child wearing pink backpack holding hands with her father on the way to the first day of schoolMy firstborn is starting kindergarten this fall, and our family is so excited to create new back-to-school traditions! For some traditions we’ll look back on our own growing up years; for others, we’ll start from scratch. 

Take back-to-school shopping, for example (which I loved as a kid!). My parents always let us choose a first-day-of-school outfit and one non-generic school item — I can specifically recall getting a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. Or back-to-school photos — my husband’s family always took photos of each child on the first and final days of each school year. I’m excited for my boys to have memories like this to look back on when they’re older!

Here are 10 traditions we’re considering starting with our family to make our children’s school years special! 

1. Count down to the first day of school

Did you know you can buy do-it-yourself advent calendars for any occasion? You can get a decorating project out of it and make counting down to the new school year a fun activity! 

2. Donating school supplies

If you’re fortunate enough to afford some extra school supplies, it would be great to take your kid on a shopping trip to donate to an organization like Schools on Wheels Massachusetts, your child’s school, or a classroom where additional supplies are needed.

3. Practice the new schedule.

As a doula, I always recommend new moms do a test run of their new schedule when they’re preparing to return to work from maternity leave. The same goes for families transitioning from summer to school year! It’s a good idea to help children get into the swing of the new routine before the first day of school. You can make this fun by adding some kind of reward for being “on time” to wake up, get dressed, etc. 

4. Get a visit from the “first-day-of-school fairy”

The first-day-of-school fairy brings new backpacks, school supplies, and treats to make sure everyone is prepared and fueled for the day ahead! 

5. Enjoy a special breakfast or dinner

This could be the kids’ favorite cereal, a special dinner with the fancy dishes, or pancakes and eggs. If you have enough time in the morning or you have a family of early risers, have the kids help you make this special breakfast! At the dinner hour, get the whole family involved in the prep and fancy table setting.

6. Make a time capsule

A simple printable time capsule questionnaire like the one available on Teaching Mama, completed at the beginning of end of the school year, is a great and simple addition to any family’s activity list. These are so fun to look back on year after year!

7. Do an after-school show and tell

Have your kids show you a piece of art or other work they completed during the day, and give them time to tell you about their favorite and/or least favorite parts of the school day. 

8. Do a special activity as a family at the end of the first week

The first week of school is exciting and exhausting for every member of the family. To celebrate the end of the first week, go bowling or play mini-golf, go out to dinner, or take a a family nature walk and talk through the first week — and look forward to the weeks ahead. 

9. Make vision boards for the new year

Take some old magazines and art supplies to talk through and visualize what your littles want the year to look like. You can do this as a family, or everyone can do their own and share! 

10. Create a back-to-school song playlist

We’re big on listening to music at home, and the right music can get you really excited for the day or task ahead! Create a back-to-school playlist, a get-ready-for-the-school-day playlist, or even a homework playlist!

Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.