Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making First Day of (Home) School Special


Anticipation often runs high for the first day of school, especially for children who have taken a summer break. You may have already started school, and if so, I apologize for not thinking of this blog idea before now. Maybe you can find a way to use some of them later on. For those who start school after Labor Day, you still have time to incorporate some of these ideas into your first day. So without further delay, here are my top ten suggestions for marking the start of a new school year.

1)      Serve a special breakfast. Start the school year off right with a memorable breakfast. What will make the kids tumble happily out of bed? Chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream on top? Bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast skillet? Biscuits and gravy? Donuts from the store? You may serve oatmeal every day after this, but unless that is a family favorite, skip the oatmeal just this once and serve up a plate of fun. ;-)

2)         Surprise them with balloons. What kid doesn't love a large and colorful mylar balloon? They sell for a dollar each at The Dollar Tree and similar stores, so get one or get a bouquet of them. Education is worth celebrating, so celebrate with balloons!

3)      Take a first-day photo. This is a fun way to track their progress. You might snap the shot next to a height chart each year to watch your children’s growth. You might choose to photograph everyone lined up on the couch with their new pencils and books. The choice is yours. Display it on your bulletin board or slip it into a small photo album with the rest of your homeschool first-day photos.

4)      Give a first-day goody bag. My kids always loved this tradition. I would present each one with a gift bag into which I had placed items such as pencils, erasers, markers, large and small notebooks, an activity pad, a reading-for-fun book, and a few small candies. It added excitement to each first day of homeschool and was something they always looked forward to.

5)      Let the student(s) choose the lunch menu. You might give them a few options (especially if you are afraid they will ask for something crazy like ice cream and soda pop). Taking a lunch break with a favorite food makes it seem like an all-day education celebration! :-) Maybe you'll serve cupcakes  or cookies for dessert that they can decorate themselves!

6)      Play a new game. There are so many fun educational games on the market. I used to buy a new one every year to add to our collection. Play your game today and show your kids that learning is fun!

7)      Design a family flag with the name of your homeschool on it. Let those creative juices flow. When I registered as a homeschool, I had to choose a name for it. I wanted something cutesy like Gumdrop Primary School, but my kids had other ideas. We ended up being Eaglegate Academy. Naturally, our flag would have featured an eagle. You may already have a homeschool name, but if not, now is a great time to come up with one and to design a flag to go with it. You can display your flag on the fridge or on a bulletin board. Teach your children to take pride in their home education.

8)     Pray and ask God to bless you all and to have His way in your homeschool. I hope this is something you already do.

9)    Bless your children. Take the time on this day to tell each one what character traits you see in them, what talents and skills, what makes each one special. Tell each child how thankful you are to be that child's parent. Some days you may not feel so thankful; just remember that those feelings will pass. Let each child know that they are a heaven-sent blessing.
                                                                                               
My Kids with Willie Aames (aka Bibleman) in 2000 or 2001.
Our homeschool name came from a Bibleman video.
10)    Smile! God loves you, and He loves your children too. Don’t stress yourself unduly with goals. Don’t worry that educating them at home will somehow stunt their social or academic growth. God knew what He was doing when He called you to homeschool. Trust Him. And at least for today, relax and remind yourself that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

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