7 Simple first day of school traditions to kick off the school year
Back-to-school season can be exciting, stressful and downright overwhelming — all at once! In fact, I recently shared a short video about how overwhelmed I felt with the back-to-school to-do list for my kiddos! There are so many things for us moms to do to get ready for the first day of school. But one of the things I don’t want to miss each year is making it a good day for my kiddos. So, we have a few simple first day of school traditions we do each year.
I’m emphasizing the word “simple” here, because not only are simple traditions easier to keep, but the first day of school is exhausting. Nobody wants added stress and pressure — kids or parents! Plus the first day of school tends to bring along a lot of emotions as well, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Honestly, I get back-to-school blues each year as my kids return to school.1. Interview your kids.
OK. I know this sounds a bit weird. But, listen, I’m a journalist by trade and I love interviewing my kids each year a day or two before they start school. I ask them about their favorites (food, books, movies, etc.), what they want to be when they grow up and what they’re most excited about for the new school year. Later on, it’s so fun to go back and see their answers. I video these interviews as well. I also do a little something else with them that you’ll find in tip number four!
And you can make the interview a keepsake as well with a decorative interview page like these I have in the Families with Grace Etsy store.
2. Prayer together for the new year.
Another first day of school tradition just before the first day is praying together about the school year. Our family has prayer time each evening as part of our bedtime routine. So, on the night before the first day of school I pray for the kids and their new school year. I also start praying weeks before on my own that God is with them throughout the school year and for specific concerns I have about the upcoming year for each of them.
3. Let them wear something new.
I always felt special getting to wear new clothes on the first day of school when I was a kid, so I’ve continued the tradition with my own kiddos. It doesn’t have to be an entirely new outfit, but just something new. For example, our school year starts mid-August which is still hot here in the Midwest. So my kids usually wear the shorts or pants they’ve been wearing all summer, but we pair it with a new shirt and new sneakers. (By the time their sneakers have survived summer, they are worn out and need to be replaced anyway!)
4. Turn first day of school photos into a cool “magazine” cover.
Every year I love making a “magazine” cover for my kiddos. I have done this since the year my daughter first started nursery school and have one for each of them for each year. It’s our version of a first day of school sign. I usually share the cover digitally with friends on social media and then print out a copy of it to go in their folder for the school year that I use to organize their school papers.
Along with a photo of the kids that I take in the morning before we leave, I include a lot of the information from their interview in tip one as well as other things like their shoe size and teacher’s name. (Seasoned mom tip: Get everyone up 10 minutes earlier than necessary on the first day of school so you aren’t super rushed through photos!)
I’ve got a template for sale in the Families with Grace store on Etsy if you want to make magazine covers part of your family’s first day of school traditions. Check it out:
5. Send a sweet lunchbox note.
If your kids take their lunch to school, send along a sweet lunchbox note. Honestly, I send notes daily because I really enjoy it. But I know that’s not everyone’s thing. However, I encourage you to send one on the first day to help your kids feel special and have a sweet token from home on their first day back to school.
(Check out these printable Bible verse lunchbox notes for kids and these Scripture cards that would work well for tweens and teens.)
6. Have a special dinner or treat.
When it comes to first day of school traditions, this is not too hard to pull off. Our tradition has been to pick the kids up from school and take them for an early dinner at Fazoli’s, because it is their favorite restaurant. Fazoli’s is pretty quick, which is what we’re looking for. If you’d rather, though, plan to make their favorite dinner at home. Or have a special treat to commemorate the day. I have a cousin whose first day of school tradition involved a cookie cake each year. Go with what your kids will like, but keep it low-key. They’ll be hungry and tired. The biggest goal is to have time together to hear all about their days. For our family, letting someone else do the cooking means we get to have those conversations all together easier. And going out for dinner on a school night is a treat!
(Looking for a super simple homemade treat? Try this easy hack to make a boxed brownie mix so fudgy good or these easy baked sopapillas using flour tortillas!)
7. Plan for a quiet evening.
Everyone is tired on the first day of school, no matter how much you’ve been preparing for it. When my kids were little and just getting into the school groove, we’d start a week ahead of the first day and practice getting up earlier each day and making sure we were ready on time. Now they are older, and we’ve been at this longer. So, we have our school morning system down pretty well. (It also helps that they go to a K-12 school and always have the same start time!)
But no matter what, the first day back is exciting and exhausting. Planning some big celebration that night is just not going to go well. Let them be low-key on their first day back to school. Maybe even plan to watch a movie together!
What are your family’s first day of school traditions?