Making Memories for Milestones: The First Day of School

By Rita Chavez

As summer is winding to a close, many of us parents are gearing up for the beginning of a new school year.  We as parents love to document those firsts in our children’s lives, from their first teeth to first steps, and the start of kindergarten is no exception.  This milestone opens up a new chapter in our little ones’ lives, when they officially become school-agers.  My daughter, Amelia, had been in day care since she was an infant up until she started school, but starting kindergarten was still a huge first for us, and I wanted to be sure to make her first day of school special and capture her special day. Now that she is entering first grade this fall, we will be carrying on our “first day of school” tradition, and hopefully we will be keeping it up until she graduates from high school.  Here are a few ideas you can do to help make your child’s first day of school memorable.

  1. “First Day of School” Photo: This is probably the most popular way to mark that first day of school and have a memory of it for many years.  There are so many easy ways to make this “first day of school” photo special.  For my daughter, I used sidewalk chalk and drew on our wooden fence to use as a backdrop for her first day of school photo.  I included her name, grade, year, and state we currently live in since we are a military family and move around the world. This made for a fun and easy way to commemorate her first day of school.  You can also make a sign with poster board, use a felt letter board, or use sidewalk chalk on the side walk, and it can include as much or as little detail as you want.  You can also snap a photo in front of a special place in your home.  A friend of mine has taken photos of her children (two of whom are now in college) every year, on the first day of school, in front of their front door.  A tree in the front yard, or a fun pose in front of the family car can make for a silly and memorable photo, as well. 
  1. Go on a “First Day of School” date: This would be a great idea to celebrate after your child has completed their first day of school.  You can take them to eat at one of their favorite restaurants, or grab an ice cream, and this would give you some time to give them your full attention to let them tell you how their first day of school went.  I remember as a child my parents taking me to McDonald’s for hot fudge sundaes on very special occasions and I still have very fond memories whenever I have one as an adult.
  1. Design a “First Day of School” shirt: This one is for some of you who love to get crafty and have artistic children, as this one would enlist the help of your little one.  You could create a t-shirt to wear especially for their first day of school together.  A simple white t-shirt, some fabric markers or puff paint, and a lot of creativity is all this idea would take.  This would be exciting for your little one, since they would be able to express their personality through art and show off your combined efforts to their new friends at school.  This could even work into teen years, and even if they don’t end up wearing their “first day of school” t-shirt to school, it is still a fun bonding activity and is a great way to make that first day of school special.  For those of you who love to sew, collecting the shirts year after year would also give you the opportunity to create a memory quilt when they graduate from high school.
  1. Give a “First Day of School” gift:  A great way to make that first day of school special and memorable for your little ones would be to get them a gift for completing that first day of school.  You could get them a special toy they have been wanting, or give them some flowers or a balloon.  The gift does not have to be extravagant or large, but it would definitely leave an impression on your child and make their first day of school feel extraordinary.  
  1. Write a “First Day of School” letter:   Even if your child may not be able to read when they start kindergarten, you could write a letter to them or even draw them a special picture and give it to them the morning of their first day of school.  You could hide the picture or note in their lunch box as a surprise for them to find and look at, or you could read them the letter in the morning before they head off to school.  These little love notes could be wishes you have for them on their first day of school, words of encouragement, a funny story, or just a plain and simple “I Love You.”  As they get older, the letters may begin to have much more meaning and some reassuring words can go a long way when they are least expecting it. 

No matter their age, our children should have a memorable and exciting first day of school.  As parents, it is up to us to encourage them and to get them looking forward to each new school year, and I hope these ideas will help you make those first days super special for you and your child.

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Rita is an Army wife of ten years and a mom to two little girls.  She graduated from University of Hawaii: West Oahu in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Public Administration, but has a passion for helping animals and most recently worked for the oldest no-kill animal shelter in San Antonio, TX.  As a recent military move led her family to bid goodbye to San Antonio, she now volunteers with The Carrying On Project in Fort Drum, NY, where she shares her love and knowledge of babywearing with other caregivers.  When she is not volunteering, Rita enjoys taking photos of her daughters and dogs, and her hobbies include cooking and crafting.

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