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Back-to-school traditions

Back-to-School Traditions: Tried and True or New to You

These last dog days of summer are upon us, and for many families that means back-to-school! Along with the usual flurry of back-to-school shopping, a lot of families have back-to-school traditions that they follow every new academic year.  If your family doesn’t have any back-to-school traditions, it is not too late to start!

Here are a few ideas for ways to kick off the new school year right. Some of these traditions may be familiar to you, while others are more outside of the box! 

Beyond the First Day of School Picture

Those cute first-day-of school pictures with the letterboard signs are the most adorable of social media fodder. But why not take it up a notch?

  • Create a first day of school chalk message for your student on your driveway or sidewalk. They can pose with the message for a ramped version of an oldie-but-goodie. Want to go pro? I have seen some parents do chalk messages on school sidewalks (always get permission please, no defacing of school property!)
  • Recreate your senior’s very first school picture and create a side-by-side collage of the two of them. You’ve come a long way, baby!

Back-to-School Treat Bags…With a Twist*

Often associated with edible treats, but not to be confused with actual school supplies (and there are some clever school supplies out there!) make your version more of a swag bag. Package up items that are fun, can be used the whole school year, and reflect a bit of your student’s personality! Theme it up by choosing items that work together. Here are some examples that work together to create an outfit-themed swag bag:

  • Inspire them academically with a cool new t-shirt that is bookishly, mathematically, scientifically or fandom themed. 
  • A leather bracelet quoting literary greats like Mary Shelley, Robert Frost, Jane Austen or Maya Angelou is the perfect accessory for your lit-loving teen. 
  • Your student will be the coolest kid at the Bunsen burner this year from the ankles down when they hit the lab wearing a pair of these socks from Sock It To Me and some jazzy laces in their new sneaks from Cute Laces (check out the leopard print, tie dye, and ladybug ones!)

Pro-tip: Be a back-to-school fairy and leave the goodies on their bedside table or tied around their doorknob (if they are at a more knock-before-entering stage of teen-dom).

Back-to-School Vision Board

Plan a vision board party for your crafty student. Do they want to earn all A’s this year? Join an activity or club? Make a new friend? Get into that dream college? Put it all down on a vision board. All you need are some old magazines, advertisements, newspapers, glue sticks, markers, poster board, and maybe even some glitter (ok, maybe not glitter). Search for images that represent those goals and create a collage worthy of their bedroom wall.

Arts and crafts not your student’s thing? Try a digital version using Pinterest and collect web-based images. They can print out a collage for their wall, create stickers for notebooks, or use the digital version for their phone or laptop wallpaper.

Tickle Their Taste Buds

Mark the occasion with a special meal or treat. Here are some ideas:
  • Prepare your student’s favorite meal (or get takeout from their go-to spot) the night before school starts and have a family dinner to commemorate another academic year.
  • Bring breakfast burritos or sandwiches to the bus stop as a surprise for your student and their neighborhood friends.
  • Do “lunch on you” for your high schooler. If they can leave campus, get them a gift card to their favorite lunch spot, or offer to bring them food during their first week (if it doesn’t embarrass them to death).

Design a Great First Day

Looking to get artsy? Check out these ideas: 
  • Decorate your student’s door while they sleep to make their first morning back special. Silly string, balloons, streamers, and photos all make for great decorating materials.
  • Do you have a student who drives? Get them to class in style with arty car windows! Use car markers to wish them a great first day, or even a great last year for your senior.
  • Does your student have assigned parking at school? Chalk a message onto the pavement (keep it school appropriate and always get permission please, no defacing of school property!)

One Last Hurrah!

Go on a late summer adventure. Whether you head out-of-town, down the street, or the next city over, make it memorable and relaxing before your hectic semester begins. For those of you with rising seniors this may be the last family trip for a while (did I make you tear up?).

It doesn’t take much to create traditions that last from each school year to the next. You can even make variety be your tradition by keeping things fresh and trying something new each year. That’ll keep ‘em on their toes!

Have fun with whatever back-to-school traditions you decide on fun and enjoy that exciting next academic step on your student’s educational journey.

What back-to-school tradition will your family be starting, or continuing?

*This article was not sponsored in any way. These are just some products that I have used or discovered!

For more on starting the new school year out strong, check out our article, “Ready or Not: BASIS Charter Schools’ Top Tips for Tackling the School Year.”

Amy Licht
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