For millions of kids around the country, September traditionally marks the end of one of the most beloved traditions of childhood, summer vacation, and begins a new year – with new teachers, new desks, new lockers, and perhaps even new friends. It could be invigorating or traumatic, short or long, but there was no mistaking its significance – another year older and soon to be wiser. That’s right, we’re talking about the first day of school.
In preparation for this special day, you first had to engage in another childhood ritual – back-to-school shopping, both for clothing and supplies. Some kids loved this part, others loathed it, and it probably depended on how much choice you had in the matter. If you got to pick out your clothes, you probably enjoyed it. If mom made the fashion choices for you, perhaps not so much. Dressing rooms, anyone? If you were lucky, however, you might just have a shiny new Muppets or Holly Hobbie lunchbox, maybe even a Trapper Keeper or Pee Chee folder to show off to your future friends – proving on day one just how cool you really were.
When the big day arrived, you sat and ate your breakfast, your head swimming with questions. Would your homeroom teacher be someone you could deal with for the next 9 months? Was that math teacher you had been assigned to really as evil as your sibling described, or were they just trying to scare you? Who would you know in your classes? Would your locker be conveniently located, or in some isolated nook of the school, far removed from every single class? And if it was your first day at a new school, there were hundreds of other questions racing through your brain while you ate your Cheerios. If only we all had this friendly advice from Kermit the Frog to see us through:
Of course, all of these questions would be resolved soon enough, and by the end of the day, you usually were assured that everything wouldn’t be as bad as you anticipated. Finding out that a bunch of friends were in one of your classes could make all the difference in the world. And by the end of the year, you might even miss a bunch of new friends that, at the beginning of the school year, you barely even knew. Still, no matter how many times you endured the first day of school in your formative years, each new year brought a shiny new set of jitters.
Over at Sesame Street, here’s a clip of another popular character recounting (sorry) their first day fears:
As we reflect upon this memorable day, we invite you to think back to your own first days of school and share with us what you remember most – your fears and your triumphs and your surprises. Tell us all about the first day of school in our comments section as we pay tribute to these treasured milestones of childhood.