And Other Back to School Traditions
Two words – dinosaur pancakes. Since I can remember, my mom always started the first day of school each year by serving up pancakes shaped like dinosaurs for breakfast. That was the only time of year we delighted in such a breakfast menu, and I honestly have no idea what brought about this slightly odd tradition. But it stuck, and it meant something. And 30+ years later I serve my kids dinosaur pancakes for breakfast as they celebrate their first day of school each year. If you’re looking for some ways to send your kids off on that first day with an extra dose of “mom love”, check out these ideas (and please share your own!).
Dinosaur pancakes (or another slightly odd breakfast item)
I doubt my mom knew how trendy she was back in the day, but manufacturers now make pancake forms so you can shape your dinosaurs to perfection. My kids prefer to see how well my art skills are coming along and want me to wing it (and sometimes I just end up serving dinosaur eggs – slightly oval griddle cakes).
I have this dinosaur set, but you can also find flowers, cars, trains, hearts, and for the really precise pancake eaters – circular pancake forms. Kids can decorate the pancakes with fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, or whipped cream.
Back to School Scrapbook
I just saw my cousin’s post this morning on Facebook of her grandkids heading to the bus stop on their first day. Some looked excited and some looked like they wished they were still sleeping. Even as a homeschooler I take “first day of school” pictures with my kids. Take this common tradition and add some extra special touches to create a back to school scrapbook, adding to it each year (imagine how awesome that will be for graduation!).
- Take a “good morning picture” of your sleepyhead before he has had his dinosaur pancakes and put on his new clothes. (warning – some teenage girls are not fans of this tradition…)
- Take a family picture, and get Dad in on it before he heads to work.
- Get the pictures developed or print them yourself during the day, then as a bedtime activity add them to the scrapbook with your kids.
- Have your kids write down a memory from that first day – good or bad – and add it to the scrapbook.
- You can include other items, such as receipts from school supplies, price tags from gym shoes, or the headlines from the morning paper.
Hopes and Worries in a Jar
The first day of school represents more than new classes and fresh notebooks. It is the start of new goals, dreams, fears, and challenges. Kids often have mixed feelings about starting a new year of school, and even as parents we have our own trepidations and excited emotions. Help keep the family in check by trying this activity (usually a good one to work through together the night before the first day of school).
- Take a mason jar, vase, or even an empty coffee can and decorate it with your kids. (Back to school sales often include school related stickers, or you can just have your kids paint the jar as well.)
- Get everyone in the family together and spend a few moments talking about the next day (and the next year that lies ahead). If you have younger kids, read a book together such as
A Boy and a Turtle: A Children’s Relaxation Story, Helping Young Children Increase Creativity While Lowering Stress and Anxiety Levels
- Talk ith your kids about worries, plans, goals and dreams. Reiterate to them that worries are natural, but that they don’t have to stop us from reaching our dreams.
- Write down on a notecard one of your own worries for the next day. Maybe it is that you won’t be able to make it to your meeting on time. Then share with your kids how you hope to still reach your goal (plan for an earlier lunch, take 10 extra minutes in the morning to gather your paperwork, etc.).
- Write down one of your hopes for the next day, and again share with your child how you plan to make your “hope” into a reality.
- Add your worry and hope notes into the Hopes and Worries jar.
- Encourage your child to do the same for his or her worries about school the next day. When you know what your child’s worries are, you can help him find ways to make them into smaller obstacles.
- Have him add his worries and hopes to the jar.
- The next evening after the first day of school, go back to the jar and pull out the notes. Talk with your kids about whether or not you were all able to set aside the worries and bring the hopes to life.
Back to school time is one of my favorite times of year. The dreams, plans, and goals for the year are new and exciting, reminding me of how I felt each time I brought one of my children home from the hospital after they were born. Keep that joyful excitement in your house as you try some back to school traditions – and please share what you do in your home to make this a special time of year.