15 Back-to-School Traditions That Your Kids Will Cherish

Make the transition an exciting one with these fun activities for kids.

The backpack is fresh and new. The crayons, pencils and notebooks are packed and ready to go. The new school year has arrived! With all the excitement and possible anxiety that the first day of school brings, help your children take on the new school year with enthusiasm. Pick a few of these back-to-school traditions to start and then keep repeating each year.

Set up a School Year’s Eve dinner.

No need to stay up until midnight, but toast the new school year the night before with a special “School Year’s Eve” dinner. Whether it’s a favorite homemade meal or a trip to a local restaurant, celebrate as a family with a delicious dinner to make the kids feel special and gear up the excitement. Talk about what everyone is looking forward to in the coming year.

Create a student survey.

Create a series of interview questions for your kids. Ask what some of their current favorites are, what they are hoping to learn and what they want to be when they grow up. The interview questions can be fun to repeat on the last day of school to see how their answers change through the school year, as well as from year to year.

Read a special book the night before.

Ease the back-to-school jitters by reading books about what to expect. Whether your child is going into kindergarten or middle school, there are tons and tons of books specific to grade level.

Host a fashion show.

Let your child walk the home runway by trying on all of the new school clothes they got for the upcoming season! Take it a step further by playing music and setting up a red carpet so your kids can show off.

Give the gift of words.

Gift each child a new book for the new school year. Whether it’s the latest best-selling picture book, a new popular series, or one of your own favorites from childhood, it will be something your kids will remember. Go a step farther and write a note on the interior cover of the book to your little one.

Create a time capsule.

Have your child gather up a few belongings that represent them and are small enough to fit inside a mason jar. Seal the jar, put it in a special place and have your child open it on the last day of school to see how they’ve grown throughout the year.

Write sidewalk cheers.

Break out that sidewalk chalk after the kids have fallen asleep the night before school starts and get creative on your front stairs or sidewalk. Make sweet messages or drawings to help ease any first-day nerves.

Pose in a graduation year shirt.

Ordered an over-sized t-shirt with their graduation year on it. Every year, they can pose in the shirt that eventually starts to fit them a bit better. When they graduate from high school, you can give them a photo album of this annual picture throughout the years.

Host a breakfast of champions.

The first day of school deserves more than cereal and milk. Make a favorite breakfast complete with something that smells delicious to help spring them out of bed. Whip up their favorite muffins and include that for their morning snack to remind them you are rooting for them.

Leave a sweet note.

The first day of school deserves a note of encouragement snuck into the lunchbox. No need to compete with a crazy creative lunch, but include a note or drawing that will help your kiddo get through the day.

Organize a bus stop brunch.

If your child takes the bus to school and your neighborhood has a lot of young families, pair up with other parents to host a bus stop brunch to send them off to school energized for the day. This can be as easy as providing granola bars and juice boxes to every child.

Plan an after-school surprise.

Whether it is taking your child to the park, hosting a play date or going out to eat at their favorite restaurant, let your child finish out their day with something that’s sure to be fun and enjoyable for them.

Host an ice cream sundae party.

Your child (and you) survived the first day of school — that calls for some ice cream! Grab some ice cream cones, bowls and all of the fixings — sprinkles, chocolate syrup, cherries, you name it — because your kids should celebrate a new year with everyone’s favorite dessert.

Donate supplies to those in need. 

Back to school is a good time to talk to your kids about the importance of education, and how many kids do not have access to all of the things that we might take for granted. Consider taking your child to the store to back-to-school shop for a child in need. Simply purchase a backpack and fill it up with an array of items. Chicago Public Schools is always seeking donations of school supplies.

Paint kindness rocks and put them in the school playground.

The first day of school is an appropriate time to talk to your kids about being kind to others. Because bullying is inevitable in schools, initiate an activity, like painting kindness rocks, that will add some positivity to someone’s day when they need it most. Scatter these rocks around the school playground.


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