7 Back to School Traditions: Getting Your Kids Excited

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August 11, 2014

Some schools near us started back to school today. Thank goodness my kids have a few more weeks of summer vacation, but it reminds me that we need to start getting ready. I’ve said before that our family has an insane number of traditions, and many of them revolve around school starting again. I thought about pretending I gathered ideas from other moms. But I’ll confess, this idea article comes directly from what we do in our family!


Pretty much every family takes pictures on the first day of school, but it bears mentioning because there are a variety of traditions you can implement. Some moms take a picture on the first day – and another in the same spot on the last day. Some have their child hold a cute sign displaying grade level or interests. Some get a shot of their children with their teachers. We like to take a picture with the kids’ best friends before school starts.

Fashion Show

Somehow our new school outfits morphed into a back to school fashion show. My kids try on their new clothes and come out to the rest of the family while we ooh and ahh. This event has become a highlight for both my children, even my son!

Backpack Decorating

The line of bags lining school halls can get monotonous. So many look the same, have similar characters, or are just plain boring. Not to mention expensive! To avoid blah bags, the kids and I work together at the end of summer to decorate their backpacks with unique designs or pictures. Some years we use paint, other years we add different shaped buttons or patches. I’ll be honest, last year while attempting to hand paint Hot Wheels, I wondered why we continue this tradition! This year will involve patches over painting.

D pack  char pack

Lunch Surprises

A few years ago, my daughter became unusually nervous about going into first grade. That year I sent a note and a tiny toy animal in her lunch to give her a boost and a friend half-way through the day. Naturally, it became an annual thing. The kids each get a note and a special pick me up like a cool pencil topper or a smiling figurine in their lunch. These generally come from the Dollar Store, so it doesn’t break the bank.

After-School Cookies

This tradition passed down from my childhood. My step-mom always made cookies on the first day of school so that the house would smell like fresh warm baking when we got home. It doesn’t have to be sweets though. My kids love the smell of their favorite soup or popcorn, too.

Special Book

I’m a mean mom. I won’t let my daughter read all the Harry Potter books at once. I want her to grow up with it so that she gets the most out of each book. So, I made her a deal. We read a Harry Potter at the beginning of every school year since each one begins with him going back to Hogwarts. If you can find a special book that would excite your kids, you’ll hear things like a squeal and a happy shout, “It’s almost school time! That means Harry Potter!”


A lot of sports teams choose warm-up songs to get them pumped up. So, I figured we should begin our days the same way, motivated and positive, and make a special playlist every year. Each morning starts to those tunes. All of them are up-beat to put us in a good mood. Last year, when my son felt nervous about answering questions in class, I added Sara Barellies’ “Brave” in order to encourage him to take risks. He still calls it “his song.”

I’m certainly not suggesting you take on all of these traditions for your own families! It can be a lot of work. However, having fun things to look forward to helps smooth kids’ transition from a time to rest to a time to work.

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