Ten Awesome Back-to-Homeschool Traditions Your Family Can Start This Year

Whether you take the summer off in your homeschool or you homeschool year round, the season of back-to-school is one that will surround you and your kids as the summer ends and traditional schools start back. Stores fill with school supplies. Back-to-school sales hit physical and online stores. Some states even have a tax free weekend so that parents can spend lots of money on back-to-school supplies without paying tax.

So what do you do with back-to-school when you’re a homeschooler? Whether you’re starting back after a break or continuing on with your regular homeschooling routine, you can have some fun with these awesome back-to-homeschool traditions.

Back-to-homeschool traditions

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Start a back-to-homeschool supply shopping tradition.

I love to buy school supplies. I just do. And, in the fall, when many traditional schools are starting back, is a great time to find awesome deals on school supplies. (I just recently wrote a post about all the deals you could even find online!) 

Although we certainly don’t need the lengthy school supply lists that most schools give kids at the beginning of the year- have you seen those lists?!- it is a good time for us to stock up on the little things that seem to break, get used up, or disappear throughout the year. I usually let them pick a new pack of pens OR pencils and a pack of crayons OR colored pencils. I grab some general glue sticks and folders and spiral notebooks as needed. And they pick out a personality binder.

The personality binder tradition started five or so years ago here. We were school shopping, and I knew the kids each needed a few binders because we use notebooking quite a bit around here. The kids all wanted to go for the expensive decorative binders. I, on the other hand, wanted the solid colored, cheap binders. We reached a compromise. They picked one decorative binder- the “personality binder”- and then I grabbed a few plain binders.

Over the years the tradition has morphed. Now my son is responsible for picking each person’s personality binder based on what he thinks best represents them. Usually they agree and pick that binder. Sometimes they don’t. And then one of the girls pick out his binder- which he may or may not keep. It’s just a silly practice, but it’s become a favorite back-to-school tradition here. Maybe you can form a tradition around back-to-school shopping.

Throw a Not-Back-to-School Party with some homeschooling friends.

What do we do on the day that other local kids are starting back to school, dressing back up in school clothes, packing a school lunch, sitting in desks for eight hours a day once again? We party of course!

Over the years we’ve had fun getting together with homeschooling friends to throw a not-back-to-school party. You can choose to go to the park, get together at a pizza restaurant, throw a party at someone’s house. You can even just have a small family party. However you choose to do it, a party is an awesome way to celebrate the season of back-to-school.

If you really want to go all out, this post from I Heart Naptime has some great ideas for everything from invitations to food to decorations to fun activities. We usually stick to something simple like cupcakes and hanging with friends. But…if elaborate is your thing, go for it, and have some fun!

Go to a museum, amusement park or other local “fun spot” that’s usually crowded with kids.

One of the most awesome things about homeschooling is that we get to go to all the fun places when they’re not crowded. Try to go the nature museum in the summer, and you’ll find yourself waiting in line with a pack of small squirming children for anything you want to do. On the other hand, if you’ wait until school starts back, you’ll often have the place to yourself.

There’s always the risk of a school field trip, though, But…if you visit on the first day that traditional schools start back…no field trips! So start a traditional back-to-school field trip and enjoy a favorite place with not much of a crowd.

Start a back-to-homeschool first day of school tradition in your family.

What do you do on your first day to start back to homeschooling? Make the day special by starting some fun back-to-school traditions.

Have a special breakfast or a special lunch. Start a brand new read-aloud. Start with a fun fine arts activity that kids will really get into. If you don’t normally do unit studies, do a fun mini unit study for the first day of school. What you do doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. But if it’s something the kids look forward to each year, it will make starting back to school so much fun.

Create back-to-school buzz with a special family meeting.

We like to have family meetings. With six people in the family, the best- and only- way to assure that everyone hears the same information is to have a family meeting. I like to hold a special family meeting on the weekend before we start school.

In that meeting, I’ll give the kids some information about some of the topics we’re studying that year- especially making connections to things they’re already interested in when I can. I’ll ask the kids’ opinions about certain things on our schedule. For example, “Would you rather do history first thing in the morning or should we save it until after lunch?”

We look at some of the new curricula for the year and talk about some of the read alouds we’re going to do. We talk about which subjects we’ll cover together and which will be independent work. This family meeting gets everybody on the same page before school starts back, but it also creates a general sense of excitement and looking forward to the new year.

Back-to-homeschool traditions

Take a family picture.

I must confess that this is a tradition I’ve never been able to get the kids on board with. But some families do it very successfully. I’ve been looking at cute Facebook pictures of the first day of school for some time now.

If you can get the kids to cooperate, this Pinterest page has tons of ideas for the crafty…or not so crafty…mom. Get the kids to pose and start a back-to-homeschool tradition.

Get a new outfit or new pjs for kids to wear to school.

One year my kids began asking for new back-to-school outfits. Um…we won’t leave the house on our first day of school. I’m not sure where the idea came from- probably from our stint of time spent in watching too much Disney channel.As it happened, we had some money budgeted because the kids did need new outfits. So I let them choose a back-to-school outfit.

I think a fun variation of this would be to let the kids choose a new pair of pjs for the year- especially if you’re a casual family who homeschools in your pjs. This doesn’t have to be an expensive tradition. We’ve had hand me down clothes that I’ve saved and let the kids go through right before we started back to school. They still have a “new” outfit, and I didn’t have to spend anything.

Help kids set their own goals for the school year.

Goal setting is an important skill to teach our kids. And the beginning of a new school year is a great time to help them learn how to set goals. In your back-to-school family meeting (the tradition from above), or as a separate tradition, you can have the kids set their own goals for the school year.

What do they want to learn this year? Is there a particular skill they want to accomplish? What kind of physical goals do they want to set- eating more fruit, exercising every day? Are they working on a certain behavior- like stopping arguing with siblings- and can set a goal to help them work toward that behavior?

Help them to think through these goals and share them with the family. Then, throughout the school year, you can help them to see when and how they’re working toward those goals. You can use those goals as a reminder if the kids get frustrated or overwhelmed.

Start a new journal that kids can keep throughout the school year.

I love to journal. Not all of my kids do. But journaling is a great way to practice writing skills and to get kids in the habit of personal reflection. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to start a new journal because at the end of the year, kids can look back and see their growth.

Kids can journal in anything- a fancy notebook or a cheap spiral notebook. They can write in pen, in pencil, in crayon, in marker. The journal isn’t meant to be graded or even- necessarily- to be read by mom. The purpose is so that kids can look back over the year and see their growth.

When kids first begin to journal, you’ll probably want to give them some daily prompts to help with self-reflection. This site has 180 prompts to get kids started journaling. Some kids won’t need a prompt at all and will have plenty to write if given time.

I think it’s a great idea for Mom to start a journal at the beginning of each year as well. Record interesting things about each child’s learning and growth. Not only will it be a great homeschooling record, it’s fun to look back over the year and see how the kids have changed and matured.

Decorate the schoolroom or area where school happens in your house.

Do you have a specific schoolroom? We don’t. School happens primarily in our dining room for the younger set. And the older crew do most of their work in their rooms. When kids were little, however, we did have a designated schoolroom. Although it also held our table and pantry area, it was much more of a schoolroom than a dining room.

Whether you have a designated schoolroom or just have an area where school usually happens, it can be fun to put up some back-to-homeschool decorations. Your decorations don’t have to be fancy. Take a trip to the dollar store and get some streamers. Have the kids make posters on printer paper. The idea is just to have fun and to help kids get back into a school mindset.

Even though our kids don’t go to traditional schools, they can get into the back-to-school spirit. With some of these ideas, you can create some new back-to-homeschool traditions this school year.

Does your family have any fun back-to-school traditions?

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