Back to School

Back to School

Back to School

It’s very close to back to school for the kiddos already. Seems like summer goes by so quickly. I thought it would be interesting to do some research and see what some of the traditions there are around the world to help students prepare for their first day back.

GERMANY:  In some parts of Germany, the first day of first grade the students receive colored cones filled with candy and school supplies. Folklore is that the tradition is not about cheering up children or treating them, but rather it’s about “making clear that a child’s status is changing.” In Germany, there is no pre-K or Kindergarten, so a child goes directly from preschool programs into twelve or thirteen years of schooling, so the transition is a big one.

INDONESIA: The first day of school in Indonesia serves as a time for students to get to know each other and is meant to help create a community environment. Schools in Indonesia use the first day to split the students into groups to do activities that will help facilitate a community environment. The students are presented with opportunities to get to know their classmates better before school begins and help those in the communities as well.

JAPAN: Most students starting out in Japan receive a backpack, or a randoseru, as a present on their first day of school. Many parents will also get their child a new desk for the home hoping to set them up for academic success by making a space in the house dedicated to their studies. The first day of school in Japan marks a new stage of life and new beginnings so they begin the school year on April 1.

RUSSIA: The first day of school in Russia is also known as Knowledge Day and is a community affair. In some places, the students and parents form a crowd outside of the school, photos are taken, first-year students give bouquets to teachers and white ribbon is strung for decoration and laced in young girls’ hair. Russia also has the tradition of the “first bell” where one of the younger girls is hoisted up onto the shoulders of an older boy who carries her around the line of students as she rings the first bell to mark the start of school.

SAUDI ARABIA: Back to school celebrations can last for days before school begins in Saudi Arabia. The celebrations are held by family and friends which include food and activities to help the students socialize and get to know each other so they will be more comfortable and not so nervous when starting a new school year. The first day of school can be a whole family celebration.

KAZAKHSTAN: In Kazakhstan, it is a tradition for family and friends to gather to send off the child to first grade and there is often a feast involved. At 7 years old, children in Kazakhstan begin their education with a day called Tyl Ashar, or “Initiation into Education.” Often the parents organize a ceremony and cook a large feast to include lamb and sweet desserts. It is also common for the child to memorize and recite to the guests each of his Zhety ata (seven generations of grandfathers) to honor their ancestors.

UNITED STATES: One of the longstanding traditions in the U.S. (and I’m sure in many other countries) is the first day of school photo. It has also become tradition for the student to hold a board with fun facts about them such as their favorite food, favorite subject, etc. so that they can look back and see how they have changed over the years or even just during that year. It was recently pointed out to me that we shouldn’t try to get the perfect photo but one that shows the student’s personality, however scary/funny that may be!

In our house, as well as many others, we like to write a note to put in their backpacks or lunch boxes to remind them that they are loved and how proud we are of them to encourage and reassure them that it’s going to be a great year ahead. Most kids are nervous and anxious about the first day of school and I’ve been told by my grandkids that they love the notes and look forward to them.

The kids also love to go on a school supply shopping spree and look forward to it every year. After they have made their choices, you might want to lay them all out and take a photo of what they picked out each year so that as they grow up, they will get a kick out of seeing how their choices and styles evolved.

Most important is to talk about goals and have the students write them down and put the list where they can see it every day to remind them to stay on track to achieve their goals. Sometimes their goals may change, or they may want to add new ones so the list can be adjusted and even dated with a short explanation from the student to give them a sense of responsibility and desire to reach their goals. Photos can also be added, and steps are achieved to give them a sense of accomplishment as well.

So good luck to all the students and parents/guardians this school year and I hope all your needs are met and your goals are achieved!