I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Big Fat List of Back-to-Homeschool Traditions


Just because you don't shove your homeschooled kids onto the big yellow bus on the first-day-of-school, doesn't mean that you can't mark their Day 1 with fanfare. 

I, for one, am all for celebrating milestones. So much so, that I don't just commemorate ONE first day of homeschool around here. I honor FIVE!

That's right. I don't start all of my kids together on the first day of school. I let them each have their own FIRST DAY.

Because doesn't every child deserve to be celebrated?

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I usually start with my youngest one on a Monday. He starts school with all the typical first-day hoopla and has one entire school day all to himself. I only have him do his core subjects like math, language, and reading. Then, on Tuesday, the youngest gets the day off and the next-oldest child has his first day. Wednesday is the start for the third oldest...and so on...until everyone has had a turn of firsts.

Then on the following Monday, we start a regular full day with everyone together doing all the learning. Not only does this give each child a chance to have at least one full day of one-on-one time with me, but it also allows me to slowly ramp up to a slightly more difficult school load each day before I have to play ringmaster to the entire circus the following week. 

Back-to-Homeschool Traditions

If you, too, would like to mark the first day with fun, then check out my big-fat-list of back-to-homeschool traditions! (Be sure to READ the entire list. Not every suggestion is represented by a picture.)

1.  Encourage your kids to make a "What we did this summer" timeline with photos or magazine cutouts.

2.  Take front step photos to mark physical growth from year-to-year. Use a free printable sign or make your own.

3.  Start the morning with a trip to the library to pick out your first family read-aloud of the year.

4.  Make a favorite breakfast or go out to eat.

5.  Wrap up school supplies in fun wrapping paper for the kids to unwrap when school starts.

6.  Conduct a "My favorites" interview with your kids and visit it again at the end of the school year.

7.  Write a fun message on the bathroom mirror reminding your kids how proud you are of them!

8.  Use this set of free printables to create a first-day-of-school notebooking page at the end of the day.

9.  Answer a first-day survey.

10.  Have your kids write themselves a letter to be read the last day of school.

11.  Wrap up a new fiction book for each of your kids.

12.  Homeschool in your PJs.

13.  Present each of your kids with a personalized German Schultute.

14.  Decorate bedroom doors with streamers and balloons the night before the first day, so that your kids can wake up and  "walk into" a new grade the following morning.

15.  Trace his/her hand on interesting paper. Cut it out and save it with traced hands from previous years to watch growth.

16.  Write a special note to each child and leave it on his/her dining room chair before breakfast.

17.  Create a first-day-of-school time capsule to be buried in the backyard and un-earthed on the last day of school. Fill it with summer items that can be used on the very first day of summer break.

18.  Measure your child's height. Revisit the measurement on the last day of school to see how tall he/she has grown.

19.  Hide a few of the new school books around the house and create a series of clues that your kids can use to find them.

20.  Read the same favorite picture book every single year on the first day. Might I suggest This is My Home, This is My School, a picture book written for homeschoolers by a former homeschooler?

21.  Play a favorite board game together at the start of the morning.

22.  Take pictures throughout the day and put together a digital slide show that you all can show to dad when he gets home from work.

23.  Read a few books about what school looks like around the world. You can find some great suggestions in Give Your Child the World.

24.  Skip the books and take a field trip...especially if your first day coincides with the first day of your local school district. Chances are, you'll be the only ones at the museum or park!

25.  End the day with a trip to the ice cream shop.

26.  Use a family "celebration plate" at dinner time to honor each child who had a first day.

The first day of homeschool should be different. It should be special. It should be a time to celebrate the start of something great! 

How will you mark the FIRST DAY this year?

For more great tradition ideas, be sure to check out my First/Last Day Pinterest Board.


  1. What a huge lovely list.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. We always bake cookies on our first day of school.

  3. Yes, thanks again Jamie for being that inspiration for fun and pouring blessings upon my children that I look forward to reading each time I check out your encouraging blog.

  4. This is a wonderful post. I'm a new homeschooler and I am definitely going to use some of these ideas, thank you!

    1. You're welcome, Lily! Glad it can be an encouragement to you.

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  6. Go to the beach!! As everyone else is packing up their cars with backpacks and lunch boxes, pack your car with boogie boards and beach towels! Celebrate!

    1. Yes! I love this and just might have to steal this idea. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Gotta say I LOVE the beach idea as we softly enter into the school routine!
    THANK you for your list, Dawn! And for reminding me to celebrate BIG!!!��

    1. The beach is on my list of first day MUST DOs. Everyone else will be slaving away behind a desk. It's the perfect time to swim.

  8. On the first day of school every year, we take family photos with sparklers. We also take individual kid photos with them holding signs that say their name and grade and then important statements we want them to internalize. Last year's signs said things like: "I am focused. I am courageous. I am a child of God."

    1. What a great idea to include the sayings! We love taking first day photos too. We've written name, age, "grade," and what I want to be when I grow up on a vintage chalk board for several years. It's always fun to go back and look at all the pics to see how they've grown and how their opinions of the future have changed.

  9. Great ideas! Thank you! I am coming up on my first year of homeschooling, and was looking for some ideas on how to make it special.

  10. Yes, a field trip on the first day is a great idea! We've done that at times and have always felt like we were the only ones there--as if the park opened up just for us!