Summer, with the exception of some holidays, is the most magical time of year for children. School is out! Long, lazy days filled with friends, pools, and adventurous fun. Yet, as it always is in life, all seasons must come to an end to make way for the next. The phrase “back to school” to a great many kids sounds akin to “take him/her to the dungeon.” As parents, one of our most important duties is to ensure a quality education for our children. Step one is to try our best to help them actually enjoy learning, and to not dread each school year like a new plague has come upon them. If we can make the transition from summer to the new school year exciting and worthy of celebration, we can set our kids off in the right direction for the school year. The possibilities of creativity are endless in this pursuit, but here are 7 different ideas to help. We would love to hear all of your suggestions as well!
1. Back to School Party
No other action kicks off a new season better than throwing a party. Get together with the kids and make a guest list, have them hand make the invitations in a school theme, and decorate your home with creative school-themed ideas. Maybe construction paper garland strewn about the house, candy teacher’s apples, and cheese stick pencils. If you are friends with a few teachers, consider inviting them as well and ask them to give a few light-hearted inspirational words to all the children for the new school year.
2. Cafeteria Food Night
As the school year draws near, set aside an evening dinner dedicated to everyone’s favorite, the school cafeteria. The food provided at most schools has been the butt of jokes for as long as any person reading this has been alive. Despite the efforts to revise, make healthier, or what have you, the school cafeteria will probably always remain the object of ridicule and scorn. Have some playful fun with this fact and get the kids back in school mode by having cafeteria food night. Put a hair net on, break out some cafeteria trays, and serve up “the best of the worst” our schools have to offer. You could serve chicken nuggets, pizza slices (preferably square), garden salads, applesauce, and of course small cartons of milk. If you are truly daring, there could even be a food fight. Good luck.
3. Make a New Friend Day
For some children, one of the most difficult aspects of school is the social part. Meeting new people and making new friends does not come easy to all kids. For every child that “never met a stranger,” there are 9 that are very shy and insecure. We need to help teach that child how to make new friends. In regards to their feelings of self-worth, we build that by providing an abundance of love and security inside the home, and by having wide-open lines of communication. With shyness, it takes a more delicate path and patience. One fun way to encourage a shy child is to have a “make a new friend day.” Before summer ends, take your child to a playground, arcade, or a favorite place and sit with them to people watch for a bit. Both parent and child should pick out another parent and child they perceive as friendly and attempt to engage them in conversation. Your child will not feel as scared if you are doing it with him, and this teaches him to overcome his feelings of fear. You can be there for your child during the school year by joining an All Pro Dad’s Day chapter.
4. Celebrate Famous Children’s Literature
Reading is an enormous part of our children’s education and there is no shortage of amazing and incredible books at their disposal. Help excite them by celebrating their favorite characters. Have a “Green Eggs and Ham” night at home and make the infamous Seuss meal for your family to eat. Perhaps make your own spin off “Goodnight Moon” each night at bedtime. “Where the Wild Things are,” or “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” offer intriguing possibilities as well.
5. Shop outside the Lines
We all get those lists of required school supplies from the teachers. The stores are prepared for us and they have everything we need ready and waiting for us. It is a yearly ritual and one that most kids tend to enjoy. It is what they have to do with all those supplies that they dread. Still, all children tend to have a favorite pencil box, notebook, or journal. It becomes like a trusted friend to them. The trouble with those lists and those well-stocked, prepared stores is that they confine our children to all have the same exact things. There is no uniqueness or individual personality to be shown. All children pick from the yellow, red, blue, or green folders. It stifles imagination. Allow your child to have some input on at least a few items and take them shopping “outside the lines.” Go to a family-owned stationary store or shops that are off the beaten path and let them find a notebook with a cover that appeals to who they are. A journal that has enough character to be worthy of the character that will be written within it. Purchase a pencil that will make them smile when doing math. Shop outside the lines and build their imaginations.
6. Turn the Tables Night
This is an exercise in building confidence in our kids as well as providing them a lesson in what it is like to be the one who is trying to teach. Ask your child to pick any topic they wish and make a presentation to teach it to the rest of the family. Set up a “classroom” in your living room. The students will be you (the parents), other siblings, friends, dogs, cats, and whatever or whomever else is around. After the presentation is made, have the “teacher” administer a test for each student and then grade them on what they learned. It is a very fun game and your child will gain greater respect for their teachers in the coming school year.
7. Goodbye Summer Story
Help your children gain closure with summer and get geared up to work by writing a “goodbye summer” story together. Sit down as a family and recall all the events of the past summer. List the vacations, the memorable meals, the crazy moments, the adventures with friends, and then put them into story form to make a lasting memory for your family to cherish. And with that, send them off to school…new supplies in tow, ready and eager to take the next step in their childhood growth.
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Huddle Up Question
“Back to school. Nervous, excited, or both?”