School Rituals for the First Day & Beyond


     One of the mothers I interviewed for The Book of New Family Traditions practices this wonderful tradition of writing inspiring messages in colored chalk for her daughters to find as they walk to school. If your kid only walks to the bus stop, you can still write a note or make a silly drawing.

     There’s another mom in my book who created an instant photo book for her kids the day they began kindergarten: she took photos of them waking up, dressing, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast and boarding the bus. While they were gone, she printed photos on her home printer, pasted them to cardstock, then took them to Office Depot to be laminated and turned into a book. 

     The first day of school is a big deal and celebrating it is a good way to demonstrate to your children that education is valued in your family. All transitions are ripe occasions for ritual and celebration, but the start of school each year is an especially major marker, a rite of passage that gives us an opportunity to think and talk about our children’s growth, progress, aspirations and accomplishments.

     But it’s also important to think about school rituals for the weeks and months to come, rituals that will help keep your children focused. So, take a little time now and think about how you might use ritual to celebrate but also motivate. Like the family in my book that has “Monday Sundaes.” The kids are slow getting started on Monday mornings, so the mom declared that everyone who was dressed and in the kitchen by a certain time would get a sundae, made of frozen yogurt, fruit and nuts. Maybe you want to do something special on Fridays, to welcome the weekend?

     One of the single most important things to consider is study rituals. The earlier you start good ones, the better off your student will be throughout school, and beyond. One of the single smartest things I ever did was declare that studying was the top priority after school, with only a very limited play period and a snack before starting homework. Unlike many rituals that did not stick with my son, I’m happy to say that this ritual is so ingrained at this point, that even in high school, he still does his homework first thing even on a Friday.

     I’ll be coming back periodically with other fun family traditions as the weeks and months go by. Now it’s time to take my son out shopping for new school clothes: probably his least favorite school ritual!

Comments welcome