Back to school time brings with it a lot of fun traditions – school supply shopping, new outfits, first day pictures, and many more. Last year, we started a new tradition that has quickly become a favorite because of how fun and meaningful it is!
Before the new school year starts, I set aside some time to take each of my school age kids on a one on one date.
It’s become such a special time of connecting and having fun together before the hustle and bustle of the school year starts. My goal is to keep it lighthearted and fun, while also connecting on a deeper level, getting a glimpse as to what’s going on inside their little hearts and minds
I highly recommend giving this tradition a try. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to help get you started…
(Scroll to the end for a free back to school date printable)
#1 It’s okay to keep it simple.
Last year we had more time for our dates, so I was able to take each child out for an activity along with a meal. However, this year we didn’t have as much time, so all we did was go out to eat.
We had just as much fun this year!
In fact, when I asked my four year old what he would like to do for his date, he replied: “Go to a special restaurant… like McDonalds!” So, we did! And his little four year old self had the time of his life eating chicken nuggets, playing on the play place, and getting special attention from mom.
My seven year old wanted to go to a favorite pizza place. He ended the night saying “best day ever!”… all because he got to design his own pizza by choosing the toppings.
Whether it’s going out for an ice cream, taking a walk at a park, going for a picnic, or even going to McDonald’s – the most important thing is being together, not having grand plans.
#2 Be mindful of your child’s age.
My goals for these dates are totally different for my 7 year old than they are for my 4 year old.
With my 7 year old, I wanted to have some deeper conversations. I wanted to encourage him and build him up as we started the school year. However, my 4 year old’s conversations consist mostly of his made up stories and being goofy.
I could expect maybe 2 minutes of a semi-serious conversation with the littler one, but knew that my oldest and I could spend a longer time having a conversation. With the four year old, I was happy to have fun with him, connect, and make him feel special with some rare one on one time.
#3 Take time to warm up before going deeper.
With a child you do want to have a deeper conversation with, don’t just dive in right away. Don’t forget to loosen up first, connect, and have some light hearted fun.
Be silly. Smile, laugh, and enjoy your time together.
When you are ready to transition into deeper conversation, begin with some more lighthearted questions and work your way to the more heartfelt ones.
This year, to help with navigating this, I created an “all about me” interview printable. It’s fun, with light hearted questions, but really helps get the thoughts and words flowing to begin a conversation.
(Access the full printable packet at the bottom of the page.)
#4 Be prepared.
Before going into our date, I knew that I wanted to have an idea of what I was going to say. I wanted to be able to specifically encourage and build up – I didn’t want to wing it!
So, long before the date ever began, I pondered and prayed. I asked for words to say, questions to ask, and a meaningful verse to share.
To help me with my preparation, I created another printable page.
The top two boxes are for my prayers for that child for the year. I want them to both grow in the personal knowledge of God and also personally grow through the power of His Word and Spirit in their lives.
These boxes are meant to be cut out and given to your child. Then, they can hang them on the wall or stick them in their Bible to remember that you are praying for them all year long.
Below the top boxes is a gray area that was for my notes. Here, I wrote down specific strengths that I wanted to encourage my son in and also one thing I wanted to encourage him to grow in. (Plus a spot for any extra notes of things I wanted to cover).
Before I told him my thoughts, I also asked him what he thought his strengths and weaknesses were. Since we had “warmed up” with the interview page, his mind was already turning and he responded with a very insightful answer.
The final aspect is a little bookmark for me. I knew that I didn’t want to have these conversations and then move forward, forgetting they ever happened. I wanted to take a reminder with me through the year. So, on this little bookmark, I made a note of what I said I would be praying for and then I tucked it into my Bible to remind me to actually do that!
#5 Keep it positive.
Deep conversations can get heavy quick. The last thing you want is your child feeling weighed down at the end of your date.
Focusing on our areas of weakness is important, but even us adults get bogged down and discouraged if we focus too negatively in that area.
Making sure to keep a ratio of 3-5 good things to 1 area of improvement can really help. And even more so, approaching those weakness areas in a positive light how great it is to learn and grow helps everyone feel more encouraged.
Get the free printable!
Are you ready to start your own back to school date tradition yet?
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I’d love to hear about how your back to school dates go! If you share on social media, tag @steadfastfamily !