The first day of school is a milestone and a perfect opportunity to meaningfully connect with your child. Between packing backpacks and getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour (or maybe after doing all of that), find a moment to write your child a card for the first day of school. Slip it in her lunchbox or on top of the books in her backpack for her to discover at some point during the day.
Use the card as an opportunity to inspire your child to practice empathy on the first day and throughout the year. Encourage your child to notice her emotions on the first day of school. ("Are you having fun?" "Do you feel a little bit nervous?"), and use that moment as a chance to nudge her to think about others' emotions ("Do you think your teacher is nervous? It's his first day of school, too!") Help your child approach relationships and communication in a new way with some conversation starters ("Do you think your teacher had a fun summer vacation? Ask him!" "Are there new students in your class? What do you think it feels like to be new? Introduce yourself to the new students to make them feel welcome.")
Not sure how to start it off? We started the letter for you, taking inspiration from one of our favorite quotations: "Empathy is the only human superpower-it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies, transcend differences, and provoke political and social change." We hope it inspires you, too.
We want to hear from you! Share a back-to-school memory--whether yours or your child's--in the comments section below.
(1) Fold along the vertical line, making sure the images are facing out.
(2) Hold the sheet so that panels 1 and 4 are facing you. Fold along the dotted line so that you see only panel 1.
(3) The card is complete. Write away!
Having problems? Ask us for help at empathy [at] ashoka [dot] org.