Just because our son’s first day of school was online, it didn’t mean we couldn’t make it special. Yes, back to school this year may have looked different, but still, there was a lot to celebrate! We survived several months of quarantine and our son, Rex Tyler, was starting a new grade. This year, he was going to meet his new classmates and teachers as a grade eight student at Philippine School Doha.
Before our son’s first day of virtual classes, we had an end-of-summer countdown. This helped him wrap his head around the upcoming changes in schedule and daily life. We printed a simple calendar and had him write down memories from his summer in quarantine and the things he was grateful for.
We prepared his back-to-school materials. This involved purchasing some new school supplies as well as reusing some of his old ones. This allowed us to save a bit and minimise our expenses!
We set up his study area with a desk and chair and organised the books, notebooks, and other supplies in his cabinets. We also got him a new laptop and accessories, including a printer.
We started our son’s first day with a special back-to-school breakfast—a special thanks to my wife, Carol, who prepared it for us!
And as we do every year, we took some photos. Photos are already a part of our back-to-school routine, and there’s no reason for us to not keep taking and posting them on our social media accounts!
Another thing we decided to start this year is leaving notes of encouragement on his desk. This is something that we might do more often while he learns from home.
We also encouraged our son to start a journal so that he could record his daily experiences. It will also help him reflect on what he’s learnt, as well as his feelings. It might even serve as an artefact—something he can use to look back on this unique year.
Our son was elated that day one was over! We then celebrated with treats—the ice cream was ready! And we were all excited to talk about his day.
After that, we allowed him to have a Zoom after-school play date with his friends. This gave him space to talk about his day with friends, and plus, a Minecraft challenge was probably a good idea at that point.
Finally, we set some goals together for the school year. My wife and I sat down with him and talked about the things that he needed to achieve this year. We asked him to make a list of all his interests so that we could revisit it at the end of the school year and see how much he’s learnt.
Truly, the beginning of this school year was very stressful. However, with blessings and wisdom from above, this new way of learning can be a great opportunity to start new practices, traditions, and gain a new mindset. Thus, there are reasons to celebrate life despite this pandemic!