When Social Media is Full of “First Day of School” Pictures

Depending on where you live, the “First Day of School” might be just around the corner! And you know what that means.

First Day of School Picture Blues

It means that your Facebook and Instagram feeds are going to be full of cute pictures of kids holding printed signs that say “First Day of __ Grade!”

There will be new clothes, new back packs, new hair cuts, new school supplies and lots more!

And if you’re like a lot of homeschool moms I know, somehow those pictures bring up thoughts and feelings we weren’t prepared to face. Here are just a few.

The Tradition

We all desire to have special traditions in our family. Who doesn’t love the idea of taking pictures of our kids at certain regular intervals so that you can look back and compare how they’ve changed and grown? And many families find the first day of school (whether homeschool or traditional) to be a good time to do that.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from taking pictures anytime you want! But maybe your “first-day” happens in January. Or you school year-round, so there isn’t really a “first-day.”

Or your “first-day” is kind of hard to pinpoint because you start gradually and take a couple of weeks to work up to a full routine.

Do you feel like you’re missing out on a holiday everyone else is celebrating? Well, you’re the homeschool mom.

You can choose. If you want to pick a day (or maybe use the day all the school kids in your town start back) and take a picture, nothing’s stopping you.

But if you have a routine that’s working for your family, please don’t change everything up just so you can be in on the “first-day” picture deluge!

Clothes and Supplies

Whenever I see these pictures rolling in, I always feel a little sorry for my kids. I remember the excitement of back-to-school shopping.

First Day of School Picture Blues

New clothes, new shoes, new back pack, trapper keepers, glue, crayons (each labeled individually with my name or initials by my mother) and lots more. The newness and freshness were so exciting!

Again, there’s nothing stopping you from using that time of year (especially with all of the back-to-school sales) to refresh wardrobes and supply cabinets.

But please don’t tell yourself that your kids are missing out on something important if they’re all still wearing their summer clothes (or pajamas!) as you plop down in the living room to kick off the school year with a read aloud and some coloring (with the same old tub of crayons).

There are also perks to not having to put in the time and money to update everything at one time!

If you update the school supplies, that might make for a fun photo op. But perhaps the lack of fresh new outfits makes a picture seem kind of silly.

We’re not all decked out, standing on the front porch ready for the school bus, so what do we really have to memorialize in a photo? You’ve got two options.

First Day of School Picture Blues

You can just celebrate among yourselves that there’s no morning rush and no huge expense of preparing yourselves for the outside world on a particular day.

Or, you can be a little counter-cultural and take a “real-day-in-the-life” picture to share on social media that shows all your kids sprawled on the floor in their summer clothes, bathing suits, or pajamas, enjoying a first day that’s not all that shockingly different from regular life!

A Break for Mom

I think the thing that actually hits me the hardest is the contrast I see in what those “first-day” pictures represent for the schedules of the moms who share them. Sure, it’s a milestone for each of their children. But it also marks the end of summer vacation

Sure, it’s a milestone for each of their children. But it also marks the end of summer vacation when perhaps they had a lot more responsibility for their children on a daily basis.

Sometimes these first-day pictures are accompanied with sentiments like “Kids are off to school, and I’m off to my first yoga class since May!” or “Kids are on the bus; I’m here enjoying a quiet cup of coffee and deciding how to fill my free time!”

First Day of School Picture Blues

There’s just no escaping the fact that “back to school” isn’t really a relief and a break for the homeschool mom. Usually, the workload ramps up, not down, when school is back in session. And so it’s easy to be envious of what you read between the lines in those pictures.

Remember that no matter what educational choices we make for our kiddos, there are pluses and minuses. Nobody posts pictures of kids melting down because they have to get up earlier than usual. Or mom filling out piles of back to school paperwork. Or the grind of getting back into the homework routine after a long day with not a lot of free time. No mom really has an “easy” life.

This Day Isn’t Any Different

Here’s the bottom line, homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a choice. It’s a choice that we make for a wide variety of reasons. And yes, life looks a little different for homeschool families. But then again, we knew that going in, didn’t we?

Those first day of school pictures don’t really change anything. They just bring to the surface issues we may not have considered or may have ignored. Work through it. Talk to a mom who’s been a homeschooler for a while. And remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Trends on social media come and go. Our decision to homeschool has to be based on stronger stuff than that!



  • Becca says:

    We don’t do the first day of school ones but I do have a photographer friend take some back to school type shots in the fall. She’s wearing her school themed bishop dress (because that’s what proper Southers do) and they don’t cost any more than school pictures at the private school she attended for K & 1st grade. Pictures of my kiddos just make me happy. 🙂

    • Love it! And definitely – whatever makes mama happy. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      I was born and raised in the South and don’t know what a bishop dress is.

      • I’m glad someone else said that! I was thinking the same thing. Though I’ve recently been made aware that Virginia is definitely not as “south” as they come. 🙂

      • Shannon says:

        Me too! Born, raised and still living in the South… even further south than Pam and I’ve never heard of it. Ha! Off to Google…

        • Pam Barnhill says:

          Maybe Souther is not a typo for Southerner and means something else? Or maybe it’s smocking. There’s a ton of smocking (and monograms) in the South.

          And Shannon if you get much farther South than me you are in the North again. 😉

  • Rana Kacir says:

    We have a tradition of posting “Not back to school day!” Pictures. While all the public school kids are going back to school we take that day to go on a field trip and enjoy that our favorite places to go are less crowded.

    • Haha! Great idea and what a cool way to celebrate!

    • Michele E. says:

      I love this idea! Looks like we are starting a new tradition!

  • Shannon says:

    I guess I’ve never thought about that before because I would enjoy seeing the pictures! It never bothered me in any way. (I say that in past tense because several years ago we dropped social media- best decision EVER!)

    We always give our kids a little something for the first day of school and have a fun treat or special lunch. And we take pics too! It’s just that our pics usually have kiddos in bare feet and regular (read:non-uniform) clothes 😉 I think homeschool traditions are way more fun and no bittersweet moments for this mama because of having to drop off the kiddos at a b&m school! I have the joy and privilege of watching them learn and grow- wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  • Adrienne says:

    We do take a photo, under a tree in out front yard. We also have an awesome home school support group we are members in. Each year in the public schools first day, there is a field trip planned to the beach for homeschool families ! It marks the beginning of a new semester, but also the time of year when we can enjoy less crowded public places. This routine and tradition are important , but make sure your creating them not just following the herd.

    • Great point – creating traditions rather than just feeling compelled to do what others do. Yes!

  • Kacie says:

    Our first day of school this year, we went to the art museum. It happens to have large number sculptures outside, so I had them stand next to numbers corresponding with their age, and then grade. Fun times!

    We went back-to-school supply shopping as well, because we still need more paper and pens and crayons and…and…and. My 3yo is in a tape phase right now and she needs to be well-stocked.

    Here’s to a great year for us all!

  • Julie says:

    I needed to read this today. I struggle with all of this and your words were a refreshing source of peace. Thanks!

  • Melanie says:

    Love the photos in this article!
    too funny!

    Funny, but I only noticed ‘back to school’ photos on social media last year. This is only my 3rd year on facebook and I honestly do not know many folks who send their kids to school. We moved to a new area 10 years ago and almost all the friends we’ve made here are homeschoolers. lol

    I couldn’t take a back to school photo if I tried because we don’t have a first or last day of school. We may or may not do book work on any given day, but everyday is for learning and growing.

    • Yes, I completely agree! It’s like every day is the first day of the rest of your learning!

  • Erica says:

    Thank you, I really needed this!! I always have feelings of guilt and anxiety attacks over whether I’m ruining my child by homeschooling, but then I talk to HS kids that graduated and they reaffirm our choice.

    • Erica, *every* mom worries she’s ruining her kids. It isn’t a homeschool-specific thing. But I agree – seasons like this when we notice differences in our choices bring those fears to the surface, don’t they?

  • Katie Arnold says:

    First day of school in my county today and I am having all of these feelings–even tears as I feel the “back to school blues” and we haven’t even started, yet! Homeschooling is so hard, but as my husband sweetly reminded me it’s about reaping and sowing and keeping the big picture in mind! Thank you for the encouragement!

    • I hear ya, friend! And what a great encouragement from your husband. Daddies like that make all the difference in homeschool perseverance, don’t they?

  • Mary says:

    I really appreciate your sentiments. First day of school pictures now actually leave me feeling relieved and thankful — thankful we GET to homeschool and thankful we have this opportunity to be with our children, even though we know it’s not always all roses!

  • Suzanne says:

    Anticipating this week of pictures, I put up a true-to-life back to school pic of my oldest (16 yo) this week. At her desk reading, wearing a cozy flannel shirt, light streaming through the window, with her book, glasses, phone (for a timer) and absentmindedly stirring her bowl of soup. I thought others (family and Public School friends) might like to see what a Home Schooler’s back to school day looks like.
    Then (just because I got carried away) I posted a pic of the blueberry pie my 13 yo dd made to “describe a food” in her writing curriculum. We don’t need to feel left out. We are a part of our own community and should show it off. ?

    • Love this, Suzanne. It is tricky, sometimes, to embrace and celebrate the good (for those of all camps) without accidentally stepping on toes. Sometimes the best approach is just to enjoy what we have and trust that those who love us with enjoy it with us, even if their choices are different!

  • Devra Torres says:

    We here at the St. Michael’s Academy for Wayward Torreses (SMAWT) celebrate the first day of school by decorating white T-shirts. Some of my kids write the subjects they have this year, some draw pictures of Louie the Cat, our mascot, and the little ones color in pictures somebody bigger draws. I get everybody a fresh new set of markers when they’re 97 cents at Walmart. We do a few days of “half-strength” school, which strengthens my reputation as a merciful and humane teacher, and then we get going.

  • >