How To Make This Time Memorable – A Guide to Starting JK in a Pandemic

My dearest friend Shikha, who is the owner of @ittybittycreationz and mama to two little ones, and I decided to join forces on this special blog post. Shikha and I both have daughters who are 3.5 years old and are scheduled to start school in September. Our girls are definitely starting school, but they’ll be attending virtually. This decision has definitely left us feeling all sorts of feels. Saying it was difficult is an understatement. Starting school is a memorable time in a child’s life – it’s another milestone to cheer about (and we recognize that this comes from a place of privilege). So, we didn’t want our girls to feel robbed of this moment and decided to make this time as memorable as possible. Our children may (or may not) appreciate this one day! So, to our fellow JK parents who will be virtually attending school this year, here’s our top 5 list to make it as memorable as possible:

  1. Purchase The School Gear

We may not physically be sending our kids to school, but we’re still trying to stick to the school routine. And with routine comes the school essentials. We’ve got the backpack, the lunchbox, the art supplies. This doesn’t have to be over-the-top. But a few key items that relate to a school environment could help bring some newness to the routine come September.  For example, creating a back to school basket including notebooks, crayons, pencils is sure to bring some excitement and it will also help to keep things organized. We definitely foresee this bringing on some excitement for the little ones! We decided to personalize the items as well – it helps us mom’s feel like we’re involved in the excitement with labelling items.

2. The First-Day Pictures

This one’s probably our favourite – we’re still going to be those mom’s to take the first-day picture. And why not? This milestone shouldn’t be missed or forgotten. Our little ones change so much in a year. It’ll be fun to do a comparable picture after they’ve completed their first year of JK. We found a great example on Pinterest as to how you can make your own back to school shirts that will serve as a keepsake and become a fun annual tradition as your child grows! You can find the inspiration here:

3. Meal Planning – Snacks & Lunches

If you’re a working parent, like Shikha and I, I’m sure you can relate that time is precious. We have to make a conscious effort to plan as much as we can. We’ve decided that having the kids help us with getting their lunches and snacks ready the night before will be helpful for the following day. This helps our children get used to a routine and hopefully avoiding the dreaded question we hear throughout the day, “Mama, what’s for snack?” This is just another way to not only help our kids, but also parents with enforcing some structure in the day. Bonus: This will also prepare us for the days that the kiddos actually return back to school.

4. Easy Arts & Crafts

This one is a given, but we want to keep the curiosity and creativity within our little ones alive! This might require a bit of preparation beforehand (and lots of Pinterest), but it’ll be important to keep the motor skills moving and developing. From cutting to glueing, to painting and sculpting. And to get them in the habit of doing fun arts & crafts projects, we thought it would be nice to get the kids to try one out to prep them for school. As an example, here’s a pretty simple and inexpensive keepsake that you can create with your child on their first day so that they can still get their first pic on a school bus. You can find the inspiration here:

5. Recess – Outdoor Play

Let’s be real — who remembers recess time at school being the one thing we all would look forward to? From playing four corners to hopscotch. We recognize that outdoor play is so crucial for our little ones and their development. Just like the school schedule, we intend to take our kids to an open park or field (or stick to walks if need be) to encourage outdoor play. Kids need to exert their energy and what better way than to set up some outdoor obstacle courses. Who knows, we might find our love with hopscotch and jump rope again.

6. Social Distancing Visits

We all know that social distancing measures amongst kids these days is heartbreaking. With no school or daycare, being cooped up at home can be tough for our little ones. Although we aren’t sending our kids physically to school, we certainly recognize the importance of social development skills for our little ones. As a suggestion, start the school year right by picking a few of your child’s friends or reach out to new mamas in your child’s class that are comfortable for drive by visits and encourage your little ones to get to know their classmates better. Even a simple “hello” from a distance will help the kids stay connected. Here’s an example of a cute first day of school gift that you could give to welcome child’s friends.

Just a Reminder

To all the mamas and dadas feeling the neverending guilt – please remind yourself (and each other) that we are all doing the best that we can. Not one individual knows what the right answer or solution is. To make the decision of sending our kids to school virtually was not easy. We flip-flopped a million times. And through chatting, we knew that we had to do something special for our kids – and hopefully these ideas/suggestions resonated with all of you! We wanted to keep it as simple as possible. The supplies were purchased from: Walmart, Dollarama, and Michaels and like we stated above, we recognize that not every household has the means of providing for their children. As a way to giveback, Shikha and I are donating “back-to-school” supplies to the Indigenous Early Years Circle of Ottawa & The Ontario Native Women’s Association. We also received donations from members in our respective networks; we’d like to extend a warm thank you to all of them for their generosity in helping us gather items. 

To all the kiddos: we wish you all the fun and endless learning as you start this new journey (or new grade)! You’re all going to flourish and do amazing things!

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