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Lazy summer days are coming to an end for most (if not already ended) and backpacks are being stuffed with supplies. Back to school is an exciting time for kids (and moms) and at our house we try and make it something to look forward to, and ease the fears and insecurities that lie just below the surface.
One of our favorite traditions this time of year is our special back-to-school dinner. We hold it the night before the first day of school. (However, it might work better for you on the first day or even two weeks later.) Here are three easy steps to make this dinner memorable for your family.
Let the kids pick the menu. Their selections would never make my list of “special dinner options” but it’s special to them because they chose it. With multiple kids, you might need to break it out and let one choose the main dish and another choose the dessert. This has made for some interesting dinner combinations at our house, but they all walk away happy. And yes, it usually includes some sort of Jello – kids are funny that way! We pull out the “fancy cups” as my kids refer to them as and we always make sure to have sparkling cider.
Chances are you won’t have to spend a dime on decor. Open up the office drawers and use the kids school supplies before they take them the first day. Throw a fun tablecloth (or use wrapping paper like I did) on the table.
Use a roll of paper to create a runner they can color and write on during dinner.
We used clipboards for placemats and clips to hold the name tags.
I scoured through the closet and found ABC and math flashcards which worked great.
You can make a banner out of an old book – tear out a couple pages and use permanent marker or cut out letters that you print from the printer.
Grab some books from your bookshelf and you’ve got a festive table.
Our dinner serves an important purpose; we introduce our family theme for the school year and go over important information. The theme can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It could be a quote, a scripture or a word. Last year our word was “Gratitude” and we had a printed scripture in our kitchen all year, “In every thing give thanks.” My husband and I really think about something our family could work on to serve as our theme. This year we landed on “Be Kind and Stand Up”.
We always want our children to be kind to others, but more importantly we wanted to instill within them the drive to stand up for those that struggle to stand on their own. We discussed ways to stand up and opportunities we could work on. We’ll spend one day a month during a family night over the school year to reiterate different points of the theme.
The back-to-school dinner is also a great time to go over important family/safety information. Where do you go if you get off the bus and no one is home? Who lives close you can call on for help? Do you know the phone number? How do you handle someone mean at school? We always open it up for questions from our kids and sometimes it’s comical of the worse case scenarios they want you to walk through with them.
It was also that night I realized I had failed as a parent when our new kindergarten boy didn’t know the phone number! Whoops! That’s why this dinner is quite useful. For some of the very important information, you can laminate a small card (with important phone numbers and the child’s address) and put it in the front pocket of the backpack.
In the end, you can toast to a new, exciting school year and send them to their beds dreaming of pencils and lunch boxes. It will be a dinner they won’t soon forget.
See more of my adventures and projects at www.lifewithfingerprints.com