Simple, Fun Back to School Homeschool Ideas 2024

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It’s easy to forget what day, week, or month it is when you’re homeschooling, especially during summer break. If it weren’t for all the first day of school pictures and “Back-to-School” sales,  I probably would miss it altogether!😂 If you’re like me and find yourself scrambling for back to school homeschool celebration ideas come August, this post is for you!

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whiteboard sign says "caution, major learning ahead". Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
Our decor for 2020 seemed fitting, given the pandemic!

Why we celebrate Back to School 

Why would homeschool parents celebrate “Back to School” anyway? Do you need any first day of homeschool traditions if you homeschool year-round (as many families do)? 

Back to Homeschool is a great way to make sure we are documenting and acknowledging each child’s hard work over the last year. Having a specific day to begin a new homeschool year helps create the feeling of a fresh start for many homeschool families. It can also be the day when your child officially moves up to the next grade level.

A back-to-school celebration is a fantastic way to preview the upcoming school year. Kids can look over their new homeschool curriculum and any changes to the school schedule

back to homeschool party. Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
back to homeschool party

How our family celebrates Back to Homeschool

I keep our Back to School celebration pretty simple, with a few fun traditions that I include each year. Scroll down for a list of ideas from fellow homeschool moms, if you’re in a hurry.

If you’re looking for great gift ideas for a fellow homeschool mom, check out my homeschool mom gift guide.

Timing: when to celebrate?

September is a really busy month here in the Pacific Northwest. Homeschool groups and extracurricular activities start up after summer break.

Additionally, when we grew a big garden, we had most of the harvesting and processing in September. So our back-to-school celebration would normally be at the end of September, or even the beginning of October.

A huge harvest of tomatoes.
Tomatoes all get ripe in September in the Pacific Northwest

This year we have two high schoolers and one middle school student who will be attending a virtual public charter school. That means we’ll schedule our family celebration this year around their first day of public school (possibly on Labor Day).

All that to say, choose a time that works for you and your family!

Preparation: keep it simple

Choose a theme and get some basic party supplies and decor (a dollar store has some good options). Last year we did a superhero theme, but other fun options include:

@dinkumtribe I started celebrating Back to Homeschool with my kids as a way to make sure I was documenting and acknowledging the progress each child made each year. I keep our Back to Homeschool celebration pretty simple, with a few key elements that I include each year. #backtohomeschool #homeschoolingmoms #dollartreehiddengems #dollartreefinds2022 #adhdfamilytravel#familytravelcreator#familytraveltiktoker#oregonfamily#pnwfamily #pnwfamilies#oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog#familytravelblog#familytravelblogger#familytravelvlogger#familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #homeschooolfamily #homeschoolideas ♬ Anymore – Pawns or Kings

I use free printables, like a grade and year sign for each child, or sometimes silly store-bought photo props. I also print out an interview with questions that ask about our kids’ favorites and their dreams and goals. It’s an easy way to see how our kids have changed each year. These interviews get put into our family photo yearbook to enjoy later. 

We plan a special breakfast (like waffles with ice cream), or pick up donuts as a special treat. Some families may find it easier to do a special lunch or dinner instead– do what works for your family’s routine!

New school supplies

I set out a small pile of new school supplies for each child at their spot on our family table. Sometimes I also have new books for each child or new clothes.

Bulletin Board with punctuation stickers. Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
Dollar store and free printable decor for our bulletin board.

Our favorite homeschool supplies

All of these homeschool supplies can be found in our Amazon storefront as well.

Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
Here’s our setup from a couple years ago.

Back to Homeschool Party Schedule

On the first day back, we enjoy our yummy breakfast and the kids open up their new things. Then we take a little time to put things away neatly. During breakfast, I ask each child what they would like to learn about in the upcoming year, or what they are most excited about.

@dinkumtribe Easy family favorite breakfast dish: cherry panakuchen (also known as Dutch Babies). #easybreakfastrecipe #easybreakfastidea #easybreakfastforkids #easyfamilymeals #easyfamilyrecipes #breakfastpancakes #hotbreakfast #adhdfamilies #adhdfamilylife #theresalotofkidsinhere #momofmanykids #weloveourbigfam #bigfamiliesoftiktok #bigfamilies #familytravelblogger #cherryrecipe #eggrecipeideas ♬ original sound – dinkumtribe

First Day of Homeschool photo tips

Getting good photos requires time and patience. Each kid gets individual “first day of school photos”, and later we take some sibling shots.  I aim for several photos with their grade sign, as well as some silly, fun pictures too. 

In recent years I’ve also included photos of myself and Brian holding all those grade signs, because teachers should be in homeschool photos too!

mom and dad holding grade signs. Back to School Homeschool Ideas
The teachers!

Pro photo tip: I almost always tell my kids to give me one nice, serious photo, then we will do some silly ones. This usually makes them much more cooperative and helps them be patient with the process.

I usually ask each child to choose a few of their photo props to include. This gives a feel for their personalities in the photos. Some of my favorite memories with our kids involve interests that quickly passed (like Egyptology, mushrooms, or dinosaurs), but I’m glad I have the pictures to remind me!

Girl holding Egyptology book. Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
Our budding Egyptologist – who now prefers to study mushrooms.😂 Kids’ interests change every year!

Video option

Last year I filmed each of our kids answering some of the questions on the yearly interview form. It’s even more fun to have the videos because you can hear how the child’s voice and talking change over time!

Growth Documentation

Years ago, I visited a friend’s house and saw a small section of wall in their kitchen marked up with lines, dates, and names. Every year (or whenever it was obvious that someone had grown substantially taller!) the children and adults would stand with their back to the wall and draw a line marking their height. They would label the line with their name and the date.

Over the years some guests had done it too, so it served as both a guestbook and a growth chart. We are looking forward to doing this in our home once we repaint. The first day of homeschool each year would be a great time to do the measuring!

Alternate suggestion: If the idea of marking directly on the wall bothers you, or if you have to move frequently, you could nail a board to the wall and mark the board instead.

Taking It Slowly

The rest of the day is spent filling out the grade interviews and maybe organizing our school spaces. I don’t plan on any schoolwork for that day, because nothing ruins good photos like ridiculous expectations. 

school interview questions.
Section from one of the previous years’ school interviews

The excitement means that there’s not much brainpower left for actual work to get accomplished, so why fight it? Even public school kids spend the first few days of school learning procedures, finding classrooms and supplies, and so on. It makes sense to plan for the disruptions that we know are going to happen.

I often spend some time helping kids get to set up on the first day of homeschooling. This is a great time to talk through any new curriculum or get logged into any new digital learning tools. 

School supplies and a new book. Back to School Homeschool Ideas.

Starting Homeschool Work/ Lesson Plans

We have done a “soft start” to our homeschooling for the last few years, and I LOVE IT. In short, we don’t jump into full school the day after our celebration. We gear up a little bit at a time, like a juggler adding in one ball, then another. 

The first day we don’t do any school worksheets, then the next few days we start on one or two subjects. By the end of the month, we are up to a full schedule. Learning a new routine for school days takes time, but it starts you off on the right foot for a great school year. 

Waffles and ice cream.

I usually plan to launch changes to our chore system in August and follow that with our new school schedule in September or October. Too many changes at once can be overwhelming, especially for ADHD kids or kids who struggle with anxiety.

Even More Back to School Homeschool Ideas

If you need more suggestions for “first day of homeschool traditions”, here are some fun ideas from other homeschool families.

  • Take a field trip to a fun local destination, or go to a local park
  • Look through old schoolwork or family scrapbooks together to reminisce about previous years
  • Design a homeschool vision board, or let each child create a vision board for the upcoming year
  • Have a scavenger hunt throughout the house for old school supplies and curriculum from the previous year that needs to be stored. Or put the new supplies throughout the house for kids to find!
  • Have a fun dance party together
  • Set up your school room or school area with the new school supplies and curriculum
  • For younger kids, set up tubs or stations where they can play with specific items that are only allowed to be used during homeschool hours
  • Have Homeschool Spirit week: in the first week, have a Crazy Hair day, a pajama day, or a costume day…
boy in front of photo backdrop. Back to School Homeschool Ideas.
“Rattlesnake” in front of photo backdrop.

I hope that sharing our family’s back to school homeschool ideas and traditions has been helpful for you. Please share in the comments any other fun first day of homeschool traditions that you have!

© Copyright 2021 Jennifer D. Warren. UPDATED: August 11, 2022.

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Pinnable image of school supplies and classroom decor. Back to School Homeschool ideas.
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About the author

I’m Jenn Warren, Co-Founder and Content Creator for Dinkum Tribe. I'm a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Jamaica and California, married to my college sweetheart. I've been a missionary kid, pastor’s kid and (former) pastor’s wife. My husband and I traveled as pastors for 12 years throughout the United States and Canada before becoming travel content creators.

I love living in Oregon and exploring new places with my family. We’ve road tripped over 30,000 miles across the United States and Western Canada with our six children since their infancy. Prior to our marriage, I also lived in Spain for a summer and spent another summer in Mexico.

I’ve homeschooled our six children for over 10 years, and served on the board of a homeschool co-op for 4 years. Several members of our family are neurodivergent (gifted, ADHD, cPTSD), and I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to accommodate neurodivergent needs as well as supporting the resultant mental health challenges (anxiety, depression).

I’ve also served as a support group leader and co-director of Pure Life Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports families struggling with sexual addiction.

I write about family travel and road trips, millennial marriage, general parenting, homeschooling, parenting neurodivergent children, grief, and abuse recovery.


  1. I love all the ideas that you have gave me in this post. i have never thought of having a back to school party but my daughter is only 3 however i now have something new to add for when she does start school. thank you sooo much!!!

  2. These are fun ideas….even for kids that aren’t homeschooled:). Thank you for sharing and wish you the best!

  3. Some great ideas here and I live the special breakfast one which I will be implementing. I have a list of questions at the front of each year’s planner that have stayed the same since we started and the answers have changed over the years.

  4. Wow – I love how you kick off the school year. So many great ideas for homeschoolers, and non-homeschoolers alike. I think we’re going to steal some of these ideas for our kid (he’s going to school for the first time this year). I like the dance party idea – making it fun to learn!

    1. Yes, they definitely would work well for non-homeschool families too. Have fun with your little one!

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