Frugal Back to School Traditions

Written by contributor Toni Anderson of The Happy Housewife

When they grow up children might not remember their science curriculum or how many spelling words they spelled correctly. Traditions however, when carried on throughout the years, give children wonderful memories and strengthen family relationships.

Traditions don’t have to be expensive, there are numerous ways to celebrate the beginning of another school year without dipping into the college fund.

Class Photo

Most children love to have their picture taken and it is fun to look back on previous class photos and see how everyone is growing. If possible  have everyone stand in the same location each year and in the same order. The uniformity of the yearly photos highlights the changes!

Growth Chart

Photo by The Happy Housewife
Another fun way to celebrate a new school year is to measure each child. We usually measure the kids several times a year because they are always excited to see how much they have grown since the first day of school.

New School Supplies

Photo by The Happy Housewife

As a frugal homeschooler I tend to reuse as many resources as possible. This means my children will often use books, scissors, crayons and other supplies over and over again. Each year I purchase a few special items for each child, it could be something as simple as a notebook in their favorite color or a new set of colored pencils.

Special Breakfast

Photo by The Happy Housewife

A special breakfast is a great way to start the first day of homeschool. It could be your child’s favorite breakfast item or you could simply make pancakes in special shapes or serve whipped cream on their waffles.

Field Trip List

Photo by The Happy Housewife

Let your children brainstorm field trip ideas for the upcoming year. This is a great way to learn more about your child’s interests and allow them to be part of the planning. Field trips don’t have to be expensive. Many museums offer homeschool days and dollar days, take advantage of these specials and enrich your child’s education with field trips.

Half Day

Photo by The Happy Housewife

Celebrate the first day with a half day of school. Work on academics in the morning and then in the afternoon watch a special movie, go to the park, or have a read-a-thon.

Creating homeschool traditions is simple and inexpensive. It takes a little thought and planning and creates lasting memories for your children.

What are some of your family’s back to homeschool traditions?

About Toni

Toni is a military wife and stay at home(schooling) mom to seven amazing kids. In her free time she enjoys writing about cooking, saving money, homeschooling, DIY projects and more on The Happy Housewife.


  1. I love the class photo idea, I always forget!!! Our first week back in school is actually a trial week, so lots of fun and a “let’s see how we go” attitude… It really helps to know that it’s just a planning week to see that everyone knows what they are doing when and what I expect of them. Not to mention how to get everything into a time slot… And training little summery outdoor spirits that it may be time for some seat work!!! I make sure we do all the fun stuff and all the optional extra’s including outings and lots of nature note booking and heaps of the great outdoors!!!
    se7en’s latest post: The Week That Was – 4.5…

  2. I love these ideas, especially the breakfast, fieldtrip and growth chart. We homeschool year round, so our years have not been separate. However, I could see doing this for the new year or a new season. Thanks for sharing.
    NoorJananHomeschool’s latest post: Our Family Circle – floor time

  3. For the past three years we have been calling it our “Not back to school day” on the first day of Public School our family along with other homeschool families get together at Chuck E Cheese to celebrate. It’s nice because we get the whole place to ourselves.

    • i *love* this idea – so fun 🙂

    • I love this idea! This is our first year homeschooling (pre-k) and unfortunately I am working full time right now so we are doing school in the evenings. But the plan is for us to change that situation in the near future and as the girls get older I think they will love a “not going back to school” day, especially if we stick to a year round schooling schedule like I plan.

      • They do this in my neck of the woods too, but a potluck at the park. My grubs are still too young for “official” homeschooling (2 and almost 1), but I can’t wait to join the others there soon. 🙂

  4. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing! I didn’t realize some museums have homeschooling days..we don’t have a 2nd vehicle, but when the time comes for us to get one I’ll ask around the local museums!
    Savannah’s latest post: 5 Months Old!

  5. I always take a first day of school picture before school, and we go out for ice cream after school
    This year I think we’ll end school a little bit early and walk to Dairy Queen 🙂

  6. I like to have the kids decorate their own paper for the cover of their new binder every year. I provide the supplies and let them go to town. My only requirement is they have their name, school year, and grade visible somewhere on their paper.
    Suanna’s latest post: My Memories Suite – Review and Giveaway

  7. Wonderful post! We homeschool year round, with short breaks throughout the year. It’s fabulous to have some great ideas like this to make the start of our next year standout special 🙂

  8. One thing I would like to do as the kids get older is to have a “moving up” ceremony. I figure we’d have family and friends over for dinner and celebrate each child’s new grade level. I’d like to give the kids certificates of achievement and some school supplies with the next level on it (like pencils that say “___ grader’s are the best” ).

  9. What great ideas! I wish I still had kids to school! We usually started back with 2 or 3 subjects the 1st week and then jumped full on the next week.
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: When life throws you off balance

  10. This our first “official” homeschooling year. We are going to have hamburgers and homemade peppermint candy icecream. (The icecream will stick as the tradition.)
    We are going to do the class picture – love the idea of doing it in the same place, thankyou.
    Dad is going to buy a few new school supplies as a surprise.
    And finally, I will make waffle iron cookies as a surprise snack.

  11. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.
    Heidi’s latest post: Homeschool Curriculum Reviews

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