Our Back-to-School Traditions

Pens and pencils in pencil cupI never had any traditions when my children started preschool. I was too busy dealing with cranky babies, non-napping toddlers, and a busy work schedule to do more than give my children a hug on the first day of school. No notes in the lunchbox. No photos. Nothing.

As I left my child at preschool dropoff, I looked forward to a few hours of peace even if I still had a younger child with me. One less child is still one less child to lug around to errands, right?

My teen is the oldest child in our family and the oldest grandchild on both sides. All traditions begin with her. As I prepared her for her first experience with Big Kid School – as we called it when she was in preschool – we talked about her new teacher, her new friends, and the school bus ride.

The bus ride was what she most looked forward to. She was a tiny 5-year-old who hated using a car seat. (At 5 she weighed enough to still use a toddler car seat.) We moved her to a booster seat after listening to her strident protests. Riding on a school bus without wearing a seat belt was her dream ride.

On the first day of school, we waited at the end of the driveway for the school bus. My husband went to work late. I stood with our almost 3-year-old for what seemed like hours waiting for the bus. Our 5-year-old drooped a little under the weight of her backpack, but she was beaming. Eager to get on the school bus!

The bus rumbled down our court. Our 5-year-old climbed the huge steps of the bus with her school bus nametag pinned proudly to her shirt.  The nametag listed her bus number. She never looked back. I snapped a quick photo of her getting on the bus and that was it. I was shocked and discombobulated as the bus drove away. We waved frantically at her. She never waved back at us. I knew she would be fine at school.

With our first born heading to her first day of school, we began our first tradition…taking photographs.

  • Take photos of your child on the first day of school inside the house or outside the house.
  • Take a photo of your child with her siblings.
  • Take a photo of your child next to the mailbox, or an adult, or in front of the front door for a point of reference to show how tall your child was.
  • If you can, drive to the elementary school to take a photo of your child getting off the school bus. I only did this on each child’s first day of school.

My preschooler and I spent the day waiting for the kindergartener to arrive home on the bus. It was all she could talk about.

As the bus pulled in to the neighborhood we all stood at the end of the driveway holding a bunch of balloons each. My sister and her girls came with a bunch of balloons. My parents were there with balloons. My preschooler held balloons, too.

You should have seen the faces of the kids on the school bus as my daughter was given so many bunches of balloons. She was thrilled. She bounced in to the house. She weighed so little at the time that I am surprised that she didn’t float.

Our second tradition…celebrating the end of the first day of school.

  • We give balloons to our kids at the end of the first day of kindergarten. We also gave balloons to my nieces when both came home on their first day of Big Kid School.
  • Take a photograph of the bus coming down the road or of your child getting off the bus.
  • Invite the grandparents…aunts and uncles…to be there when your child gets off the bus. My husband — a teacher — was not able to be there as he was teaching a class. We took many photos for him to see.
  • Go out for ice cream after school.

Our third tradition…set the after-school schedule from day one.

  • We do homework on the first day of school whether the teacher assigns it or not.
  • I will complete the emergency cards and other school paperwork while the children read a book, complete the summer workbook, etc.

At some point, I will get up-to-date with my scrapbook for my children. I am looking forward to going through the photos from the first day of school.

What are your traditions for the first day of school?

Originally posted as part of VolunteerSpot’s Views on Back to School Series.  Please watch the quick video below to learn more about how You can help your school this year and how VolunteerSpot’s free online coordination tool saves time and gets more parents involved.

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