Back to School Party

Getting on the School Bus


Going back to school usually becomes the main event in households this time of year. Finding all the school supplies. Purchasing new clothes. Finding out what still fits from last year. Completing all the registration forms for enrollment. Along with these normal tasks you have the psychological tasks of drying the eyes of fearful preschoolers, convincing the 4th grader that their hair looks just right, persuading teenagers that they'll enjoy being with friends again even though school is "boring", and telling yourself to just be patient, "alone" time will come soon!

One more thing before you settle into your quieter home -  ease the transition back to school. With new teachers, different classrooms, harder lessons, and changing friends there can be tension and uneasiness. Give your kids something to look forward to and plan a back to school party!

No... You say. You just got the kids out of the house, why would you want to invite even more in?

Here are a couple of good reasons to bring chaos back to the house.

1. A party is a good disguise to become reacquainted with your children's friends or any new children that they may be mentioning. As a parent, you are interested in how these children interact and a "heads-up" on possible future problems. Will someone always be left out of the group? Perhaps someone has moved? Have family situations changed?

2. By inviting your child's friends to your home, you have established that your home is open and you like having them there. Children of all ages know when they are welcome. This will continue into the teenage years where keeping the lines of communication open is very important. And, when children are at your home, you know what they are doing.

So now what kind of party should you have?

Sleepovers are fantastic! Well... fun from the kids' viewpoint. If you don't mind losing a few hours of sleep, sleepovers are great for parents too. The key to sleepovers is - having lots of outside activities to make the kids good and tired so they will sleep! Depending on the number invited to the party, you can plan a hike at a local park, a scavenger hunt in the back yard, a game of soccer (watch out for aggressive players), roller blading, or perhaps put up a volleyball or badminton net. If the pool is still open, take the whole gang swimming - water really tires them out.

Have the children make their own meals. For 99% of kids, pizza is the way to go. Use individual pizza pans, or pie tins so each child can make their own "favorite". Make up the pizza dough ahead of time or use refrigerated biscuits to press out for the dough. Prepare the toppings for them to use - pizza sauce, pepperoni, cooked sausage, ham, onions, mushrooms, and for the more adventurous maybe some anchovies, black olives and green peppers. Don't forget the cheese - lots and lots of cheese. (Many young children want a "cheese only" pizza.)

For a quieter project after supper, let the kids decorate cookies. Use a round cutter or choose a shaped set - like marine life, farm life, dress-up and fashion, transportation kit, alphabet set (so they can create their own names). Be sure to have different colors of sanding sugar, sprinkles and icing all ready for them to use. Microwave icing in a squeeze bottle is perfect. Another decoration is to use food decorating pens to write their names on their cookies. Don't have someone accidentally eating Jenny's artistic endeavor!

A fun and delicious project is making chocolate suckers. Older children can handle this project with a few basic instructions. Choose some appropriate molds, maybe a Princess Crown, Puzzle Lolly or Frozen Snowflake. You can even purchase colored confectionery coating in your school colors. Be sure to have all the basics you need like  sucker sticks, chocolate coating and the molds. You will also need a microwave oven, glass bowls for melting the chocolate and access to the refrigerator for cooling. Cellophane bags and colored ribbon will make the chocolate sucker a great treat to take home!

Finally, to make everyone's night enjoyable set some ground rules.

Establish an absolute time for lights out and quiet! Remember, the older the child, the later the time especially for sleepovers! (With teenagers, you do realize that most will get NO SLEEP!)

You may want to designate certain areas of the house as off limits, or better yet, establish where a "kids center" begins and ends. Put all the activities and supplies available in the "kids center" ahead of time so there are no reasons to disrupt other areas of the house. To keep the children happy, make sure there are entertaining games or creative projects available in this center. Poster board, magic markers, board games, puzzles, limited use of the television, and books. You may want to post "mind teasers" on the wall or around the room to get the kids thinking.

If feasible, keep this kids center in a more permanent location. If you want your home to be the place where your children and their friends like to gather, a special area is a must. Plan fun activities that they can do together and special healthy treats for after school study groups or projects.

Whether you have a "sleepover" or are just having the kids over after school be sure to establish ground rules and enforce them. Children need boundaries and actually feel safer if there are set rules. With the feeling of security, everyone has more fun! Parents included!