Back-to-school season is in full swing, and it's making our staff reminisce about our first days of school, both joyous and frightening! We've recently shared some tips from our Parents team about prepping little ones for the first day of school, and some tips from our blogger who's a former teacher about setting up a classroom. But today, we wanted to get more personal. So, I asked my fellow bloggers to share some of their first-day-of-school memories so that we could come up with our top pieces of back-to-school advice:
1. Use storytelling to make the big transition seem a little more manageable.
Blogger Julia G. has shared some of her strategies for preparing her daughter for school, you can read about her transition to pre-K here and how they're getting ready for kindergarten here! One of my favorite tips she offers is using storytelling to help her daughter work out some of her emotions in a safe, slightly removed space. Here's an example of how she might start a story to help suss out how her daughter is feeling about starting school:
Julia: So. It was early September, and Rainbow Bunny had just moved to a new neighborhood, and was going to be a new student in her school. She was feeling pretty excited—
Daughter: No, she was nervous.
Julia: Excited and nervous? Or just nervous?
Daughter: Just nervous.
2. Prepare everything the night before.
Brittany, Lori, Mike, Stephanie and I all agreed that picking out your first day outfit, packing your backpack, and even mentally running through your new routine the night before are great ways to help ease any first-day jitters! Brittany says: "My biggest back to school rituals were shopping for a first day of school outfit and shopping for school supplies, making sure that everything was checked off the list. I was always super nervous and excited the night before the first day of school, but feeling prepared with my outfit and supplies made everything a little bit better."
For Stephanie, figuring out exactly how to get to her classroom and meeting her new teacher helped to settle her nerves and alo gave her family something fun to talk about at dinner the night before school!
3. Eat a good breakfast.
My personal favorite back-to-school ritual was that my mom would make me and my brother a BIG breakfast for the first day of school. Pancakes, eggs, and bacon were always waiting for me on the kitchen table, no matter how early my start time, and as I got older, I came to look on that breakfast as a delicious constant on a day that is always full of changes and new beginnings.
Lori L. agrees! She says, "It's always easier to deal with the nervous energy of a first day if your belly is full!"
4. Document, document, document.
Blogger Morgan B.'s parents would have her siblings pose in front of their house (usually carrying their lunch boxes!) before they boarded the bus every year on the first day.
Morgan's parents weren't the only ones — I asked our bloggers to share some of their first day of school photos! Here's Morgan (and her sisters!), Brittany, and Julia! (My photo from the first day of kindergarten is at the top of the post.)
5. Siblings are the best (sometimes).
Sibling love (or tough love!) was a constant for our bloggers with older brothers and sisters. Since I'm four years older than my brother, we were never actually in the same school at the same time, so this is something I didn't experience! For Mike, his older sister looked out for him on the playground, where she was ready to teach any "tough boys" a thing or two if they messed with her little brother.
For Morgan, who has a twin sister, the first day of third grade was anxiety-filled because the twins were separated in school for the first time. Here's her story: "We moved from a tiny, one-class school to a larger, multi-class school when I was entering third grade. That first day of school was full of anxiety for me, because for the first time, I wasn't going to be sharing a class with my twin sister. We didn't see each other until lunch--which was probably the longest we'd ever been separated at that point!"
Lori also had some separation anxiety on her first day of kindergarten that similarly ended up with her reuniting with her sister in the cafeteria. Unfortunately for Lori, she got more tough love than comfort: "Halfway through the day, I still hadn’t gotten used to being in a brand new, bigger school and I was crying before nap time. Luckily, my brother and sister were in the same school (my sister was in second grade and my brother in thirrd). My teachers couldn’t calm me down so they escorted me to my sister’s lunch period. You might think this was a smart thing to do, but it wasn’t. In true big sister/second-grader fashion, my sister further embarrassed me in front of her friends by calling me a 'baby' for crying so much. Long story short, I went back to my class and took a nap. That was the last time I remember crying on the first day of school."
Here's what YOU had to say: We also asked our readers to share some of their best back-to-school advice! Here's what we heard — including some great advice for teachers!:
Forget about last year and let each student begin with a clean slate. Don't judge students by another teacher's experience with them.— Kimiko Pettis (@kcpteachertips) August 10, 2017
Students: Start off with a great attitude and keep on top of your assignments early on so you don't get behind.— Rebecca S. Reyes (@GiselleMeowerly) August 10, 2017
Teachers: Treat yourself to a mani/pedi and a massage after the first week of school.— Rebecca S. Reyes (@GiselleMeowerly) August 10, 2017
For students: Start going to bed earlier and earlier each night come mid August! #sleepmatters— Parker Farms School (@ParkerFarmsES) August 10, 2017
Everyone is as nervous as you are— Holly Quills and Ivy (@hollyquillsivy) August 10, 2017