Yes, this back to school season is unusual and definitely like no other we’ve ever experienced! But there are still some easy ways parents can make the first day of school memorable. I’m sharing five quick ways that families can make the first day of school special, including a free printable “first day” certificate.
Make the First Day of School Memorable
At the time of this writing, my 3 school-aged kids will begin their 2020 school year via distance learning. It’s a strange start to the school year but I still want to create special memories for them. It’s important to keep routines, especially when things have so drastically changed lately.
The ideas in this post are simple and easy ideas 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, including a free printable FIRST DAY certificate.
Editor’s Note: This post originally published when my youngest son was beginning kindergarten (he’s now going into the 3rd grade). I’ve kept most of the text about him starting school and original photos from the 2017 publishing.
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. Three out of my four kids are now in school. My two oldest are in their final year of junior high. My five year old just started kindergarten. The teens were looking forward to the first day of school. They were excited to see friends and finish their last year before high school.
My kindergartner on the other hand was a bit nervous. Which wasn’t like him at all, really. He’s always been fairly independent. And so smart, he just loves to learn. I think he just had way too much fun this summer during our at home summer staycation and didn’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…
I wanted to make sure that the first day of school was something really memorable and special for him. While the teens got themselves motivated, my kinder kid needed 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 got a kick out of them too!)
Do you have younger siblings at home during virtual learning? 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!
- 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. This Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock has a colorful nightlight, natural sounds and adjustable lighting.
2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right
My five year old would eat waffles morning, noon, and night. I know that waffles will be his 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 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!
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. 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. Naturally this year with many kids learning from home, you might miss out on this. But if you have the opportunity to create this special surprise, go for it!
I wanted to surprise 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!
Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary Glass Pen Marker and crepe paper announcing 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.
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.
5. 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.
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.
Click to print – FREE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE
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.