Back to School Traditions!

Yesterday we all piled into the van for the annual school supplies shopping trek. I feel like not much has changed there since I was a child. Some of the exact same items are on the list, in fact. First, there’s the “mostly easy to find but one or two impossible things to find” item. in our case purple pocket folders with brads in the middle. Plenty of red, blue, yellow and green, but purple? Nowhere to be found. Next there’s the famous “thanks for being so specific, but I’m not getting that” item. For us two boxes of two hundred-count unscented Kleenex fit the bill. The 180 count boxes will have to suffice. Who can forget the  “We’re not getting that because it’s not on the list” item? In Clayton and Sam’s case, many things items including (but not limited to) Skittles, office chairs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil sharpeners, and post-it notes in the shape of arrows fit this description. Ah the joys. Although some parts of back to school shopping are a drag, it’s also really great. I love the tradition of it all, the reminder that something new is about to happen, and the hopefulness that comes with the start of a new year.

Obviously, I love traditions. A full 1/3 of Faithful Families is dedicated to them. The back to school tradition in the book is included at the end of this post. Before we get to that, though, I thought I’d give a shout out to a few other traditions that I think are really great.

Back to School Benedictions

This idea comes from writer and podcaster Osheta Moore who runs the great website Shalom in the City. Her entire post is on this topic is so lovely and heartfelt and you must read it in full to appreciate the idea. Basically, you come up with a benediction for the school year with your child, write it down, and photograph it. Head over to the post for full details and photos of Osheta’s lovelies. I absolutely love this idea, and think it’s a great way to frame the new year with your children. I enjoy Osheta’s work, and think you will too!

Back to School Pictures

These are becoming pretty popular, and I think a nice back to school picture on the first day is a great idea! (Warning: one thing that’s wrong with them is that they can contribute to a sense of “I’m doing it wrong” among parents when the first day doesn’t go as planned, the child doesn’t sit still for the picture — or doesn’t want a picture — or when something just doesn’t feel “picture perfect” in life. If this feels like you this year I urge you, in fact I challenge you to ditch the first day of school picture! Your child will not be scarred for life if he/she does not have a neat and tidy photo from the first day of school for every year. It’s fine!) There are plenty of places online to get free printable signs to hold up that say “First day of Kindergarten” and so forth. It’s fun to see folks taking their back to school pictures by the same tree or whatever. When I was little, we always took photos in front of the fireplace.

Back to School Breakfast

If you can swing it, having a back to school breakfast is a fun idea. If parents are able to go in to work late, or if a special guest can come over or Skype in (hi grandma and grandpa!) it could make the first day extra special. Perhaps having something a little indulgent (donuts?!) in addition to healthy brain food could be a good addition to the first day of school. 

Back to School Acts of Service

I think it’s always fun to think about a way to do something kind or nice in connection with a special day like the first day of school. I’ve been wondering about some acts of service that might work well for back to school. If you’ve got a tradition that your family does around this, I’d love it if you shared it in the comments. For our family, it’s going to be to make up an extra bag of school supplies for each child’s classroom (and add a little gift card to Office Max or Target). We’ll write a note to the teacher telling him or her that the gift is intended for anyone who needs them. If we’re really lucky, we’ll track down some more of those purple folders with brads for others who weren’t able to find them!  I think it’s a good reminder not to take school supplies for granted, and I got the idea from a former counselor from my child’s school who told me they have resources for students who need supplies, but can always use some extras so they don’t have to come out of the teacher’s pocket.

Back to School Footprint Tradition

This is the tradition in my book Faithful Families. My son Samuel and I made a video to explain it. Check it out if you haven’t seen it already:

I’m very excited that Chalice Press is allowing us to offer the back to school practice from the book as a PDF for you completely free. Just download HERE!

What are your back to school traditions? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these as well as ideas for others. Please feel free to share in the comments!

  • Shawn Howell

    Loved this blog post, video with your son, and the pdf. I just emailed the pdf out to the parents of my church. Thanks so much! 🙂