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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It’s the ‘little things’ that ease first-day jitters

All I really remember about kindergarten, besides the cute little duck on my “cubby” and coloring in the red, yellow and green circles on a picture of a stoplight, is my mom having my favorite lunch – chicken and rice soup – ready for me day after day when I got home.

Thirteen years later, when I was away at college, the handwritten note from Mom arrived in the mail the day after classes started – a welcome reminder that I always had a home no matter where I was.

It’s a hard act to follow.

Or is it?

Parents have lots of tricks and special things they do that make a big impression when their kids, from preschool to college, head to school each fall. Last year, I met the neighborhood kids at the bus stop after the first day of school with a platter of chocolate chip cookies. And for my daughter’s lunches I found myself carving sandwiches with letter-shaped cookie cutters and sometimes spelling words like “Hi.”

I asked members of The Spokesman-Review’s Parents’ Council to share the little things they do to make going back to school special.

“We plan on making him chocolate chip pancakes his first day (that is what my father used to do for us),” Mikayla Daniels said of her son Ethan’s first adventure to school this year. And, because his dad is often on the road, Ethan got a Spider-Man notebook in which his dad is drawing a picture of his work truck to remind Ethan that his dad is always with him at school, even if he’s not physically present.

“Since this is my daughter’s first year of school (3-year-old preschool), we are trying to make it really fun,” wrote Sheleis Mathis.

“On the first day of school, both my husband and I are taking her and picking her up.

“When we pick her up, we will take her to lunch or a picnic at the park so we can hear about her day. Pretty simple day, really.

“However, our daughter is really excited that Daddy is taking the day off of work to take her to school, pick her up and spend the rest of her day with her.

“That is a great deal for a 3-year-old.”

But even college students appreciate feeling special.

Callie Bendickson said the care packages and simple cards she received in the mail definitely made her college days much easier

For more ways to remind your kids that you are thinking about them, check out the following suggestions.

Lunchbox notes – has printable lunchbox jokes that you can slip into kids’ lunches – search for “lunchbox notes” and you’ll get a link to colorful printouts with simple jokes for young children – offers free printable notes and suggestions for ways to let kids know you’re thinking of them while they’re at school.

Care packages

According to an article on, “College students need support from family, no matter how much they deny it. It is really meaningful to a student when they receive anything in the mail, but especially a care package that was put together to show how much that student is loved and missed by everyone back home.”

To get ideas for what should go in a care package check out, which has practical suggestions for making a care package and for an article titled “Care Package 101: Advice for Parents of College Students.”

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