Hold a first-day photo shoot. Keep the mood light by suggesting silly faces or letting the family pet join in. Can’t stop snapping? Capture your child stepping off the school bus in the afternoon. Make it a lasting family tradition by having her pose by the same tree, swing, or mantel every year.
Bury a time capsule
Fill a box or jar with mementos that capture your child’s current interests. Include a journal entry or video diary — he can list favorite movies, books, and bands and describe first-day fears, friends he can’t wait to see, and goals for the year.
Get lost in a library labyrinth
Get her back in the school zone with a scholarly scavenger hunt. Make a list of five to ten questions to be answered by using different resources at the library. Include questions from reference books, trivia collections, and obscure clues about family favorites.
See how he measures up
Using a growth chart or the inside of a closet door, mark your child’s current height. Keep track year by year to point out growth spurts and predict progress. To encourage follow-up fun, plant a tree together and track how much it grows before next fall.
Plan a bus-stop breakfast social
Invite neighborhood kids to get an early start the day before school begins. Fill a decorated wagon with juice boxes, fruits, and muffins. Haul it to the local bus stop at the usual pick-up time as a dress rehearsal for the big day.
Savor special treats
Sneak a love note into her lunchbox to show you’re thinking of her. The first day can be nerve-racking, so go for comfort food when dinner rolls around. Order a family favorite at the local pizzeria or savor a cool dessert as summer comes to a close.
Throw a back-to-school bash
Team up with neighbors to get the kids together before school starts. Send out report card invitations, serve lunch-box favorites, and decorate with school colors. Make brown-bag book covers, decorate calendars, and design bookmarks — ring a bell when it’s time to switch activities!
Dress to impress
Celebrate a fresh year with a special outfit, spotless sneakers, or a whole new haircut. Let him choose his wardrobe the night before. Whether it’s his favorite souvenir t-shirt or his lucky jersey, it will give him an extra boost of confidence on the big day.
Learn something new
Get those classroom habits back with a fun family activity like pottery or rock climbing. It will encourage creativity, improve concentration, and leave you with a new morning mug or a little extra muscle.
Require a rule-bending hullabaloo
Break a few school rules before getting back to business: Dedicate one afternoon to getting all the summer fun out of his system. Have paper airplane contests, spit watermelon seeds, and wear pajamas during the day.