The first day of school is always an exciting day even if you’re in an independent study program and do school at home! With new backpacks, folders, pencils, notebooks, curriculum and photos, the first day of school is something to look forward to, even if you wear pj’s all day and do school at your kitchen table.

For families new to homeschool, the first day of school can also be full of anxiety that comes with any new endeavor. As the first day of school draws near, keep in mind that the first day should be a celebration – into a new grade, a new program, a new start! Here are some first day of school activities to start the new school year off right! (Epic Charter School begins September 6th, 2016).

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1. Special Breakfast

Make your child’s favorite breakfast, or better yet, let them pick their favorite restaurant for their special first day of school breakfast!

This tradition came about my daughter’s first year in school. We weren’t able to be in the house for a few hours because it was being sprayed and so we went to her favorite pancake restaurant for french toast and bacon. Eight years later, she still gets excited to pick her spot and orders french toast for a celebratory treat.

2. Back to School Pictures

Don’t let the busyness of the independent study school year get in the way of a time-honored tradition. Be sure to grab a few photos of your child on the first day of school.

Forget the unrealistic faux backgrounds they traditionally use for school pictures, go outside and take some real photos. Hire a photographer for a portrait session in a nice location or take a few yourself. It’s always fun to look back at how they’ve grown over the years and compare each photo. When you look through my collection, you not only can see how my daughter has grown but how much I’ve learned as a photographer since then.

3. ‘About Me’ Interview

In a traditional school setting, the first day of school is typically reserved for students and teachers to get to know one another. In an Independent Study program, you already know each other. Too well actually.

But kids need the opportunity to share about themselves and the practice of presenting in front of people – even if it’s their own family. Plus, it would be fun to video or record their answers and go back and watch/listen to their responses at the end of the year.

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4. Field Trip

Why can’t you go on a field trip on the first day of school? You’re homeschooling, everyone else is back to work and in a traditional school setting. Go out and enjoy the day!

5. Decorate The “Classroom”

Give the kiddos ownership of their learning space by allowing them to decorate their “classroom.” If you don’t have a room dedicated to school, let them decorate their desks or notebooks. Make a welcome back poster and hang it in your living room with some balloons to celebrate a new year!

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6. Textbook Scavenger Hunt

One thing we did the first day of school in a traditional brick and mortar setting was to go through one of our textbooks on a scavenger hunt. We’d have to find certain items such as the table of contents, glossary, various chapters and keywords so that the students would get comfortable on where they could find what they were looking for in the text.

7. Make A Special Dinner

Just like the special breakfast mentioned above, make a special dinner (or go out to a special dinner). Another idea, depending on the child’s age, is to have them help plan, grocery shop and prepare the special meal – making it a life skill educational activity as well!

8. Library Visit

The library can often be an overlooked (and free!) resource full of activities, events and, of course, books! Take a first day of school library visit and explore all that your local library has to offer. Come home with stacks of books you can use to supplement your curriculum. Win-win!

Happy first day of school!