Jennifer Pallian Unsplash
Jennifer Pallian Unsplash

Back to school is sometimes bittersweet. 

Bitter for the kids that get to go back, and sweet for the parents that get to send them. 

The routine of school, homework, and family dinners helps put things back into sync after the late nights, summer trips and swim parties of the school break. School is a welcome end to the long and busy summer. 

When I send my kids back to school, (which I’ve been doing since 1999 and the last one graduates in 2035) I  have some experience in this venture and ideas to make it more fun for everyone. 

I like to have some first day of school traditions for my kids. It helps to strengthen our family, gives them something to look forward to, and something to look back on, a sweet memory.

10 Ideas for First Day of School Traditions

1- First Day of School Cookies

This is a tradition I learned from my mom and I have continued it with my kids. When the kids get home from school, I have a fresh batch of cookies and cold milk ready for them to devour. The plus side of this is we get to sit around the kitchen and they tell me all about their first day of school.  We are both happy,  I call that a win-win!

2- First Day of School Photoshoot 

Let’s face it, kids grow up too fast. Every year I snap a photo of them by the tree in the front yard.  One day they will look back and see how cute they were and how much they have grown. While I look back and long for those sweet innocent faces. 

You could also get a cute chalkboard for them to hold and write their grade and their teacher's name. These are great memories for both of you!

3- School Supply Shopping Personalized

The schools send out a school list of supplies needed for school, so one thing I like to do is let the kids pick out their own items from the list. They can choose a cute notebook or pencil box in whichever color or design they want. This helps them look forward to using these things  as it is a more personalized experience, and also helps them feel like they are prepared for school.

4- Back to School Fashion Show

Let the kids have a fashion show sharing all their new outfits, shoes, and backpacks.  Last year my family had a cousin’s fashion show. So all the cousins got together at their aunt's house and showed off all their new back to school finds. It was such a fun way to celebrate the upcoming school year.

5 - First Day of School Breakfast

What is better than a yummy breakfast? The favorites at our house are french toast or pancakes. Honestly, as a teenager, this is the only way I could be pried out of bed in the morning. This is also a great way to connect before they head out for school.  Heck, it may go so well that you may even want to try it more often than just the first day.

6- Lunchbox Love Notes

This is a sweet surprise, a  little note from mom or dad in their lunchbox. I used to write a little note on the napkin. You could also put a little post-it note in the lunchbox or write on the ziplock bag of their snack or sandwich. Just let your kids know that you are thinking of them. (Not to mention how nice it is to have the house to yourself all day.)

Here are a few more ideas I have heard of that are worth trying!

7 - After School Ice Cream Celebration

After the kids get home from school on their first day, load them up in the car and take them out for an ice cream treat. They can share about their first day and you both enjoy the time together. This will be sure to become a special tradition they look forward to each year.

8  - Bucket List

Bucket lists are great goal setting tools for kids and adults alike. Creating one before the school year helps them figure out what things they would like to work on this school year.

You can get creative and make a board with pictures, or a list with check marks. It could be as simple as a child in Kindergarten wanting to learn their sight words, or a highschooler passing their SATs.

Bucket lists help by focusing on where they want to go and what they want to accomplish and moves them towards those goals.

9 - Back to School Interview

This is a fun idea so the kids can look back on how they thought, looked and even how they sounded as they moved through childhood. Record you interviewing your child for the upcoming school year.

A few questions to think about, “What are you looking forward to this year?” or even “Who is your best friend?” or “What is your favorite thing to do or eat?”  Then you will both see how your child's interests and goals evolve as they grow.

10 -  Back to School Countdown

Anyone with little kids knows that they ask a lot of questions.

So for back to school a great idea is  a countdown. For parents of  younger kids make a paper ring representing each day, and they can tear one off each day or even mark the days off of the calendar.

I hope you can use some of these ideas to help make this next school year a great one for your kids. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to fit your family’s preferences. Remember, they grow up so fast, enjoy the little moments.

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