Back-to-School Traditions

Most of you know how I feel about Ace leaving me for school. It’s no secret. I hate the thought and burst into tears every time I think about it. I have had an ache in my heart for the last 2 weeks and the closer the first day becomes, the stronger the ache. Where did the summer go? It feels like he just graduated from preschool and was accepted into Harvard a few short weeks ago!


I am in constant disbelief that Ace will be starting Kindergarten in just a few short weeks, I am determined to make this time in his life fun and memorable. Our family is big on traditions and so I’ve been trying to find some back-to-school traditions that will be fun for our family.


I’ve listed several ideas that I plan on doing to make this special time in mine and my child’s life as memorable and stress-free as possible.


Before School Starts:

  • Visit your child’s school. Let him get familiar with his classroom, the campus and if possible his teacher and administrators.
  • Establish both a morning and nighttime routine including prayers, a reasonable bedtime, a bedtime story and a goodnight kiss.
  • Practice things like using the bathroom and washing hands properly.
  • Role play how to ask to use the bathroom, approach a new friend or inform the teacher of a problem.
  • Ask him if he has any fears, questions or concerns.
  • Go for a special treat, like ice cream cones the night before school starts.
  • Have a Back to School Night Party. We’ll snuggle close and read books like The Kissing Hand, Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come, The Night Before Kindergarten, and A Place Called Kindergarten. We’ll also eat yummy treats like pencils (carrot slices with pink marshmallows stuck to the top with toothpicks), pencil shavings (homemade granola), school-themed cupcakes, etc. We’ll also cover some basic safety guidelines.
  • Help less fortunate children prepare for school. We’ll be sending these IOCC School Kits this year!

On the First Day of School:

  • Make a special First Day of School breakfast and/or dinner. Why not try these Butterfly Breakfasts? Or pancakes flat like a piece of paper with 3 holes poked along the edge?I’ll be making this awesome School Bus Cake on the first day. Family Fun provides the video and recipe for this sweet treat.
  • Send an apple for the teacher. Perhaps in the form of apple-scented antibacterial wash or lotion.
  • Send them off with something special. Last year for the first two months of preschool Ace took his Gaki, bka Curious George, in his backpack. Although it could be anything a pet rock (yes we have one of those). I also printed out wallet-sized photos of some of his favorite times and attached them to a clip to keep on his backpack.

  • Take a photo before they leave for school, getting on the bus or entering the classroom. I took one last year of him walking away and it is my favorite. Walgreens also has a special offer for Back-to-School; 30 4×6’s for $3.oo.

Once school starts:

  • Make fun lunches. I *love* bento box lunches. Kraft Foods also has some great lunchbox ideas.I also like to make things easier for me, so I pack his lunch the night before. I also put baskets with his lunch snacks on the top shelf of the fridge so that all I have to do is toss them in.

  • Stop by once a week or every other week to have lunch with your child. Bring fun treats for him and his friends too.
  • Get involved in field trips and other programs. Schools love parents who volunteer!
  • Get in the habit of talking to your child about his day. It’s soo important to know what’s going on both in their classroom and their minds.
  • Post often in his School Memory Book, making sure to add a picture of his first day.

Establish Routines for us both:

  • Make sure his clothes are set out, ironed and ready to go the night before as well. This includes belts, socks and shoes. Homework, permission slips and anything else that needs to go back to school in the morning should be ready and in his backpack the night before too, just to make sure I don’t forget anything if the morning is more chaotic than planned.
  • Establish an after-school routine. Have a snack ready and complete homework assignments at a set time. I prefer right after school so that it is finished and he can play the rest of the day.
  • Reinforce bedtime routine.
  • Get a calendar and keep it up to date on all his school activities and other deadlines.
  • Have a snack waiting when you pick him on a certain day of the week, month, etc.
  • Keep up with my journaling. I think on the first day I’ll take Lucky to the park after I drop him off and journal my little heart out. I know I’ll be a mess and journaling usually helps me through.

While I feel a pierce in my heart every time I think about him leaving me, I will keep those feelings deep inside of me where he cannot see them. I am determined to make this a fun and exciting experience for him that he looks forward to repeating every year! I can cry my eyes out after I drop him off!


What kinds of back to school traditions do you have?

4 thoughts on “Back-to-School Traditions

  1. We're developing our own homeschooling traditions, NEW journals for fun-writing for the girls…but make sure not to get too caught up in the frenzy, still lots of time to have fun…it's summer until Sept 21!!!

  2. Great, great post, Sylvia! You have a lot of really neat ideas in there! I think the role playing exercise would be especially beneficial to a child beginning a brand new experience like kindergarten. I wish I could spend a morning with you in your kitchen observing your creative lunch making techniques! Your sons are so blessed to have you for a mom! : )

  3. I love your ideas, but one word of caution — it might be best to choose just a couple of them… if your son is anything like my daughters (I have 4), too much fun build-up from mom can actually increase the anxiety level. It should be special on the one hand, and yet, totally normal and doable on the other. Good luck!

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