When my oldest started kindergarten, I wanted to make it special. For lots of reasons really, but especially because my oldest is a celebrator. Celebrates all the things. ALL THE THINGS. It doesn’t have to be fancy, extravagant, or expensive, but he likes to celebrate. We do holidays, and the first day of spring, and the first snow, and whatever else happens to seem important to him at any given time. I wanted to help him celebrate starting kindergarten with some traditions from my family growing up and starting some of our own.
Sometime in late May or early June, we went shopping for a new backpack, Gen Z style: the Pottery Barn website. Why so early you ask? Because that’s when their backpack sale is, and this mama likes to save money. We carefully selected a matching backpack, lunchbox, and thermos in a trusty Thomas the Train print. He subsequently, very patiently, posed for lots of mom-freak-out pictures when said prized items arrived in the mail.
In late July, we went shopping for school supplies at an actual store, because there is just nothing like picking up each folder, pencil box, or blunted pair of scissors to feel which one is right. Of course, this modern kid needed some new-school supplies that were never on any list of mine, like headphones that would work with his school-issued iPad. After selecting *just* the right things (including both pink and red folders which burned my corneas when looking at them together), we checked one more thing off the list.
Next on his list was getting his school haircut, because that boy looooooooves to get his hair cut.
I asked him about choosing a new outfit for the first day, but he just wanted to wear something he already had. (Lucky for me at the time! However, as we get ready for first grade, I’m pretty sure this has changed with his new found love for Target.) We settled on a nice pair of shorts and a polo, with only minimal complaining. Normally, he gets to wear whatever he likes, so he’s pretty good about first day/picture day/special event outfits for me.
His school does something really fun called Kindergarten Camp, where they all get to walk around the school, sit in the cafeteria and hear from their new principal, and go and meet their teacher. It’s especially nice because it’s done in the morning when no other children are there so it isn’t too overwhelming. And because our kinder teacher was basically the greatest ever, she also let each kiddo choose their own cubby and hook. (In case you haven’t gotten to kinder age yet, or it’s been a while and you don’t quite remember, this is a VERY big deal!) He got to help put his supplies away and get a feel for his classroom. This helped our transition be super smooth on the first day. The other really special thing for him was both Mom and Dad took off work, and little brother stayed home with Grandma. If you’re like our family, getting time alone with both parents is pretty special, and it definitely made an impact. (Don’t worry though – Grandma took both boys out for shaved ice afterward sans parents so they got some special time together!)
Because my guy likes to read and does not like not knowing what to expect, I got a new book to read about starting Kindergarten. (We picked this one, but there are tons of good choices out there!) We read it as a family the night before when everyone was already in their jammies. There was probably an extra special tuck-in that night, but honestly, at that point, the emotions were just too high for me to remember.
On the actual FIRST DAY, we surprised him with one of my favorite First Day of School traditions – a Schultüte. In Germany, where I lived and went to school for a year, kids are given Schultütes on their first day to mark the important milestone of starting school, help ease any anxiety a kiddo might be feeling, and celebrate the idea of getting an education. Since I live in Texas, I decided to make my own. (I used this tutorial. I’m not remotely crafty and it came out ok!) Traditionally, families fill the Schultüte with snacks, school supplies, and small gifts or toys. His dad and I had so much fun picking out items that he’d enjoy. We picked a few things like Kinder Eggs, Thomas trains, crazy colored pencils, and a fun t-shirt. Needless to say, he LOVED it.
We took pictures at the house, and again at school. One thing I really appreciate about this group of kids is that they are good about smiling for a million pictures and hugging their parents a zillion times. THANKS FOR THIS, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS. You’re doing your families a solid.
My guy had a great first day, and Mom and Dad did OK too. We got to hear most of the details over dinner, and I’m grateful for that. Most importantly, I’m grateful that he had an amazing year and really developed a love for school.
If you’re approaching kindergarten with your kids and are a little apprehensive, can I just tell you that kinder has been my favorite age so far?! It’s hard to watch them grow up and become independent little people, but it’s also so, so fun. He started reading – really reading – me books while we snuggled in his bed, reading. He learned about fractions. FRACTIONS. He learned all kinds of science stuff, and while some of it was gross, most of it was pretty interesting. I’ll never get over just how many days I’d ask myself “how does he know that?!”
Hang in there mama, and enjoy the ride. Developing “first day things” and little celebrations can make both of your transitions easier.