How to best capture the grandkids’ first week of school

Two kids hand-in-hand on their way to school.
Photo by unguryanu/Shutterstock

It’s back-to-school time, and while, as an adult, you may approach this day with a sigh of relief, you’ll also probably look back on it in years to come and ask yourself, “Where did the time go?”

If you want to remember your grandkids’ first week of school forever, getting the perfect photo will definitely help. These first few days are special moments for them, and ones they may want to look back on. We’ve put together a few tips that will help you make the first days of school into an event—and ones worthy of capturing on camera.

Get dressed up

Choosing outfits for the first week of school is a vital part of the September ritual. You can probably remember from your own school days the need to find just the right outfit to help you get started off on the right foot. If you haven’t already, go back-to-school shopping and let the grandkids pick an outfit that lets them express themselves. You may feel the urge to dress them in a picturesque outfit or fancy them up, but they’ll have a much better experience (and better memories) if you let them pick their own outfit.

Walk the kids to school

The trip to school is the one part of the day where you can stay with the kids from beginning to end—so make it count. If you live close enough, walk to school together. It’s a chance to talk about the upcoming school year, appreciate the onset of fall, and get a few photos. If you can’t all walk to school together, at least arrive at school a little early so you can go for a stroll around the schoolyard. The kids will appreciate the chance to get familiar with their new surroundings, and it makes a great photo op.

Get your camera set for action

Kids tend to be a little hyper, and the first day of school only increases that. So don’t expect them to sit still and pose for too long. Instead, get your camera settings prepared for action shots. Need a little help? We have a video to help you get your shutter speed just right. You’ll end up with crisp photos no matter how much they decide to zoom around.

Think ahead

Give the kids something to look back on in later years by taking a photo that also acts as a time capsule. Get a big piece of paper or a chalkboard, and write down a bit about who your grandchild is now: their age, their favourite food, their dream job, their hobbies. Take a picture of them with this little “personality profile,” and hold onto it. It will be a great thing to pull out again one day at their graduation. Instead of storing your photos on your camera’s memory card or computer and running the risk of losing everything, make sure to print your favourites out for safekeeping.

Stay in the moment

Getting photos of the first days of school is pretty important for your family album, but being present enough to enjoy the experience is important for your family. Take advantage of photo ops, but also remember to spend time together as a family. Your grandchild might be nervous about their first day and coming week, and which case, you may need to spend some time talking about it. That human connection always comes before a photo.

Don’t linger too long

As much as you may want to be around for the magical first-day moments, the first day of school is a rite of passage that kids have to experience on their own. Once you’ve taken the photos, help them find where they need to go, and be reassured that they’re ready for the task at hand, it’s time to get out of there and go back to the world of adulthood. It can be hard to let go, but the first day of school is something every child needs to face on their own. Just be ready to welcome them back home again at the end of a long, exhilarating day—possibly with a plate of home-baked cookies.

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