Celebrate a New School Year with Special Traditions


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Heading back to school each year is an important event for kids and parents. Many families find that back-to-school traditions help ease the transition from summer to school. Traditions can be as simple as school-supply shopping together or sharing a special treat.

Shelly Hummel, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Align Counseling in Wake Forest, says traditions are important to commemorate throughout the year, and back-to-school time is no exception. "Back-to-school traditions are a family tradition, and any ritual is a shared experience which strengthens families because they give everyone a sense of belonging," she says.

Traditions can also help relieve stress for children. "If they have any anxiety about the new school year, having a tradition that they can count on will help relieve the anxiety," Hummel says.

Another benefit to making the new school year special is it communicates the importance of education to your kids. "I think by having a routine each year, that it makes it a special day and lets her know how important school is to our family," says Chavone Robinette, mom of a rising third grader in Cornelius, N.C.

Starting family traditions

Traditions can either evolve over time or be something you specifically create. Carmen White of Whitsett, N.C., wanted to initiate back-to-school traditions with her son that will continue throughout his school years, since the idea of sending him off to kindergarten this year makes her nostalgic.

"While he is excited about starting school this year because it is his first time, I hope in the future when he is not as excited about school, that knowing we will do fun things for back-to-school will help," White says. She asked her son to help create the traditions, because she felt they would be more meaningful to him if he was involved in starting them.

Some parents also continue family traditions from their childhood. Robinette says when she was growing up, her mom took a picture of her sitting on the front porch of their house on the first day of school — a tradition she keeps to this day with her daughter.

"I have a picture of me sitting on the front porch before school and I remember how special it felt," Robinette says. She takes a photo of her daughter each year in the same spot and plans to continue this tradition because she wants her daughter to feel as special as she did.

Marking the passage of time

Another way to keep memories of a new academic year's start is to videotape a conversation with your child on the first day of school every year. Not only will you be able to see the physical changes in your child as she grows up, but asking the same questions also charts other changes. You'll remember that Diane was her best friend in third grade and her favorite outfit featured a green skirt with a watermelon on it.

Jacque Kipps, Wake Forest mom of three, charts her children's height on the doorway to see how tall they have grown since the previous fall. The tradition started because her oldest son liked having his height marked at his grandparents' house in Kentucky and wanted to start recording it at home.

"Now on the first day of school each year, we measure their height and measure the difference since last year," Kipps says.

Another idea is to record your child's handprint at the beginning of each school year on a plate, stepping stone or piece of paper to highlight annual growth.

Back-to-school shopping

Since many families purchase clothes and school supplies for a new academic year, creating traditions surrounding back-to-school shopping is a natural ritual. Parents with multiple kids can take each child shopping separately to spend time together and also enjoy a special lunch or treat with each child.

Another tradition that hails from Europe is to give your kids a special gift before they head back to school. Ideas include special supplies for homework, something to wear the first day, or even personalized coupons for things they will appreciate, such as staying up late on the weekend, getting out of a dreaded chore or spending special time with mom or dad.

Planning a get-together

Stacy Adkins of Graham, N.C., helps her second-grade daughter celebrate the start of another school year by hosting a pirate-themed party for her new classmates, classmates from previous grades and any other special friends. Since her daughter attends year-round school, she throws the party in July to coincide with the start of her track, and distributes invitations at meet-the-teacher night before school.

"It helps my daughter because she starts the new year by knowing many of her classmates, and it also helps break the ice for us to get to know her friends' parents," Adkins says.

Sharing a special meal or snack

A simple way to mark the day is to share the same meal or treat on the first day of school each year. Robinette says her family always starts the first day of school cooking bacon together for breakfast. White plans to take her son to his favorite pancake restaurant before the bell rings on the first day of school.

A welcome-home celebration with cupcakes or other treats at the bus stop or at home also makes the day special. Teri Woods of Raleigh enjoys ice cream after school with her daughter, who will enter fourth grade this year.

"Ice cream on the first day of school is our fun tradition to celebrate a new year of learning," Woods says. "I believe it is important for my daughter to know I believe she will have an awesome year."

Jennifer Gregory is a Triangle-based writer and mother of two kids and three dogs.

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Telephone: 191-990-25432
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
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