12 Fun First Day of School Traditions for Busy Parents

Whether you are doing a virtual school, home school or going back to school full or part-time, this year is going to be filled with uncertainties. As a mom with 30-year-old twins and having gone through all of the school decisions in the past I can only sympathize with every parent out there. Whether in a pandemic or not each school year brings with it choices and challenges.

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Our kids need to feel comforted and safe and all the adult things aside it is important that we create special traditions before that first day back. Things to get excited about and simple things that don’t always entail staying plugged in. Balance is key.

Growing up in the 60s and 70s when all the craziness of the world was going on around me, (and if you look back you will see) my parents never made it feel like there was anything to worry about. Life was slow, simple, and joyful for us as kids. If there is any time we need this type of philosophy it is now. And I think we are getting the hang of it since we have had time to slow down a bit and stay home.

While I still love what technology has to offer us in the way of staying connected and even learning new things, too much of it can also cause a disconnect, more worry and less imaginative play.

“Let today be the start of something new" -- Anonymous

This school year if you are looking for some awesome traditions to start with your kids then we have 12 Fun Back to School ideas to add to your list.

1. Shop Around and Give Back

I am so grateful that we have had a job to keep paying bills and give to others when we see fit. This School Year is going to bring with it so many people trying to make ends meet. Teaching our kids to give back is an awesome way to kick off the new school year. Why not start the tradition of putting together a backpack for a much deserved child in need. Have your kids either search online for fun things or head to your local store for a school supply date. Grab a school's list and see what is needed and fulfill that list and donate it to that school.

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2. Personalize Some School Items

Each year it would be nice to personalize a special school item. How about a mouse pad with pics from the summer with the family, pencils with names on them or even a backpack or crayons with names on them.

Personalized Crayons from Crayola

Personalized Kids Mouse Pad

Personalized Pencils for Kids

Personalized Backpacks for Kids

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3. Countdown to School Calendar

Kids love when the holidays come along and they have something to look forward to. A Countdown Calendar or Chalkboard or perhaps a jar of candy that they can pull one piece each day from until the first day of school would be so much fun!

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4. Buy a New Book

I love when kids get excited about reading. Being an avid reader myself and someone who buys books for people and for children who need them I am all about a book as a gift. Ask the kids if they have a book they would love to read or maybe you can find a book from a top book for kids list and surprise them the night before with a childhood favorite or something they love to learn about.

If you are doing a virtual school maybe you can ask the teacher if you can video yourself reading a book to the class. The teacher can let the students know a mystery reader coming to them during their online school day. I also love being able to donate a book to a child who doesn’t have access to a library just yet and would love to read too. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has a donate button. Have the kids do chores during the summer and donate some money that goes towards kids receiving a book.

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5. First Day of School Backpack Fairy

Want a fun way to gift your kids new supplies? Have the Backpack Fairy come for a visit. Leave a sign on the door that your child is waiting, leave a note from the Fairy congratulating the child on their new grade level, and what to do next such as sending them on a Fun Scavenger Hunt to find their backpack. A certificate and note can be attached to the gifts. We actually have another Scavenger Hunt you can use for older kids with Back to School Questions and Activities! See it here! Our Backpack Fairy Kit will be in our shop soon so keep checking. We want you to have everything you need.

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6. Decorate the Homework or Virtual School Station

I love the idea of setting up the home for success when it comes to studying and learning. Asking your kids how they would love to decorate their little corner of a room would be so exciting. The Dollar Tree has tons of items to decorate with for Teachers that are easily adapted to creating a schoolhouse in the home and even a fun and colorful desk for your kids. Here’s a great YouTube mom who does just that on a budget.

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7. Calendars for Bucket Lists

Hand each child a Calendar and ask them to fill in each month with a fun thing they would love to do if they accomplish their homework, chores, and study hard. Here are some fun Calendars for Kids that you can purchase and use for that.

You could even purchase a family Calendar and start a Bucket List of family things to do when everything is completed for the week.

How about a September Activities Printable Calendar you can use to put on the fridge and a blank Calendar to complete each month? Make fun plans for the whole month with easy to do activities. Here's one we made for you to get started. And it's FREE!

8. Lunchbox Planners

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Do you remember when you were young and you received a calendar with all of the lunches they were serving in the cafeteria for that month? I sure do. My kids would bring them home and we would circle their favorites and then I knew when to give them money for lunch that day.

Most of the time we made our own lunches because my kids loved that and all the notes and surprises I gave them. With the new normal that is something you may have to get used to. So, let’s plan lunches!

Bring the family together and write down what each day of the week will entail for lunch. Make a grocery list, create snack and juice areas in the pantry, cut up fruit and veggies for the week, and make your Weekly Planner for Lunchbox meals (we don’t want to get stressed out).

When you grocery shop how about playing a little bingo game. Find the items you need for that week together and see who can win! We found a free Lunchbox Planner with Bingo Game so you can do just that!

9. Family Motto and A Kindness Goal

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Starting the week and year off on a steady foot is just what we need. At the dinner table create a Family Motto for the School Year and post it somewhere where everyone can see it daily. Underneath that write down One Kindness Goal for the Month that everyone can try and accomplish. Simple ideas like saying something nice to someone or helping mom with the dishes is a start. Things that would take time like saving your allowance to donate to a cause or your school is another goal. Maybe writing a letter to your teacher would be a kind goal too. A letter from everyone would be nice. Here's a FREE Family Motto and Kindness Goal Printable from Grinandprint on Etsy to hang on your Fridge.

10. School Time Photos and School Yearbooks

Of course there is always the first and last day of School Photos that are taken. I think another take on the usual Back to School Signs is taking a picture of your child in their shoes and next to the shoes on the pavement write the grade, age, and teacher.

Take Photos all year long of family activities, school time events online, school projects, art and more. Before the end of the school year gather up all the photos and create a homemade School Yearbook. Google Photos has books you can purchase, Chatbooks is another great idea and Shutterfly even has a section to create homemade

yearbooks! There are so many others to choose from if you want to do this. Ask your kids to participate too! Let them decide what goes into the book so they can be the official yearbook staff from home.

11. Back to School New Year’s Eve Party

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Just like New Year’s Eve why not celebrate a New Year of School! Get out the punch, blowers, and confetti and play some music (we created a Back to School Playlist on Spotify just for the occasion).

Create a Countdown and maybe even play a New Year’s Game Here! Or how about another School Game with Dice or a classic game like Bingo with a twist.

Eat cake, have a favorite meal (Chinese comes to mind) and read each other’s fortunes from a fortune cookie. Ask us to create a Back To School Scratcher Card for everyone! You buy the Scratch Off Stickers and we provide the fun ideas for a fortune for the day. Scratcher Cards can be used to add a positive message for each day to scratch off too. Ask us to create some for you today.

12. Time Capsule

Start a School Year Time Capsule with a favorite school memory, items you have received like awards, an interview written about favorite foods, TV shows, friends, etc. Add everything to the capsule and save it for a graduation day years ahead or for Elementary and Junior High Grads too! Here is the interview sheets for every grade.

Another wonderful thing I read lately was about a dad who bought a book for his child and each year he had that child’s teacher write a message inside the book. He gifted the book at their high school graduation. I’m bawling just thinking about it. That alone makes a wonderful time capsule.

There are so many traditions you can start for your kids even during trying times. Know that whatever you have to do, that you got this! You can make amazing memories. Your kids will know you tried and will remember what you did for them to make their New School Year an Awesome one! No need to be perfect either. Just stay positive and get excited for your family.

Do you have things that you do? Maybe you have a fun breakfast or you decorate your child’s bedroom door. Maybe you are allowing your grown child that would have been living on campus to decorate their bedroom like a dorm room so it feels like they are there while studying online. Whatever it is, comment and let us know what you are doing to make this School Year extra special and Happy First Day of School!

Here at Grinandprint, we make low-screen time and no-screen time games, activities, scavenger hunts and more so busy parents can spend quality time with their kids.

We are dedicated to creating what you need so you don’t have to think about it. Fast and easy set-up fun you print from home.

Balance is key when you live in a technology-filled world. A faster solution to imaginative play, and spending time together as a family whatever the size is so important to us when we create our printable items for our shop and for you.

Let us know if you need something or you want to see something in our shop so we can get started on it and have it there for you and your kids.

Michele Trombley

CEO Grinandprint on Etsy and


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