All across the country, kids are heading back to school. Some school systems have already started school, some will begin this week and others will start the new school year on the day after Labor Day.
In Central Virginia, there are a variety of starting dates for the new school year. Students in Amherst and Bedford counties started school last week.
In Campbell County, kindergarten students begin school today and the rest of the students will begin tomorrow. Kids in Lynchburg City Schools will register on Aug. 20.
No matter when your child's new school year begins, you can help make it a year to remember by making memories with special back to school rituals. Here are some ideas that may become favorite rituals in your family.
Have a party to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Hold your party at home with just the family or invite friends and party at the park or pool.
Indoor parties can be held at the YMCA, skating rink, bowling alley or other fun family-friendly venues. Ask each family to bring enough small prizes for each child and let the kids create their own grab bags.
Always take photos on the first day of school. Whether your child is in kindergarten or high school, you'll always want to remember what she looked like on the first day of school.
If possible, let your child stand beside the same object each year so you can measure her growth. The front door of your house, the kitchen table or your car are good places to pose for the back to school photo.
Take the same photo on the last day of school to measure your child's growth during the year. Some parents make scrapbooks for each school year, taking lots of photos at various school activities and events during the year.
Let your child choose a special outfit for the first day of school. It's exciting to wear new clothes and appropriate to start a new school year with a new outfit.
Always talk about the best part of your child's school day. In some families, there's a ritual of each person sharing the best part of their day at the dinner table. In other families, each person shares the best and worst parts of their day.
Celebrate your child's accomplishments during the school year. Bake cookies for good grades on her report card, celebrate successful tests with a picnic at the park or hold a party when exams are over.
Spend time in your child's classroom. Volunteers are always needed in schools, especially in the younger grades. You will get to know your child's teacher and friends better by volunteering too.
Plan the week's lunches over the weekend. Sit down with the school lunch calendar and decide which days your child wants to buy and which days you'll pack lunches.
Pack lunches the night before to the extent possible. There may be a few items to add in the morning. Your morning will be smoother without multiple lunches to plan and pack.
Let your child lay out her clothes the night before for the next day. This will cut down on the morning rush and you'll know your child is prepared for the new day.
Check backpacks at the door each day. This may not be possible if your child arrives home to a babysitter or nanny before you get home from work. Be sure to check for any papers that require action on your part.
Let your child enjoy an after school snack before she begins her homework. Create a work before play ritual when your child is young and she'll continue the ritual when she's older.
Check your child's homework once she's finished. Review any problem areas together and praise her for doing a good job. If there are items that need to be redone, check the homework a second time.
Create a friend day on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Let your child bring a friend home after school to enjoy time together. Friendships made in school can be nourished outside of school.
Create a Friday night family ritual to celebrate the weekend. Maybe you'll share a pizza night or play board games together. Maybe you'd rather watch a movie. Whatever your ritual, enjoy making memories together.
The new school year is a great time for making memories with special back to school rituals. Your child will enjoy the time together now and cherish the memories for many years.