By Elise Hamel

Ahh, back to school time! For many homeschool parents it can feel overwhelming. It can be daunting to help our kids get back into a new routine after a more relaxed summer.

But whether you school year round, prefer a lighter load over the summer, or take a complete break, connecting a fun tradition or memory with the first day of school can replace the “back-to-school blues” with anticipation and enthusiasm. Here are a few ideas to help celebrate this season.

Back to School Bonfire

At the beach, in the mountains, or in your backyard, a back-to-school bonfire can be a cherished tradition. Gather your completed workbooks and papers from the previous year to burn at your bonfire. Invite other homeschool families to join you with their old papers for an even bigger blaze. Once all the paper has burned, add some charcoal or real wood and have a hotdog or s’mores roast!

First Day of School Pictures

First day of school pictures are a special way to look back on how your children have grown over the years. You can easily find chalkboards or free printables to have them hold. Safety note: do not include too much identifying information, such as your last name, city, or full date of birth, if you plan on posting them on the internet. As a homeschooling mom, don’t forget to get a photo of yourself each year, too! Don’t worry if you miss a year or don’t get around to taking pictures until halfway through the year. Document the journey even when it isn’t perfect.

First Day of School About Me/Time Capsule

Similar to the first day of school pictures, a time capsule or an “About Me” page is another way to document a moment in your life. You can find “About Me ” fill-in-the-blank printables online or you can ask your child to write a paragraph or two about themselves, depending on their writing level. To make a time capsule, you can choose to do one for your entire family that you would open at the end of the school year. You could also create one for each child, placing one item into the time capsule at the beginning and/or end of each school year and open them upon graduation. Include items such as a favorite outgrown camp t-shirt or sports team jersey, your first day of school photo or the About Me page mentioned earlier, or have your children write or draw some hopes and goals for the coming year. 

First Day of School Trail Mix

You can customize this idea to whatever your family enjoys eating (maybe it’s tacos, pizza, baked potatoes, or an ice cream bar instead of trail mix). Pick toppings or ingredients and place them in different containers. Then, for each container write something they might be looking forward to this coming school year. Have each family member create their snack or meal using the ingredients that match their answers. For example, if doing a trail mix bar, almonds could be “art projects,” raisins could be “growing closer to God,” and chocolate chips could be “learning new math facts.” Enjoy your unique creations while sharing your answers.

First Day of School Fun Day

How about instead of a day of book work, your first day of school is a field trip or outing? This could be a celebratory outing after some light book work or count as school for the entire day. It could be a trip to your local amusement park, a kid’s museum, nature hike, or going out for donuts or ice cream. 

First Day of School Fairy

One homeschool family celebrates the first day of school with a simple but memorable tradition. The night before the first day of school, their three girls leave out their completed school books from the previous year. In the morning, they have been replaced with their new school books, some new school supplies, and a simple gift or treat.

Celebrations can be simple, elaborate, or somewhere in between. Don’t stress about a Pinterest-worthy party; your kids won’t remember the extras. They will remember the special memories created around different seasons and milestones in their childhood. We hope these ideas will help you create excitement for your family as you begin a new school year, filled with opportunities to grow and learn together.