28 Back to School Traditions to Get Your Kids Excited for School

First day of school

Make Back-to-School Memorable and Fun!

Rituals and traditions make life a little more fun and a little more special! Traditions can also provide comfort and security, teach values, create memories, help ease transitions and change, and more.

For some people, creating family rituals and traditions takes a little more effort and work. I am one of those people. It doesn’t usually come naturally for me, so I’m trying to figure some ways to make back-to-school special and fun for my family.

Pictures are always good! Easy to do and fun to look back on. I like the idea of having a special “last supper of summer break” the night before and then having fresh-baked cookies waiting for them when they get home from that first day. I enjoy yummy traditions and they provide opportunities to sit and talk with each other.

After asking around to friends and family, here are more than 20 great ideas for family back-to-school traditions and first day of school traditions. Keep it as simple or elaborate as you desire!

Back to School Photos

newspaper first day of school pic

1. Newspaper Photo

Take a picture of your child with that day’s newspaper and a sign that says who the teacher is and what they want to be when they grow up.

2. Hands up!

Right outside the front door of your home, take pictures of each child holding fingers up for the number of what grade they are in.

3. Custom Sign

Take a picture of your child holding a small sign (dry erase, paper, or chalkboard) marked with the date and a personal note, such as current favorites or what he wants to be when he grows up. Your child could even include a drawing if they’re extra artistic.

4. Photos Within Photos

I saw this idea on East Coast Mommy Blog and thought it was genius! Take a picture of your child holding up last years back to school photo and as the years go on, each photo will go deeper and deeper.

5. Edit a Photo

You could also take a simple picture of the child and later edit the photo by adding the text that you would like to include.

6. Walking Into School

Along with a more planned out back to school photo, you could also take a picture of your child walking into school for a more candid look.

7. Back to School Shirt

I found this idea of Where The Smiles Have Been and it’s definitely another one of my favorites. Put your child’s Highschool grad year on the front of a large T-shirt and have them wear it for a back to school photo! You can put their handprints on the back of the shirt for each grade too.

With this idea, as your child grows they’ll slowly fit into the once much-to-large shirt and their handprints will slowly get bigger too. Find out how to make your own here.

Note: Whichever back-to-school photo method you choose, try and take the picture in the same spot every year to help showcase the child’s growth and changes over time!

Back to School Eve

frozen insulated lunch box

8. Back to School Fairy

Have the “Back-to-School Fairy” come the night before and leave fun new school supplies or other related items.

9. Special Last Summer Supper

Let each child pick a menu item for a “last supper of summer.” That day before the first day of school can be a bit nerve-wracking so a nice family dinner with their favorite foods is a great way to calm the nerves.

10. Lunch Box Dinner

Did your kids get new lunch boxes for the school year? Let them eat dinner using them!

11. Back to School Scrapbook

Decorate a binder in which they can keep art, grades, and keepsakes from throughout the school year. They will have a hoot looking back on all of their old projects when they’re older.

12. Watch a Movie

You could either let your kids choose their favorite movie to watch or you could set up a back-to-school themed movie. Just make sure to start it early so they get enough rest before the big day!

13. Read a Book

After a big dinner and a movie, the best way to wind down is with a book! You can read them one of their favorites or you can try one of these back-to-school books from Amazon.

First Day of School Traditions

Crayola 16 Count Sidewalk Chalk

14. Celebrate Back to School with a Mom Party!

After you drop the kids off at school that first day, get together with other Moms for breakfast or a treat to celebrate!

15. School-Themed Breakfast

Serve an alphabet-themed breakfast with alphabet-shaped cereal and pancakes made in the shape of each child’s initials.

16. Breakfast of Champions

If you don’t want to go with the school-themed breakfast, serve a breakfast of their dreams. Think donuts, juice, and a variety of their favorites. It is only once a year!

17. After School Cookies

Have warm cookies waiting for them when they get home the first day and take time to chat while eating. If you’re not sure what to ask them, check out these 20 great questions to ask kids after school.

18. Lunchbox Treat

Pack a special lunchbox treat with a note reminding your child that you are thinking of him all day long.

19. First Day of School Questionnaire

Fill out a first day of school interview page with fun questions and answers about the child. You can find some pre-made questionnaires on TeachingMama.org!

20. Surprise Them with a Mini-Party

Decorate your child’s room or another room in the house while the child sleeps so they wake up in the morning to balloons and streamers celebrating the first day of school.

21. Write Messages Outside

Use sidewalk chalk to draw special pictures or messages on the driveway or sidewalk for the kids to see as they walk to school or as they are walking home. You can even try using ice chalk!

More Back-to-School Traditions and First Day of School Ideas

The places you'll go

22. Have a Final Summer Outing

Do a fun family outing or staycation on Labor Day. Go to a water park, picnic, etc. You could also go on a weekend camping trip right before school starts.

23. Host a Back to School Bash!

You can throw an ABC party for which each family is assigned a letter when they RSVP and they bring a treat to share that starts with that letter. Hand out school supplies as party favors. Pool party, pizza party, etc.

24. Give Them a Book

Books are a fantastic back-to-school present. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss is a great one!

25. Fashion Show

Buy new clothes for school and have a fashion show. Make sure to check out my tips for finding the best back to school deals if you want to save a bit of money.

26. Have a Parent-Child Date

Before the chaos of school days begins, have a full day with your kids doing whatever they want. Take them to lunch, go to the park, do something fun!

27. Time Capsule

Create a time capsule with favorite items and photos to open each year and see how much has changed.

28. Scavenger Hunt

Give your kids their school supplies in a fun way – gift wrap them or create a scavenger hunt to find them. You could do this in the morning on the first day of school or the day before.

Super fun back to school traditions

What Are Your Favorite Back to School Traditions?

Everyone has their own set of unique traditions and methods of celebrating, so I’d love to hear yours! Do you have any back-to-school traditions of first day of school traditions you want to share? Leave them in the comments!

In the end, you can only celebrate back to school so many times so make the most of it while it lasts! 

First day of school traditions

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Awesome ways to celebrate back to school

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