I’m pretty sure someone has invented a time machine and entered my life into warp speed, because I have two kiddos in school this year. My oldest daughter will be going into first grade, and my oldest son is starting preschool. I don’t know how this happened, or where the time has gone (or how on earth I’m going to manage without my kids every day!) However, the  teacher inside of me is thrilled to pieces for my Hannah and Henry, and I’m so excited to see how they will  grow this year. Both my kids are starting new schools this year as well, so I really want to go out of my way to make their first day something special! Here is what we do at our house….These are all very realistic ideas. While I would love to fill up a room with balloons or make little scrapbooks, etc….I would rather focus on things I KNOW I can get done, and I’d rather share those kinds of ideas with you. Have fun sending your kids off to school!

1. Flowers

When I was growing up, my dad began a special tradition with me. When he would come home from work on the first day of school each year, he would have one rose for each grade. (Ie-I got 5 roses on the first day of 5th grade, 11 the first day of junior year, etc.) I loved receiving flowers as a little girl, and really loved that this special gift came from my dad. I am excited that my husband is planning on surprising Hannah with a single flower this year. (This tradition is just for the girls…can’t say my son would be all that thrilled with a flower…)

2. Breakfast

It doesn’t matter what you select, but choose something “special” to start off each school year, and make it your tradition. Your child will come to count on the special pancake breakfast (or mom’s sausage scramble, french toast, etc.) In our house we have a “It’s My Special Day” plate, and Hannah will get to eat her breakfast on the special plate as well. Thankfully, our kids start school on two different days this year. (I think I’m going to eventually have to buy FOUR special day plates!)

3. Front Porch Picture

Every year, take your child’s photo in the same place. It is a great way to mark the time, and to see how your child grows and changes throughout the years. My mom has all of my first day pictures together in an album,and it is fun to go through them, see my excitement (and wonder why on earth I made certain fashion choices..)

Pictures stating “1st Day of _____” are all the rage on mom blogs right now. I only found one set of printables, and didn’t care for them, so I quickly made up one of my own. Feel free to check it out and/or modify it. I saw that one of my friends had a similar sign and even framed it, and took a picture of her child holding the frame. Super cute, and you’ll never have to try to figure out which year your child was starting when you go back through pictures years from now.

1st Day of School Picture Template

4. A New Book

I know I’ve mentioned once or twice (or lots more) that I am passionate about children’s books. I love all of the great children’s literature out there, and love being able to share it with my children. We have decided that on the first day of school each year, our children will receive a new book. Yes, our kids get books all the time, but having the book tradition will be something they come to count on, and may wonder, “Which book will be waiting for me downstairs tomorrow?” A book is the perfect present. A book encourages literacy, learning, wonder, creativity….everything you want for your child as they head into the classroom. Last year,Hannah received “Curious George Goes to School”. This year, I’m giving her, “Junie B. First Grader at Last!” (I can’t wait! She’s been reading about a Junie B. book a day this summer, so I know she’ll love it!) I haven’t picked out Henry’s book yet.

5. A Note in The Lunchbox

Remind your child in the middle of their day that you are thinking about them! I have seen everything from using chalkboard paint to create a “writable” surface in a lunchbox (only works in the non-insulated boxes though), to custom designed notes, to simple hand-written “I love you” cards! It doesn’t matter how fancy or how plain the paper is….the sentiment and the thought is what counts. I KNOW I will make Hannah smile when she finds a little note from her mom tucked in with her sandwich and yogurt. (Henry won’t be eating lunch at school yet….next year!)

Here are some cute Disney lunch note printables for you to check out! If you google, “lunch note printables” you will come up with a TON of options. Choose something your child can read on their own. Older children might enjoy a joke, while a younger child may simply appreciate an “I miss you” or “You can do it!” Let them know about an upcoming event, something to look forward to, how many days until Christmas, etc. Just have fun with it!

6. A Hot Meal to Come Home To

I know just how exhilarating and exhausting the first day of school can be! I thought that my girl deserved to select what her dinner will get to be on her first day. I let Hannah look through all of my cookbooks and choose just what she wanted for dinner on her first day. This tradition will continue. When multiple children in our house begin school, I may have to re-work this tradition (or just make LOTS of food!) Hannah chose chicken pot pie, grapes, and dirt cups for her special meal last year. (It was SO fun to see what she picked!) This year, I can’t wait to see what she and her brother pick on their first days….should be interesting, but anything goes! (If you’re not a cook, let them choose a restaurant, or a special store-bought dessert!) Have fun and help your child ENJOY their first day! Keep the language you use to discuss school POSITIVE! Talk about how much fun it will be, the new friends they will make, and how much they will learn. If you drop your child off in the morning, keep your goodbye QUICK. Tears may come, but be assured that they go away quickly. (I was a school teacher before staying at home, and I promise, I’ve never had a student cry for more than about 5 minutes on the first day. If that.) Reassure young ones that you WILL be back to pick them up (meet them at the bus stop, etc.) Let older children know that it is okay to feel nervous or upset, but affirm them that they CAN do it. (If YOU are nervous about it, don’t let them see it! Fear is contagious.) ENJOY your first day with your little ones.