With the start of the school year imminent upon us, we’re about to see a social media barrage of perfectly coiffed children standing next to chalkboard signs and letter boards announcing their impending first day of a new grade. Last year, I managed a hasty chalkboard in scribbled penmanship with the end of a piece of chalk that I miraculously found five minutes before we were officially late to the first day of preschool. In an effort not to turn that stress-inducing venture into an annual tradition, I’ve collected seven adorable ideas to capture your kid’s first day of school, because they’re only little once!
Interview your child
One especially clever and sentimental Washington dad had the foresight to interview his daughter on the first day of school each year, eventually turning it into a sweet montage in time for her high school graduation. The beauty of this idea is that it didn’t require finding extra time on the morning of the first day of school, because he interviewed her after she had had her first day of school for the year. If your household is anything like ours, there isn’t an extra second to be found before school, especially not on the first day of school. Just make sure to ask about their day while it is still fresh in their mind, so you get clear answers that will edit together well over a decade from now!
Create or buy a personalized sign
Personalized signs make for a sweet way to mark the back-to-school occasion, and you can easily make your own with a little chalkboard or letter board. I happen to have a piece of plywood painted with chalkboard paint that I could dig out at the last minute, but you could easily use a little white board or even a piece of paper or cardboard. Alternatively, you could order a pretty chalkboard sign from a site like Etsy that you can fill in every year.
Ask the same question
One of the most fun things to keep track of as your child grows through school years is how their answers to the same question might change. For instance, every year on the first day of school consider asking your little ones what they want to be when they grow up. You can put the answer on a letter board, or simply buy a little notebook or scrapbook to keep those answers safe until the next year.
Take a photo at the same spot
If you have terrible handwriting or always seem to forget to buy chalk, you could try taking a photo of your kid in the same setting or spot each year. The front door is an obvious and simple choice, but you could also have them stand next to a tree in your front yard — and watch as the tree grows alongside your child over the years.
Send an email to your child
I’d love to think that I could edit video interviews into a sweet montage by the time my child graduates, but if history is any indication, my use of technology will still probably be limited. I do, however, have a way with words, so I like to email my kids a letter on special occasions each year. My kids are too young for email addresses just yet, so I email them to myself and pop them into a folder with their names on them, so that I can forward them or even print them years from now. You could easily make this a back-to-school tradition, and capture your child’s likes and dislikes when they enter the next grade.
Skip the sign and chalk the ground
If you have a reasonably clean driveway or patio, make your kid lie down for a horizontal photo shoot (like this). Your kindergartner will probably agree to participate in this type of commemoration of their first day of school, but how funny will it be when they’re 17 and that’s your annual tradition!?
Snap a pic of their school journey
There’s something so nostalgic about looking back at photos of myself about to board the bright yellow school bus for the first day of a new school year. Whether your kid takes the bus, hops in your minivan, or mounts her scooter to make the journey herself, keep in mind that you and she will probably want to be able to envision her school journey long after she graduates.