Get ready for the Back to School season by creating an extra special family tradition that’ll be a blast for kinder kids all the way up to grade school greats. From interviewing your little scholars to fixing up a favorite meal, we rounded up 21 ideas that make the grade. Keep reading to see them all.

1. Count it down. Make the first day of school something to look forward to by crafting a paper countdown chain. Each day, tear one link off the chain and ask the kiddos to name something they’re looking forward to about school. Get more details on this tradition at Brassy Apple.

2. Have a show and tell dinner on the first night. Family dinners are always important, but make it a tradition to allow the kids to tell you everything about their first day, from the friends they haven't seen over the summer to the classroom layout or what they had for lunch.

3. A day-one surprise. Celebrate the first day in style with a visit from the First Day of School Fairy. She can deliver a few school supplies, along with an encouraging note for the new year. For more on this fun idea, visit Differentiated Kindergarten.

photo: iStock

4. Read a special book the night before. Whether it's The Places You'll Go or Miss Nelson Is Missing!, find a classic picture book that'll get your kids ready to start the new year. 

5. Make a family motto. To help your little ones start the new school year in the right mindset, come up with a short family motto. It’ll help remind everyone what’s important in tough moments throughout the year. We love Dandee’s short and sweet slogan, “Be brave”—click here for more details on this idea.

6. Customize something. You can order specialized pencils with their name or label their new water bottle, but allowing your kids to stake their claim on school gear can help them feel confident about the new year. 

7. Celebrate School Year's Eve. You celebrate New Year’s Eve, so why not do the same for School Year’s Eve? Get poppers or noisemakers, provide a few treats, and throw a little dance party. It'll get your students excited for what’s to come, and it’s a great way to include some of the other fun ideas on this list. Looking for more inspiration? Check out the School Year’s Eve party guide over at 11 Cupcakes.

8. Decorate your pad. Either let your kids help with the decor, or surprise your school-aged sweeties with a decorated door when they wake up in the morning. Whatever you choose to do, it's a great way to celebrate!

9. Draw a self-portrait. Let your little Einsteins create a version of themselves in a back-to-school outfit. It’s a great way to pass those last few summer days, and it’s a sure bet for getting kids excited about donning their new threads and heading to the classroom. See how Jaime of Hands On As We Grow completed this fun activity.

10. Host an ice cream sundae party with a twist. We love this idea from Run Lucas Run. Host a party with friends, but give the toppings special names like bravery, love, respect and other characteristics your kids can hope to emulate through the year. Click here for the details

11. Interview your kids. Discover goals, fears, and questions about all things school by interviewing your little scholars before the first bell rings. It’s not very hard to come up with a list of questions, and whether you write down the answers or videotape your tykes, it’s a memory everyone will treasure for years to come.

12. Create a bucket list. You do it for summer, why not make one for the school year? Whether they want to jump a reading level or two or try out for a new sport, when kids have goals, they succeed!

photo: iStock

13. Take cool pictures. Everyone loves to document the first and last day of school. There are so many creative ways to commemorate the occasion—from chalkboards to t-shirts and more. You can find our favorite ideas by clicking here.

14. Have a back-to-school dinner. Whether you make a favorite meal or go out to eat, celebrating the start of another school year with an awesome dinner in their honor will always make your kids feel special. Psst! This is also a fun tradition to share with friends! 

15. Have a special activity ready when the bell rings. Whether you take them to their favorite park to burn off that first-day anxiety, have a craft planned or grab an ice cream and talk, it's easy to make the first after-school afternoon unique. 

photo: iStock

16. Make an awesome breakfast. You'll be throwing cereal and milk at the kids soon enough, so why not whip up a fancy breakfast for their first day? It’ll keep your kids full, and make them look forward to getting up early! 

17. Write a sidewalk chalk message. If there's a sweeter way to send your kids off to school than a chalk message outside the front door, we haven't found it. Go all out or keep it simple; either way, it's an extra boost to help ease those first day jitters. 

18. Give them a new book. Get your bookworms ready by gifting them a new book before school starts. Those required reading minutes will go faster when they’ve got the latest release in their favorite series. Plus, we're pretty sure kids can never have too many books. 

19. Pack a super special lunch. They might be asking for a school lunch soon, or you might be tossing leftovers in the lunchbox a week from now, but a specially prepared lunch for the first day beats cafeteria food ten times over. Get your kids involved by asking them what they want, and have them help you get it ready! Check out our favorite ideas for easy and creative lunches here

20. Organize a Bus Stop brunch. Gather your bus route buddies for donuts, bagels, juice and other fun snacks as you wait for their yellow chauffer. 

21. Slip a note into their lunchbox. If you don't feel like being a bento box master, then consider the fact that nothing will make your kiddo feel more loved on that first day than when she opens up her lunchbox to a sweet note. From printables to simple paper napkins, we’ve got the scoop on the best ways to send love via lunch.

— Gabby Cullen


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