Back to School Traditions / Tips

It is that time of year. One of my favorite times of the year growing up. Back to school. I remember waiting with great anticipation to see who my teacher would be. I remember shopping for school clothes, and even better for me, shopping for school supplies. Freshly sharpened pencils, lined paper, notebooks, pencil boxes, etc. I still have a total fetish for paper goods and supplies sold in that part of the store. I am drawn to office supplies like a moth to a flame! I remember new shoes. There was always a pair of new shoes. And, there was always that photo taken by the front door with my brother and sister.

My sister is an AMAZING teacher, and even more AMAZING mother. She had a couple of golden nuggets of advice that she shared with me on the subject of kids and school. Here they are for your reading pleasure:

Jenn's Back To School Tips

Arrive bearing gifts. On the 1st day of school - have your child take the teacher a present. This can really help kids get past that hurdle of going to the teacher (they are usually very excited to give the teacher their gift), where instead they might cling to their parents and cry.

Homework stash. Create an organizer bin full of what your child might need for homework. It should be full of glue sticks, markers, crayons, calculators, a pencil sharpener, a dictionary, pencils, scissors, etc. When it is time to start homework, it is so easy to pull it out for homework at the kitchen table and then put it away. [Kids who do well in school do homework out in the open, not hidden away in their rooms].

Homework contract. Ask your child when they want to do homework every day - when they first come home from school, after they have a snack, after they play outside or have quiet time, right before or after dinner. Older kids should sign a contract stating such (no argument in November or April- just "I am sorry, according to our homework contract, homework is done at 5:00 or whenever...)

EVEN if they don't have homework- they should get in the habit of spending an age appropriate amount of time every day doing "homework" (15 minutes to an hour depending on their age). Small kids can practice writing, coloring, reading. Older kids can review notes, work on problems missed on a math quiz, there are great books full of activities at teacher supply stores where they read something and answer questions about it and also free/amazing stuff online by age level. If this habit is established, kids will do much better in school and if they know they have to sit for an hour everyday doing either doing homework or some sort of homework activity dreamed up by their mom- they won't say "I don't have any homework" to you and then do it in their first period class.


I love hearing what is working for other moms and families. So, talk to us! What are your Back To School Traditions? Got any tips you want to share with the rest of the class that work for you in regards to "Back To School" or "school" in general?
I found a really great list of Back To School Traditions on Ali Edwards' blog. If you are looking for some great ideas, it is good place to start.

Here are a few of my favorites from that list:

- We do the 12 days before Kindergarten....they hang their new backpack on their bedroom door and get a little surprise every morning until it is the first day. Most of the days it is a picture book, or supplies that are needed for school.

- Hint to parents [from a teacher]: Baby Wipes, Ziploc Bags (Gallon and Sandwich), and Sticky Address lables are always great supplies to donate to your child's class

- I take a photo of my children on the first day of school, and then again on the last day of school, in the same outfit so that we can celebrate how much they have grown in one year.

- My children are in their 20's now but I'd like to share two Back-2-School traditions we did every year. First was on the evening before school started, we would host on our front lawn a neighborhood YOU-SCREAM-WE-ALL-SCREAM-FOR-ICE-CREAM Back-to-School Social. We supplied the vanilla ice cream/bowls/spoons/napkins and everyone else brought their favorite topping. Easy peasy to throw together but the benefits were a wonderful sense of community and a message to the kids that we all shared the value of education. The second tradition was family oriented. We as a family gathered together before bedtime and talked about the upcoming school year. We had the kids write down their personal goals-one at least, no more than three-that they would like to accomplish in that year. Written on simple 3x5 cards, these personal goals were always confidential and sealed in an envelope only to be opened at the end of the school year. It was followed up by a prayer and blessing. During the teen years there was moaning and groaning about doing this tradition but we did it nonetheless. At the time it seemed to me to be a simple, perhaps naive, idea. However, the impact was realized when our daughter gave a speech in her senior year on how this family tradition helped 'center' her, gave her the importance of goal setting, and initiated a sense of purpose in her academic acheivements. She is now beginning her 2nd year of law school!


  1. I need to remember to read this next year when Emma goes off to school - great suggestions!

  2. On the first day of school, after dinner, we go to a local ice cream place and share a bannana split. There is something about the 4 of us digging into the gigantic bowl of goodness with our spoons that feels like we are in a bubble of happiness. It lends itself to a great conversation about what a special day and how much we believe in our child's education.

  3. One of the things I struggle with the most about my kids being in school now is that I don't know the details of their day. As their mom, I want to know if they were sad, excited, or frustrated. My kids, especially my daughter, isn't very good at recapping her day and she's there for 7 hours. We now have a tradition every afternoon of going over their "highs and lows" of their day. This has helped me to get more information about what she's doing at recess and what boys are chasing her. I want to know absolutely everything, but I'll have to settle for these precious details. This then opens up the conversation for us to have some "girl talk" and start to process through some of the lows, as well as celebrating and thanking God for the highs. Also, I make a point of spending a day in each kids' class each week so I can get to know their teachers and the kids in their classes. This makes all the difference in the world.

  4. My father gives each of my 4 kids a blessing about a week before school. The night before school, I give them a "Mother's Blessing." (Like a father's but from me!) I also wake up early that first day of school to make chocolate chip pancakes. I ALSO do something that I have done since my 1st son started Kindergarten( he'll be a Freshman this year). I have a "Tattoo" marker with a heart on it, and I put the heart on their hand (or up on their arms where a shirt can cover it). This way they can look at it and know I love them! Then...I take their picture by the front door so I can see how much they have grown. After I have gotten them safely to school, I come home and write a letter to them about how much they have learned, changed, and grown in the past year and what my hopes and dreams are for them in the upcoming year. Each of them has an inexpensive spiral notebook with these letters, and they each have a new letter added on the first day of school. My hope is that someday they will read these and treasure them and know how much they were and are loved!!!


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