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10 “First Day Of School” Homeschool Traditions

By July 17, 2023July 21st, 202316 Comments

How do you prepare for the first day of “homeschool” in a new school year?

Even if they’ve been homeschooling all year round, it turns out that local families have plenty of great ideas for making their “back-to-school” time extra special!

Here are some suggested traditions and tips from area homeschoolers:

First Day Tradition No. 1: Special foods

OK, OK … so maybe doughnuts aren’t the healthiest foods around, but many homeschool families start their first day of school with these delectable morsels. After all, we have 364 days in the rest of the year to eat healthy.

Other families will go out for a meal at a local restaurant, pack a special boxed lunch, bake a special treat (who says your first day can’t be a “piece of cake”?), or order pizza.

First Day Tradition No. 2: Field trips

Try going somewhere special to celebrate. From museums and parks to amusement centers, the zoo, and skating rinks – possibilities abound! Who knows, you may even start a new family tradition.

Sometimes even a quiet walk in the woods or on a nature trail can put a fresh spin to restarting school. It doesn’t have to be too fancy, but whatever your children enjoy in spending time together.

First Day Tradition No. 3: Great Wolf Lodge Homeschool Week

For the last few years, we’ve partnered with Great Wolf Lodge to offer special discounts to KC-area homeschool families. Many fees are waived, and these deals are made with large families in mind!

“Homeschool Week” is set for Sept. 17-29 this year (not extending to the Friday nights). You can see more details here.

(As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to check our Facebook events page to see what’s available in your area!)

First Day Tradition No. 4: Shopping

Because now is the time for back-to-school deals, some families will take their kids on a trip to the grocery store or mall to purchase fresh supplies.

Bonus tip: Shop during the Missouri Back to School Sales Tax Free Weekend.

Certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers, and other items as defined by the statute, are exempt from sales tax for this time period only.

In 2023, the Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 6.

First Day Tradition No. 5: School pictures

What better time of the year to snap a few photos than when everyone’s gathered together in one place?

One tip is to photograph your child in the same place every year, so that you can look back and see how much they’ve grown.

First Day Tradition No. 6: GROW event (for moms)

These GROW events support all homeschool moms, both seasoned veterans and newbies alike! Enjoy a special evening on July 25 with a light sandwich dinner (included in registration).

Our speaker and workshop will cover mapping and planning your homeschool year, creating a workable rhythm or schedule, choosing the best curriculum for your family’s unique needs, and knowing when to switch curriculum if/when needed.

Tickets are nonrefundable, and space is limited – register before July 21 to save your seat!

First Day Tradition No. 7: DIY decorations

Some enterprising moms will create big banners, such as “Welcome to X Grade!” with craft supplies purchased at local stores.

Another idea is to create homemade badges for your children, depending on which grade they’ll enter.

First Day Tradition No. 8: Family powwow

Just like a New Year’s resolution, only it’s in the summertime before school starts!

Some families find this time especially fruitful for setting goals and expectations, discussing them together at an appointed time and place. It helps to bring out the new school supplies as props!

First Day Tradition No. 9: Homeschool Day at the K

What better way to meet other homeschoolers and just have a good time than a KC Royals game!

Tailgating starts at 4 p.m. Sept. 1. It includes Food, Music, Games and Fellowship. The game starts around 7 p.m. Since it is a Friday, it should have fireworks at the end!

First Day Tradition No. 10: Aug. 21 Meeting for Kansas Homeschoolers (NEW this year)

If you’re a Kansas resident, this event is especially for you! Help us shape the future of homeschooling by joining other families from 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at Indian Creek Public Library Event Space East, 16100 W. 135th St., Olathe, KS 66062.

This meeting will provide new opportunities to:

  • Explore how the KS legislative process works
  • Learn how you and your students can participate in the legislative process 
  • Stay informed on legislation impacting homeschool freedom 
  • Interact with local legislators involved in education policy and leadership 

We have updated this blog post, originally published in July 2014, for timeliness and detail.

Is this your first year homeschooling? 

Check out these great additional resources:

Shanxi Omoniyi

Shanxi Omoniyi (@ShanxiO on Twitter) is MPE's online content director. A homeschool alumna, Shanxi graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in journalism and English. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and nonprofits share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.


  • Nancy M says:

    These are some great ideas!!! I wish I would have thought of the photo one a long time ago and we’ve also moved a lot and so taking the photo in the same place wouldn’t have worked for us. But now I need to get creative and see what we can do this year. I do remember one year my kids stood on a log together youngest to oldest and each leaned out the opposite way holding up a handmade sign with their grade # on it. The boys made theirs using Legos. It was a neat picture and they had fun coming up with their sign. Thanks!

  • Terri says:

    How fun! Thank you for the wonderfully fun ideas for parents and children. It has my imagination thinking even more…

  • Deanna Hanson says:

    Great ideas! We go out to breakfast on our back to school day. And love shopping for school supplies when they go on clearance right after our neighborhood school begins 🙂

  • Diane says:

    Our oldest just finished his homeschool career and we never really had any set traditions. Maybe as my youngest begins his homeschool career, we can start something new. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Shawna says:

    My husband made it a tradition to bring each of us (his three daughters and myself as teacher) a couple of roses each on the first day of school as a sign of his support. The girls always looked forward to it! I’m not sure exactly how to replace that this year as he passed away last January…

    • Todd says:

      What a touching gesture by your husband. I know your girls and you will miss that special remembrance the beginning of each school year. Thank you for sharing this memory. May God find a special way to fill your void and create a new tradition.

    • beth says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. Would you consider doing it yourself for them to keep his memory alive rather than letting it be another void? You know best but it seems like it may be a good thing to do to show them you remember even those small gestures.

  • Tonya says:

    We always dress up for the first day of school and have Dad take our school picture in the schoolroom.
    Then throughout the day, we record the fun things we do, with photos. Some years we start the day with a special breakfast meal…or plan an extra special lunch to celebrate a new year.

    Shanxi…the website is great!! Thank you for serving so well!

    • Shanxi Omoniyi says:

      Thanks so much, Tonya, for the kind words! I’m very grateful to everyone who helped make this new website a reality. Looking forward to this school year!

  • Lori says:

    We skip cracking open the books and go out to breakfast, take pictures and organize the school closet. One the last day of school we go out for lunch. When we have a graduating Senior that year, the graduate gets to choose where to go for end of year lunch….Yes that has included lobster!

  • Jackie says:

    Every year we begin the first day of “school” with some sort of blessing for our neighbors. It began several years ago when my oldest was in preschool. All of the little kids in the surrounding houses were walking to the school bus stops and we went out to bring in empty trash cans and recycling bins for elderly neighbors. Other years we “Jesus Prank” their grandparents friends with baskets of homemade bread and cookies. It’s a great reminder of why we homeschool. Celebrating our freedom to take time to serve others and still receive a great education is how we kick off the new year with a bang!

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