It’s back to school season with the last of the schools in the U.S. starting up after this Labor Day weekend comes to a close. Children are trying on outfits, putting their names on backpacks and picking out new lunchboxes. But beyond the ritual of buying schools supplies, what can you do to create a sacred space around going back to school?
Starting a new grade is a big rite of passage for children — one that more often than not goes by unnoticed. In the flutter, hurry and relief(!) of finally getting those kids back in school, busy parents don’t have a lot of time to mark the moment. So here are 3 easy ways to honor the back to school process.
1. Special Breakfast. For many years I had a habit of making the children a special breakfast for the first day of school. The food wasn’t that fancy, just French toast and orange juice usually. But I made a special effort to set the table nicely, maybe with flowers or pretty napkins. I left a note on each of their plates with an affirmation for the year — my hopes for them that season. “May you make friends who love and respect you.” Or “This year – long division with ease!” Other options: a scripture verse to guide the year, or a favorite quote or poem about growing up, challenges, or surprises.
2. Growth Spurt: Many people have a practice of taking a photo of their children on the first day of school. Why not take it in front of something that can measure their changing height as the grow — say, with the same door frame in the background, or the swingset poles besides them. When they come home from school the first day, lay all the photos out in a row on the coffee table and let them celebrate how much they’ve grown.
3. Dreamboards. This year for back to school I made a collage for each of my girls with my hope for their learning experiences this year (both in and out of school.) I’m hoping that Cate will learn to love reading just a little bit more. (Time to give in and start buying graphic novels.) And my dream for Eden is that she discover ways to challenge her learning (even in the laid-back Danish skole system.) Both girls loved their pictures and we’ve hung them in the entry hall to keep those dreams fresh in our minds. This practice is especially nice because you can do it even if the kids’ first day has already passed
What do you do to celebrate the first day of school. What ritual or practice do you use to mark this rite of passage?