Do our children ever look as grown up as they do when another first day of school rolls around? We realize what shoes don’t fit, what outfits are their favorites, and how much taller our sweet students look when they pose for that iconic first-day photo. Read on for 10 adorable ways to click off the school year.

photo: Ian Burt via Flickr

1. Epic Start. Even the bravest among us can get a little jittery on the first day. Attitude is everything, so put your tyke at ease before the big day with a composition that matches the magnitude. We love what this dad did with a wide-open road. For other larger-than-life inspiration, think of what you can do with a sunrise, a costume, a hiking trail, or an athletic field.

photo: The Little Style File

2. Sky’s the Limit. Take some of that sidewalk chalk the kids have been using all summer and switch things up with a new point-of-view. It will remind your stellar student that the sky really is the limit.

photo: Dandelion Dreams Photography

3. Two Birds, One Sign! Anyone else forget to keep up with that growth chart hanging behind the bedroom door? Use one as a backdrop, and you’ll know exactly how much they’ve grown by the end of the school year. For inspiration, check out how to double-down on the adorable over at Jonesing2Create.

photo: Jennifer Massoni Pardini

4. First Friends. Along with reading and writing, our kids are learning how to make best friends. Get the school year off on the right foot with a group photo for the ages (Sharing the spotlight takes the pressure off, too.).

photo: Angry Julie Monday via Flickr

5. Cool Collage. Putting the first and last days of each school year side-by-side is always fun, and apps like Instagram’s Layout make it easier than ever to take posterity to the next level. Try collaging each first-day snap and eventually capture every school year in one photo (If you want to add text or designs, we heart photo editing apps like PicLab and PicMonkey.)!

photo: Watch Out for the Woestmans

6. One Size Fits All. Class of 2032 may not roll off the tongue today, but it will be here before you know it. This is a fun way to watch them grow while the same t-shirts somehow get smaller and smaller. And check out the genius way Where The Smiles Have Been utilized the real estate on the back to track handprints every year.

photo: Fleet & Family Support Center via Flickr

7. Gear Show. For school kids, September is synonymous with a fresh start. If this is the year for a new backpack, lunch bag, or dynamite duds, give them a chance to showcase the swag in their first-day swagger.

photo: Ryan Scott via Flickr

8. Parents in the Picture. While you watch in awe as the kids mature, you also change from parents of preschoolers to—somehow—soon-to-be grads. As one future mom reminds us, it’s important to document your own evolution along the way. Later, the kids will thank you.

photo: London looks via Flickr

9. After School Special. Hooray! They made it through the first day! Be sure to commemorate that moment, too, along with all its relief and excitement. That feeling of hearing the school bell ring and knowing a fun afternoon awaits captures a special essence of childhood, doesn’t it?

photo: Greg Westfall via Flickr

10. Video Star. Press record and ask the questions you’d usually save for the sign—grade level, favorite things, and the most timeless of inquiries: what they want to be when they grow up. With a live interview, you’ll capture even more—the voice, the gestures, the giddy charm—about this age and time. After all, by next year they’ll have gone and grown up all over again.

What’s your favorite way to capture their first day? Share with us in a Comment below!

— Jennifer Massoni Pardini