Back-to-School Project for Long-Distance Aunties
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Libby Gray
Several years ago, I was a long-distance aunt and wanted to find a way to encourage my school age nieces and nephews as they started the fall back-to-school rush. I thought about sending a care package with pens, pencils, and notebooks but realized that they probably already had everything they needed. Besides, my sister had informed me that school teachers now provided a mile-long list of very specific supplies needed, so I was likely to strike out by buying Bic pens instead of Paper-mate.
I came up with a simple idea, which turned out to become an annual tradition. I created a back-to-school newsletter named: "The Gray Herald." I Googled study tips and poems about fall but also included a couple of personal stories from mine and my siblings' school experiences. Page two featured a back-to-school word search and an article on our fun summer family vacation.
This project took a couple of evenings, but it was well worth the time and made me feel a little closer to my nieces and nephews as they started school. The best part was putting the newsletters into separate envelopes for each child – even if they were part of the same family – and dropping them in the mailbox at work. Remember the days when it was so exciting to get a piece of personal mail? Most kids today don't have that experience at all.
Want to create something similar for the children in your life this fall? Here are a few helpful hints:
1. Don't think you have to write a Pulitzer Prize winning piece to put something together. Use the internet to find tips, puzzles, poems, etc. Just make sure you cite your sources, and include a "Letter from the Editor" from you to make your publication more personal.
2. Consider your nieces' and nephews' interests. If one is into swimming or one is a math whiz, think about how you can include specific articles or stories to which they can relate in your newsletter.
3. Use photos. If you have any old school photos of you or your siblings, use them...especially if they are particularly awful. Your nieces and nephews will love seeing the styles (or lack thereof) from the decade when their aunt and parents were in school.
4. Don't ignore the tough stuff. Find out from parents if there is bullying or other issues of concern at school. If so, include an informative piece on those topics. This may allow you to be perceived as their ConfidAunt at a later date if difficult issues arise.
5. Have fun. Interview grandparents, include jokes about school, or tell embarrassing stories about your school days. I'll never forget walking around the first day of kindergarten with a long piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe...and now, my nieces and nephews will never forget it either!
Published: September 18, 2012