Back To School 2: Creating Good Memories

Traditions, Routines and Expectations

Starting pre-school, primary school or secondary school can be exciting and frightening at the same time and different children will approach these milestones in life in different ways. Even after one has settled into a school, each year after the summer holidays the start of the new school year looms and a change of teacher, new subjects and more homework can make a child apprehensive or look forward to new challenges. Parents and teachers can help this annual change by giving children routines that can give a child security and a framework to work by, create family and classroom traditions that are looked forward to and which are looked back on with fondness, and give the child an idea of what to expect and to aim for.

Lianna Wilson, MA, and Sarah Straus, MS suggest a few ways to do this:

  • Validation: Let your child know that his nervous or apprehensive feelings about the start of school are normal…
  • Morning Routines: A common change that occurs as we begin the school year is a new morning routine. To help your child be successful, discuss what his/her morning routine will look like during the school year…
  • Homework: Another transition that can be rough after a summer break is homework completion.. Like the morning routine, providing your child with a structured schedule can help him/her stay focused and motivated…
  • Bedtime: As with the morning routine, having a night time schedule can assist in creating a structure for your child…

New School Year Family Traditions

Many families have the same first day traditions but many may add their own twist on things. Here are some:

  • Taking photos of their children in new school uniforms or new clothes. Often when families look back at these photos they may laugh at the jumpers that are too big and leaving room to grow, facial expressions or hairstyles. As many parents do put these photos on social media, parents have been recently advised to cover up the school badge and not to give any clues of where a child might live or which school they go to.
  • Make a scrapbook or album for each school year. Photos, awards, artwork etc can be put into these. Teachers often do this too.
  • Buying school supplies and uniforms/clothes. Make it a family shopping trip for shoes, school clothes, bags, lunch-boxes, pencil-cases with crayons, markers, rubbers/erasers, pencils, rulers etc. Let children make choices and maybe enjoy a drink and cake out. (Of course not everyone can buy new but you can show your children where to get bargains and how to be creative.)
  • Discuss school lunches and what healthy choices they can make and maybe allow a small treat that fits in with the school guidelines.
  • Have a special tea/ dinner for when they come back to school after the first day.
  • Make a playdate/ time with a friend for the first weekend after school has started.


Parents and teachers should have a pep talk at the beginning of the school year with children and explain that they just want them to do their best and lay down what they expect in terms of behaviour, setting personal goals and their attitude towards any challenges. Show them you are ready to listen and that if they have any worries they can be discussed.

Time Of Year

Enjoying seasonal things when the school year starts can create good memories for that time of year. In the northern hemisphere we are heading into autumn/fall and in the southern hemisphere they are heading for spring so seasonal traditions should be adapted accordingly. Here is a September calendar that has some great suggestions for those entering into autumn/fall.

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