might be tricky for many children. I think a lot of kids also just have way too much fun in the summer and don’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…

For my four kids, I want to make sure that the first day of school is something really memorable and special for them. While the teens get themselves motivated, my younger kids need a little encouragement. I created these fun and easy ways to make the first day of school memorable. These are particularly sweet for very young children (though secretly, my teens get a kick out of them too!) 

Do you have younger siblings at home? Get the tips on what to do with preschoolers during distance learning.

1. A Special Wake-Up

I’ll be honest. On most days, I wake up my kids by either snapping on the overhead light or opening the window to let in the sunshine! But on the first day of school (and maybe even for the entire first week), I’ll wake them in a special way. Here are a few ideas to try with your kids to start the morning on the right side of the bed:

  • Take a picture of them sleeping first. There’s nothing cuter than a sleeping kiddo!
Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad
  • For my music-loving kindergartner, I put his favorite dance song on the Echo Dot Kids Edition before waking him gently. He happily jumped out of bed when he heard the music.
  • Long ago when my eldest son was in kindergarten I’d wake him up with a finger puppet character. Seriously. For some reason he’d get mad if I tried waking him up myself. But if Madame Queen the finger puppet awoke him by bopping him on the head he thought it was hilarious! Hey, you do what you can to keep the morning routine from completely melting down from the start, right?
  • If your kid resists parents waking him up, try a kid-friendly alarm clock. Try the Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock. It has a colorful nightlight, with natural sounds and adjustable lighting.

2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right

My kids would eat these fluffy pancakes morning, noon, and night. I know that pancakes or waffles would be their request for the first day of school breakfast. If you have the time to make a special breakfast (at least on the first day), definitely try to make it happen. 

  • Take a breakfast request a few days before the first day so you can make sure to have all the ingredients on hand.
  • If morning time is tight, consider preparing as much as possible the night before. I tend to make waffles or pancakes in batches and freeze them. Then I can just pop in the toaster to reheat in the morning.
  • Even if you only have time for cold cereal, make the meal more well-rounded by adding fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries or sliced strawberries.
  • Do you need additional breakfast inspiration? Check out this extensive list of Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids.

3. First Day Photo Op

I’ll admit it, I’m a photo-taking-social-media-sharing-mama! I love to take a cute first day photo and share it for everyone to see. Going back to school is a major event! So taking photos is an important activity that makes the first day of school memorable for your kids.

  • Document each step in the morning process, from waking up your student, breakfast, choosing their outfit, their backpack and lunch box, to catching the school bus. 
  • Take your first day of school photo in the same place each year. It’s awesome to see the growth of your kiddos!
  • Get inside the classroom and take a photo of your child sitting at their desk. Learning from home this year? Take a photo of their homeschool area!
Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Looking for stress-free school mornings? I share my secrets for a streamlined morning routine that will have everyone up, on-time and excited to start their school day.

4. Back to School Craft to Give

Ease the first day of school jitters with these cool back to school bookmarks! Kids can make them for friends and teachers using the directions on this article for crafting handmade bookmarks. Having a gift to give out on the first day can help kids get excited for returning to the classroom again!

5. Welcome Home!

When my kids come home from their first day, they’re always overflowing with things to share. They want to tell me all about so-and-so in their class, a strict new teacher or what they did at recess. With so many kids returning back to the classroom this year, a sincere welcome home is definitely in order!

Several years ago I surprised my kids with a special “welcome home” window that celebrates the first day of school. In particular, I knew my 5-year old would love the decorations and fanfare for his first day of kinder!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary Glass Pen Marker Colorful crepe paper announces the first day of school! No need to buy anything fancy. You probably have something you can use to create a back to school decor using whatever leftover party supplies on hand.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

The whole thing went together in just a few minutes and the impact was great. Check out the happy face on my kindergartner! And the big kids thought it was pretty cool too. 

6. A First Day of School Memento – FREE PRINTABLE

I’ve created this first day of school certificate printable that will make the first day of school memorable. My son proudly held his “award” for completing his first day of kindergarten so I could take a picture. 

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Simply write in the name of your student and the date presented. After you take a photo of your student with their award, stow it for safekeeping in a school memory folder. I have a 3-ring binder for each child that holds awards and certificates.

7. Back to School Party

If you have extra time on the first day, try this awesome back to school breakfast party. Serve up a kid-friendly meal and have your students “shop” for school supplies at the breakfast table.

There are tons of tips in the post with ideas on what to serve, decorations and how to create this party as a community gathering for multiple families.

School supplies on tabletop

8. Back to School Interview – FREE PRINTABLE

Your child’s first day back at school is a momentous occasion! Use this back to school questionnaire as a keepsake from these special days. It’s an ideal way to document changes over the years and is a fun way to make the first day of school memorable!

first day of school interview

Looking for more free printables? From unicorns to race cars you’re sure to find a themed behavior chart your kids will love. How will YOU make the first day of school special for your kids?

This post was originally published on Sep 15, 2017 and has been updated and republished.

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