Use Your First Day of School Picture to Communicate with your child in a powerful manner

cropped-twt-pic-2018-reduced1.jpg By Thomas W Tramaglini

What goals are you and your children setting for this school year?

This time each year, my social media feeds (Instagram/Facebook) are flooded with pictures of my friends’ children holding signs underscoring that today is the first day of school, highlighting the date and their child’s grade they are beginning.  This fun exercise has become a staple for families (in social media) and I admit that I do enjoy seeing the pictures of my friends’ children each year.

First Day of School Template
Example of what typically blows up my social media feed this time of year.

What I also enjoy is when my friends take and post end of year photos of their kids 10 months later.  Each time, I get to see before and after photos that highlight their child’s amazing growth from the beginning to the end of the school year.

One thing that I wish I would see more often is a picture of children with their parent(s)/family member(s) on the first day and last day of school.  I think parents might have fun having their before and after photos as well – not only do children show growth from the beginning to the end of the year, parent(s)/family member(s) do too!  For instance, you can clearly see that I get more gray hair throughout the year, which is always fun for conversation for your children or friends.

However, as fun as this activity is or could be, opportunity is to be had!

Using the photo activity to focus on goals.

When parents and family members participate in this fun compare and contrast activity, a timely opportunity arises for adults to have a conversation with their children about what goals they have for the school year.



  1. Make your child’s sign! (sample above).
  2. On or before the first day of school, adults should talk to their children about what their goals might be for the year. Whether it be lofty or simple, two or three goals should be set for the end of the school year.  Both students and parents should have goals written on the back of the page.
  3. First Day of School Goals TemplateExample of goals to be written on back of the first day of school year sign.
  4. On the first day of school, take a picture of each child with their sign.
  5. Once the first day of school passes, parent(s)/family member(s) should keep their sign in a special place (umm, which they remember) for the end of the year. (Note: If students or parents/family members want to look at their goals throughout the year, a good place to hang the sign is on the refrigerator)
  6. At the end of the year, parent(s)/family member(s) should take out their signs from the beginning of the year and revisit the goal to reflect on whether the goals were or were not accomplished. Again, this is a great opportunity for parent(s)/family member(s) to have a conversation with their children which is reflective.  Start thinking about goals for next year too.
  7. Enjoy the summer break! For those of you who didn’t catch my recent blog on the Abyss of Summer Reading and Work, you an find it here:

The Power of Goal Setting.

One of the reasons that I wrote about this topic is because in over 20 years as an educator, I have found more and more that many parents and family members do not have conversations with their children about their individual or shared goals.  The power of building and sustaining relationships is a critical 21st century skill that will always have a place in both families and the workplace.  Such conversations between parent(s)/family member(s) and children build both better relationships and understanding of not only what each other wants and what supports are needed, it opens the door for better overall communication and reflection.

This activity is only one way in which parent(s)/family member(s) can have non-threatening, eye-opening conversations about what each other wants for the school year.  Such discussion and conversation can have powerful results because parent(s)/family member(s) can not only better understand their children, but build a successful bridge to address issues that their child might need, or want.

Follow me on Twitter: @TomTramaglini


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