Back to School: The Importance of First-Day Traditions

Even if you are sad to see the summer go, there’s no denying the excitement a new school year brings. Get your kids, and yourself, motivated for a fresh start this year and build lasting memories by starting back-to-school traditions you can repeat each year. Remember to keep it simple because the tradition itself doesn’t matter as much as connecting going back to school with a special memory for your child to ease the transition from summer to school.

Try one of these easy and fun new traditions with your student or put a new spin on one to make it your own!

First Day Photos and Printable Sign


Taking a photo of your kids on their first day of school might be the most popular back-to-school tradition, and it’s great for the historical photo albums. We created these printable first-day-of-school photo signs for the perfect photo prop! Just click the grade(s) you need below and print your customized sign! If you decide to share on Instagram or Facebook use the hashtag #LearningLiftoff so we can see!

Preschool • Kindergarten1st Grade2nd Grade • 3rd Grade4th Grade5th Grade6th Grade7th Grade8th Grade9th Grade10th Grade11th Grade12th Grade

Back-to-School Breakfast

Strawberry waffles with syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkles

We all know that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and really does help kids learn. Our bodies, and brains need a fresh supply of glucose—or blood sugar—which is the brain’s basic fuel after sleeping (and not eating) all night. That means it is imperative to eat the best breakfast you can! Take this back-to-school season as an opportunity to start every day with a balanced breakfast. Create a first-day tradition by adding a little pizzazz to your meal. Some berries and whipped cream can be just what you need to establish a good foundation for the whole day, and, ultimately, for the school year! 

Back-to-School Art Display

artwork hanging from a window pane

Back-to-school means your child will soon be bringing home artwork, paperwork, etc., and you want to be ready to hang it with pride, right? You can hang them on the front of the refrigerator, or you can create a separate space to show off your student’s masterpieces, their A+ papers, or any example of their hard work. I took an old window frame and created a clothesline to hang different pieces, and I added a chalkboard to the bottom pane where my little artist can add seasonal decorations or explore her creative side.

Back-to-School Inspiration

inspirational quote on a clipboard

Start a back-to-school inspiration station for your family by placing a positive quote somewhere each week. You can put it in the same spot, such as above their desk, and encourage a positive mindset while they’re studying; or you can change it up every week like the Elf on the Shelf to keep them guessing! Not only will it help you stay positive, but it’s also a great way to encourage your kids to keep working hard, to be proud of their progress, or to celebrate their victories throughout the year.

Special Snacks

Make the first day of school extra sweet with clever back-to-school snacks or candy grams. Try to make it as personal as possible by creating their favorite animal out of their favorite fruit or incorporate something you know they’ll be learning soon. 

First-Day-of-School Decorations

balloons and streamers hanging from doorway

Mornings are often associated with alarm clocks, but why not make it fun with balloons? Nothing says “celebration” quite like some streamers and balloons. You can even take traditions from other holidays and make them work for a back-to-school tradition. Put a twist on the concept of New Year’s Eve, for example, and celebrate School Year’s Eve! Set the mood with some decorations, and get excited for all of the accomplishments this school year will bring. 

We also pinned lots of great back-to-school ideas, tips, and tricks to our back-to-school Pinterest board. Take a look at those ideas, too, or come up with something totally original for your family!

Do you have a back-to-school tradition? Share it in the comments or on Facebook.

This article originally published in 2014 and has been revised and republished.

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