I love the end of August. I love how, three or four evenings a week, clouds start piling up and enormous, ferocious thunderstorms break the edges off the hot days. I love that these seasonal storms—Utah's monsoon, since I do live in a desert after all—create a preponderance of twilight rainbows. I love the abundance of zinnias, the fresh face of my just-blooming sunflowers, and the friendly, over-the-fence chats with neighbors that nearly always result in tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and peaches being passed my way.
I love that it brings back-to-school time for my kids.
Yep, in my part of the country, we start school during the last week of August. So my most recent weeks have been filled with back-to-school shopping, fine-tuning schedules, going to meet-the-teacher nights, and talking kids down from their day-before jitters. And even if you're in the sane part of the country (you know...the part that starts school after Labor Day), I'm guessing your days are currently filled with similar tasks.
So! Here's the challenge:
Whenever your kids go back to school, write your journaling about it on the day they go back. If they've already gone back, then I challenge you to write the journaling about it today. Yep, even before you print the photos or plan the layout. Maybe even before you download the photos! Because here's the thing: once the journaling is written down, and all the pertinent details saved somewhere, you'll rest easy knowing you won't forget anything, even if you don't scrap those photos until today's third grader is graduating from high school.
And here are some journaling prompts to get you started. Try writing:
about the preparations. Where did you buy the school supplies? The new clothes? What was back-to-school night like? What were your first impressions of your child's teacher?
a test. This could be a multiple choice, a true/false, or even an essay question. Make the questions relate to different experiences your student had during the day, and make sure to provide an answer key!
the bag contents. What is in your child's backpack? How about in his P.E. bag or her lunch box? Those little details tell some otherwise-forgotten stories.
about the outfit. Why did this particular outfit get chosen over the rest? Why are those the most-perfect-ever shoes? What color of socks are being worn? Is there one small accessory (a belt, a watch, a pair of flip-flops) that made everything just right?
the morning details. What did you do before the kids left to make the morning special? Or, did it all go poorly, full of stress and missing locker combinations and forgotten gym clothes? What kind of breakfast did the kids eat? Who was hard to wake up, and who woke up even before your alarm went off?
a comparison. Write about your first day of whatever grade your child is starting and how it compares to your child's first day. What's different? What hasn't changed?
a chronicle of the before-school jitters. What makes your child anxious or nervous about the first day? How do you try to sooth the anxiety away?
a list of differences from last year. What big (and small!) changes can you see in your child from last year to this? These can be physical differences, but emotional or intellectual ones are good, too.
about your reaction. How do you feel about the upcoming year? How will the kids being at school influence you? Does it make you weepy to see those little back-pack clad bodies getting on the bus, or does it make you excited for them?
your hopes for your student. What do you hope your student will learn? These hopes can be more than just about the scholarly things. What emotional learning do you hope happens? How do these hopes connect to the year at large? What will you do to help the hopes become reality?
your advice. What wise words do you have for your children as they start the year?
a summary of the first week.Who said the journaling only gets to be about the first day? Take a few notes every day after school for the first week, then work them into a cohesive story about the first five days.
with your kids. When they get home from their first day, ask them to write an answer to the question "What did I learn today?" Or, have them take one of the following post-first-day-of-school surveys:
Download First day of school elementary survey (a list of questions for your elementary-school-aged child to answer after the first day)
Download First day of school jr high and high school survey (a list of questions for your junior-high or high-school aged child to answer after the first day)