Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ritual Roundup - Start of the School Year

As I have shared in this space before, one of the tasks that I take very seriously - and most enjoy - as a parent is creating and maintaining rituals to celebrate the little and big moments of everyday life with my family.  One of those days that is naturally full of excitement and that I try to make just a little bit more special is the first day of school.  This is an event that is just full of possibility when it comes to creating rituals.  Although school has started in many places already, in our area kids don't go back until Tuesday.  With the first day of school just around the corner, back to school rituals are front and center on my mind.

Before we even get to the first day of school, one annual ritual that we have engaged in ever since the big kids' preschool days coincides with our school supply shopping.  As much as ordering pre-assembled school supply packages from school or shopping at night on my own are attractive options from the perspective of getting it done quickly and easily, each summer this task is purely a family affair.  In addition to the kids choosing their own school supplies, each child also sponsors a local student through our YMCA branch who might not otherwise be able to start their school year with all of the supplies that they need. The kids really enjoy shopping for another child ("Oh Mom, I think that 'K' would LOVE this backpack!") and it is a great service opportunity that is easy for the children to participate in and, unlike donating money, they can really understand their contribution.

E2B, Miss Intrepid, and Princess Wonder preparing to turn in their donated backpacks and supplies for M, J, and K.

Another ritual that we engage in is to make a special first-day-of-school treat for all of the children and their siblings at the bus stop (last year there were 30 students plus a number of younger siblings not yet in school).  Two years ago when E2B started kindergarten I made fruit kabobs.  Last year I made the pretzel "pencils" pictured below.  I was also reminded how quickly people, children in particular, can attach to rituals like these when a neighbor confided that her daughter said she wasn't planning to eat breakfast that morning.  Her little one - also entering the first grade like E2B - said she just knew that I would have made a morning treat despite the fact that I hadn't told her I planned to do so and had only made something one year before.  Sometimes we inadvertently start rituals and traditions not realizing that this is what they are destined to become (though that was my plan here).

These were a great "make ahead" treat and froze well.

For this year I have been considering Oreo cheesecake truffles, though I worry about sugaring the kids up too much on their way to school.  Or maybe I'll try some variation of these treat bags.  I'm open to other ideas if anyone has them to share.

Last, but certainly not least from the children's perspective, is that we parents have an ice cream social set up for the kids once they get off the bus that afternoon.  It is a nice little treat and the kids seem to enjoy the party atmosphere as they unwind - and share their excitement about - their first day back to school. In fact, this ice cream social is what inspired our bigger last day of school celebration.

So I ask you, what start of the school year rituals do you remember and cherish from your own childhood?  If you have kids now, is there anything special that you do to prepare for or celebrate the start of a new school year?

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."  ~Clay P. Bedford


  1. Brittany,

    How about homemade granola bars? Not too much sugar, some protein and fiber to tide them through until lunch...


  2. I love the school-related theme for the treats! The pencils are ADORABLE!

  3. Britt- I do a school bus cake for an after-school treat. I bake to banana bread loaves and make some cream cheese icing that I color yellow. Here's a link to something similar so you can get an idea of how it looks:

    Have fun with whatever you do!

  4. Brittany,
    What a good idea, treats for the kids! Your "pencils" were so cute! That is a wonderful thing you and your children do! It's never to soon to learn to give to others.
    Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

  5. I remember my mom helping us make a special lunch for the first day back. She would buy our favorite lunch meat or cookies and make it really special. We would always get a little note too. I think back to school traditions and rituals are a great way to get kids excited about going back to school. Thanks for the great post.