We’re nearly halfway through summer now. For many kids, this means school is just right around the corner. Some will be sad to say goodbye to day-long adventures with neighborhood playmates and many will dread the thought of having to make new friends and doing homework.

There are certainly tried-and-tested tricks to alleviate your kid’s anxiety. Taking a picture, slipping a sweet note in her bag, and preparing her favorite breakfast are some. But if you’re looking to make the first day extra special, here are other ideas to make her look forward to going back to school.

  • Create a vision board together around the age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Whether your child wants to be a doctor, a dancer, or a detective, displaying images and words that represent her aspirations will keep her focused and motivated. The board can serve as a daily reminder to help her see and believe in her dreams, and that school is key in reaching them.
  • Reminisce about the previous school year. Looking at photos of familiar faces and places will put her at ease. Watching videos of her performing in the school play or kicking a ball around the soccer field will remind her how much fun can be had in school.
  • Do a scavenger hunt. Stash her newly-bought school supplies (and maybe a treat or two) in easy-to-find nooks around the house. Create a treasure map or post rhyming clues to help find her things. If the supplies you bought are particularly colorful or designed with her favorite book character, she’ll be excited to use them in school.
  • Pack an extra apple or another cupcake in her lunchbox, and encourage her to share it. This will surely help her make a new friend!
  • Sign up for a class and make it a first day for yourself. This will allow you to share an experience together and, knowing you can relate, your child will feel comfortable to ask you questions and to share her feelings about her big day. Tip: whether it’s cake-decorating or wilderness survival lessons, sign up for a class you’ll be excited about — your enthusiasm will be infectious!

You see, going back to school doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Making a tradition out of these play-practices will surely make your kid look forward to going back to school year after year!