Back to School Traditions to Start With Your Family

This is it ladies and gents; this is the year where my first baby officially starts school. Sure, Luke will go back to school at the same one he attended for preschool, but this is the first year he’ll be going all day, five days a week. I’ll pack his very own lunch that he’ll eat with his buddies in the cafeteria. He will be at school more hours a day during the week then he’ll be awake at home and this will be our first go at real homework.

I haven’t decided yet if I’m thrilled or terrified.

One thing that I do know for certain that I want to make the beginning of the school year memorable for my kids. I’m looking at this first year of school as a fresh start for new traditions for our family and as a way to add some extra excitement into an already exciting time. In case you’d like to do the same, I’ve put together a short list of ideas for traditions you can start with your own family.

Back to School Traditions to Start with Your Family

1. Create a special celebratory dinner.

I saw this idea on Nie’s blog years ago and the idea has carried with me since then. I adore that she puts together a delicious dinner, complete with the fancy china and crystal goblets for a meal with just her family to celebrate the beginning of the new school year. If fancy dinners aren’t your cup of tea or the thought of using Grandma’s antique dinner ware gives you the chills, try making it special in another way. Let your child pick the menu, buy character paper plates, blow up balloons and tie them on the backs of the chairs. Do something above and beyond the norm to make it memorable.

2. Start their first day off right.

Now I’m not saying to create two celebratory meals for your child (unless you totally want to), but why not make a nicer-than-usual breakfast? Typically have cereal or oatmeal for breakfast like we do? Pancakes are just that much better. If you already make your children a hot breakfast each morning, you’re my hero and keep doing what you’re doing. ūüėČ

3. Create a self-portrait.

One of my favorite activities to do with my new students when I was a teacher was to have each child draw a self-portrait of themselves. I absolutely adored getting to see how they each viewed themselves as they started the school year. I made sure they included a background as its a great way to see what they enjoy doing best or where their favorite place is. Tuck it away in a safe place and have them do it again at the end of the year. The growth and change over the course of the year is awesome.

4. Welcome them home in style!

I know a lot of people have banners that they hang up for kids when they get home from their last day of school, but I think it’d be great to come home to a banner like that on the first day of school. Celebrate the beginning of something, not just the end! And while you’re at it, bake up a home made treat like your child’s favorite cookie or cupcake. I don’t offer up goodies like that to my kidlets on a regular basis so a special occasion like the first day of school is the perfect opportunity to splurge.

5. Hand write a letter to the teacher. Trust me.

Not all traditions need to be about your kids. It’s important to remember to recognize the teacher your child will spending countless hours with over the course of the next nine-ish months. Something as little as a handwritten note introducing yourself and thanking them for the hours they’ve already put into getting ready for the school year can go a long way. It’s the little things that matter, that truly count. Sure, gifts are nice, but words can be so much more touching.

6. Take a picture; it lasts longer.

If you read a blog, any blog, or peruse Pinterest in your spare time, you’re sure to have seen the Back To School Signs that are floating around the internet. They are everywhere. I have some of my hands-down favorites pinned to my Printables board. Check ’em out, print them, and prepare for unending photo cuteness!

There you have it, my top ideas for traditions to embrace this new school year!

I’d love for you to tell me in the comments if you already do some of these suggestions or if you have other yearly back to school traditions that your family makes sure to do each year. I’m always looking for more ideas to kick the year off right!

If you liked this post, you may also like these school related ideas:

How I ALWAYS Get My Kids to School On Time

How I Always Get My Kids to School On Time

A Guide to the BEST Back to School Pictures

A Guide to Taking the Best Back to School Pictures

Linking Here:

Tatertots & Jello * Lil’ Luna * Positively Splendid

Whipperberry * I Heart Naptime

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  1. stefanie says

    Cute Katie!! I love it! Obviously, I love the handwritten note idea. =) Also, if you do want to help contribute to a classroom, consider giving a teacher a giftcard to the website It is an incredible website where a teacher can ask for things they need to further enhance student’s education in the classroom. Teachers spend an incredible amount of their own money on classrooms, and as a parent this website allows you to help both the teacher and your child!

    • says

      As a teacher of ten years I would be so excited about a gift like this, because I would have never thought to do this myself. As an avid donors choose user myself, I can’t think of something more useful. Thank you for the suggestion, I will totally do this with twins that will be starting kinder next year!

  2. Gill says

    Oh, you’ll have to get your hands on one of the Project Life Childhood mini kits now! I just downloaded the digital version of the Mayfield one last night and it’s really nice – lots of school themed journalling and prompt cards. The description of the Mayfield collection says it’s “feminine” but apart from a few cards with pink in them, I think it’s fairly suited to boys and girls (I have one of each, same as you) and I thought it was a bit brighter than the other two collections available. There are cards with things like “handwriting” and “self portrait” which could be used to show the progress from year to year (that was one of the reasons I thought the digital download option was good for this kit as I can print as many of them as I need to cover two kids’ journeys through school!!)

  3. Dana says

    We had a ice cream sundae party the night before the first day of school. Even when my kids went off to college they had ice cream the night before the first day of classes!

  4. Patricia says

    I took a photo of my daughter every year on the first day of school of her leaving. I made a 6×6 album of her school photos and my first day photos for her Grad gift. It was such a wonderful walk down memory lane for me when I made the book. I added sports / dance team photos and wrote about memorable things from that year.

  5. says

    Great ideas! I always call out in the morning to see if I have any “Panthers” in the house (our mascot). I invite all of the neighborhood moms to a Yahoo/Boo-Hoo Breakfast. Then I meet all of the neighborhood kids at the bus stop for cookies! These traditions have been going for a couple of years and we LOVE them!

  6. Cassie S says

    The “Back-to-School Fairy” visits each year. I use a large paper grocery sack and write a note from the fairy using my left hand wishing them a successful year. Inside the bag I put special school supplies and other fun items.

  7. Kristi says

    I send my child to school with an apple for his teachers on the first day. I always enjoyed it as a teacher. Simple but meaningful.

  8. says

    I love all these ideas! Love the sign to welcome them home and the big dinner the night before! We read “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” the night before school each year :)

  9. says

    Awesome ideas! My oldest is going to kindergarten this year too and my middle will be in pre-k, so you have inspired me to cook a celebratory dinner and write the teachers a note! Thanks for linking up with us at Life Inspired!

  10. Lisa J says

    We always take a picture of my son by the front door. I write a record his day from the time he gets up until he goes to bed. I use his classroom schedule for the main portion, so the rest isn’t that hard to capture. I always describe what he wore and what he carried for lunch.

    I also record the temperature; the President; the governor; headlines for international, national, and local news; prices for a gallon of gas, gallon of milk, loaf of bread, and the cost of first class postage stamp; the top TV show; the top movie; the top song.

    We finish his school day with a trip to Sonic for whatever he wants!

  11. Susy says

    I don’t have much of a tradition for the beginning of the school year aside from taking a photo. But I did start a some keepsakes for my son when he started in Pre-K that I plan on doing every year till his highschool graduation! I write him a letter at the end of every school year… about his growth and his interests. And little moments throughout the year that stand out… I also put in some money and seal it away in an envelope. I figure by the time he graduates h.s. hewill have been reminded of memories long gone and have a little generous amount of cash! I also have a limited edition of Dr. Seuss’ “The Places You Will Go” and I ask that all his teachers sign it with a note at the end of the year…. also to be given to him as a graduation gift!


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