Back To School

These back-to-school traditions are so fun and sweet.
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12 Families Share Their Funny, Sweet, & Silly Back-To-School Traditions

These special touches and family rituals make the first day of school so much more memorable.

From the little extras, like adorable school supplies and cartoon-character backpacks, to the big things (don’t forget to pack that yummy lunch!), thoughtful gestures can make the back-to-school transition so much easier for your family — not to mention, way more fun! Documenting the day makes it all the sweeter, too, whether you dress up your front lawn with signs and balloons for a photo shoot, or just take an extra 30 seconds to snap a selfie with your kiddo before the bus rolls up.

If you’re looking for new ways to make the moment a little more special this year, or want to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the memory bank, take a look inside the lives of these 12 families. They share some personal rituals, international traditions, and unique details to help crystallize the day. Some of these parents are childhood educators themselves, and made first-day-of-school traditions with classrooms full of children for decades. (A school-supply scavenger hunt? Hand over the sign-up sheet!) There’s no shortage of idea gems here to help all your family members make the most of this gone-in-a-flash milestone. Now prep that scrapbook and clear some storage space on your smartphone: It’s time to make some memories.

(Your kids might balk as they get older, but they’ll treasure these sweet moments.)

1

Preparation Is Key

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Amanda and Simon, parents of a soon-to-be seventh-grader and a soon-to-be fifth-grader, focus on preparing for back-to-school time. “The day before school, we lay out all the supplies and double check them against the school supply lists. We include the kids in this process so they can feel excitement about their new things, and feel confident that they have everything they need on day one,” the parents tell Romper. They share that in each of their daughters’ closets, they have hanging shelf organizers so they can choose outfits for each day of the week and avoid any last-minute morning scrambles.

“My husband is in charge of a special breakfast that usually includes bacon as a treat. I hide handwritten notes from both of us in their lunches. Traditionally, my husband and I both take the day off, or work from home on the first day of school. We want to be there to see them off, and hear all about their first day on their return,” Amanda says.

As an added bonus, they use the time before school starts to have some memories documented. “When I asked my girls, they both said the photos in front of the house were their favorite part. With back packs, without packs, together and individually, I hold a full-fledged photoshoot on the front lawn. And when the year is coming to a close, the girls always ask to see their first-day pictures so they can see how much they’ve grown.”

2

A Little Teacher Appreciation

Brian and Angjela, parents to a 10-year-old and 4-year-old, spread the love to their teachers as a tradition. “When I was in elementary school in Albania, we used to bring flowers to the teacher on the first day of school. We try to continue that tradition now by bringing a small bouquet of flowers or a homemade card to the teacher on the first day of school to show our appreciation for the upcoming school year.”

3

More Pictures

“We always take a first-day-of-school picture because I’m so excited for them to start,” Brooke, mom to an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old, tells Romper.

4

Start A Tradition At The School

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Cindy, a mom to two adult kids, shares with Romper that she would always take her kids school supply shopping and watch her daughter request all the things. But as a teacher, Cindy took her traditions to the classroom, too. She taught kindergarten and would have a “treasure hunt” on the first day to help the kids get a little more comfortable.

“I also started a ‘Boo-hoo Breakfast’ in conjuncture with the PTA for the first day of school to help parents not linger and make the goodbyes worse. Parents could drop off their kids and then go to the library where the PTA had coffee and pastries; parents could cry together and commiserate about their kindergartener being left all day, and could also hear about all the things the PTA was doing,” she shares.

5

Time Capsules

Diahanna, mom to a 17-year old and a 16-year-old, tells Romper that their family’s back-to-school tradition included a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes before taking a picture by the mailbox.

But she and her kids also started a tradition in second grade to make a time capsule — “aka a shoebox” — and fill it with their favorite projects, toys, and artwork throughout the year.

6

Mom’s Day Off

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“When my boys were younger, I would always take off from my nursing job on the first day of school. Now, they’re a bit too cool to have Mom wait with them at the bus stop,” Hillary, mom to a 15-year-old and 13-year old, tells Romper.

7

Pose Kids In T-Shirts With Their Future Class On It

“Starting in Kindergarten, we take pictures of the kids in the same large t-shirt that says Class of 2031 and Class of 2033. It’s sad to think one day they’ll actually fit into it, but it’s exciting because it marks the start of a new year,” Irene, mom to an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 4-year-old, tells Romper.

8

Plan Some One-On-One Time & Ice Cream

“The week before school, I let the kids each pick an activity for some one-on-one time with me,” Kim, mom to a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old, tells Romper. “This year, my 7-year-old chose mini golf, and my 3-year-old chose the movies. Then on the first day of school I take a picture with their first-day-of-school sign, which includes their grade level, teacher, some of their favorite things, and what they want to be when they grow up. Then we take a picture with the same information on their last day of school to see how they’ve grown over the year. And after school on the first day, we usually go out for ice cream.”

9

Make Schultuetes

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“Here in Germany, we give Schultüte to kids on the first day of first grade. It’s a cone filled with learning goodies, school supplies, and sweets,” says Mary, mom to three adult children. “Parents can make them for their children, and they’re also found in all school-supply stores. Now all the kids want Frozen or superhero ones! And of course, we’d take the family photo on the first day. It’s a big deal!”

10

More Chocolate Chip Pancakes

“My oldest daughter suggested we make chocolate chip pancakes for the first day of school. So it seems she’s angling to make that a new tradition, and I’m OK with that,” says Michelle, mom to a 5-year-old and a 21-month-old.

11

Handmade First Day Of School Signs

“My kids make their own first-day-of-school signs every year so we can take photos with them,” says Molly, mom to a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old. “They have misspellings and adorable pictures — I love them! And my husband helps them each meticulously pick out their first-day outfits. Oh, and my daughter reminded me that we also give hugs when they leave for school.”

12

Make Goals For The Year

Tara, mom to a 5-year-old, says she’s ready to start some traditions this year, including the classic chalkboard and “first day of school” picture. “I would also like to set some realistic goals to strive for throughout the year; one personal, and one academic. These kids have had so much put on them in the past year, so I would like to do a ‘personal’ goal to show that social emotional learning is important, too. An academic goal can be ‘I want to be able to count to 100 this year.’ And a personal goal can be, ‘I will make it through the day without crying,’ or ‘I will make three new friends this year,’” she says.