15 Back-to-School Traditions You'll Want to Steal

Parents share fun ways to make the start of school memorable.

You've purchased new backpacks and stocked up on fun things to pack in their lunchboxes. What else can you do to mark the big day (besides snapping their picture on the front stoop)? We compiled a few cool back-to-school traditions you'll definitely want to try with your kids.

01 of 15

Add a little magic

"I love all things magical and mysterious that will keep my children 'little' for as long as possible. Every year, the night before school, the First Day of School Fairy sometimes find her way into our home. There are always supplies and items that my three boys are going to need for school anyway—she leaves them a little note of encouragement for the first day!"—Marsha McGuire, kindergarten teacher and mom of three in Cadillac, Mich., and blogger at Differentiated Kindergarten

02 of 15

Make it a holiday for you

"After we drop our kids off at school, my friend and I head straight to the beach with our lunch and a mimosa. We jokingly post a picture with the caption 'Hi, kids. Hope you're enjoying the first day of school as much as we are.' It's a great release from all the stress leading up to the first morning of school."—Meredith Eaton, mom of two in Glen Ridge, N.J.

03 of 15

Create a back-to-school bucket list

Have your kids dream up some fun and exciting goals to look forward to this year—whether it's making new friends, aiming for the honor roll, or trying a new sport or activity.

04 of 15

Borrow a cool German back-to-school tradition

German parents present their kids with a "schultüte," a massive cone filled with school supplies and candy, as a sweet first day of school tradition. (Etsy has some super cute ones!)

05 of 15

Give each child a day

"I give each child a book on the day of the school year that corresponds to his or her grade. So a book on the first day of first grade, the second day of second grade, and so on. It's a rare feat, really, because I am just not the kind of mom who memorializes every moment, and I have definitely skipped some years or gotten the day wrong. But if you have more than one child, it's sort of cool that it is spread out—kids aren't getting the same thing on the same day. And there's some anticipation as they get older, having to wait three or four days." —Rebekah Witzke, a mother of three in Queens, N.Y., who blogs at thewildspace.com

06 of 15

Shop around—and give back

"We get all of the best ads from the back-to-school fliers in the newspaper, and then one night, after we go out to dinner, we jump around to all of the stores—100 erasers for 25 cents! Five folders for a penny! And we pack up a big bag and donate it all to the school. Schools need so many extra supplies. And we have fun running around finding deals." —Ellen Main, a former teacher and mother of two in South Pasadena, Calif.

07 of 15

Make special sundaes

"We invite over our neighbors for an ice cream sundae party, but we rename the toppings: things like 'bravery,' 'friendship,' 'kindness,' 'self-control,' and 'laughter.' The kids can 'put on' attributes that they want to experience during the school year. It gives the kids a chance to share their emotions about going back to school." —Carrie Sanders, a mother of two in New York (see the inspiration at Run Lucas Run)

08 of 15

Personalize pencils

"This is a small thing, but I always order my girls a set of personalized pencils. For some reason they are obsessed with office supplies, and they find it motivating to start off the year with a fresh batch of new pencils with their names on them." —Betsy Goldberg, former Real Simple home director

09 of 15

Show and tell

"A show-and-tell dinner on the first day of school gives our kids a chance to each show and tell us about their first day back, from their teacher to what they ate at lunch to a new friend they made." —Janssen Bradshaw, a mother of three who blogs at everyday-reading.com

10 of 15

Prep some pancakes

"Pancakes for dinner the night before. My mom used to do pancakes for breakfast on the first day, but that is not easy to pull off—and frankly, it's not quite the brain food kids need. So I do them for dinner. Kids' choice: blueberry or chocolate chip. If there's any leftover batter, I might put a mini chocolate-chip pancake as dessert in the first day's lunchbox." —Sarah Copeland, former Real Simple food director

11 of 15

Talk over ice cream

"We go to an amusement park at the end of the summer to give the start of school a positive twist. And we always go to the same ice cream place the night before school starts. While you're sitting there, eating and talking, if your kids have fears or worries, they'll probably come out. Then they sleep better." —ML Nichols, a mother of two

12 of 15

Combine fun and getting stuff done

"Near the end of the summer, my husband takes our boys on an overnight trip to Atlanta for a baseball game with a big group of fathers and sons. They always stop at an office store on the three-hour drive back to pick up all their school supplies." —Anne Wolfe Postic, a writer in Columbia, S.C., who contributes to thekitchn.com

13 of 15

Take time for grown-ups

"After dropping off the kids at school on the first day, my husband and I are vowing to go out to brunch, just the two of us, and toast the year ahead." —Carrie Sanders

14 of 15

Break the ice before the first day of school

"If your child is beginning school for the first time or just heading back to begin a new grade, arranging gatherings with fellow classmates and parents ahead of time is a great way to break the ice. I can remember the pre-school years being invited to a family's home as a getting-to-know-you before the year began. It was so smart and especially helpful for our kids. They were able to establish a relationship with their fellow classmates before the first day." —Chris Pegula, father of three and author of From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy

15 of 15

Give them something to grow into

"I've seen this idea floating through my social media stream this week, and I'd like to try it. Buy a big T-shirt for your kid that says Class of [whatever year your child is set to graduate in] and then take a picture of your child growing into the shirt each year on the first day of school." —Buzz Bishop, father of two who blogs at DadCamp.com

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