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40 back-to-school quotes to inspire students for the year ahead

Calm your kid’s first-day jitters with these funny and motivational sayings.

And just like that, it's nearly time for kids to head back to school.

While a new year promises new learnings, friendships and fun, it can be tricky to motivate your kids to make the switch from vacation to school mode — especially when the summer sun is still shining. Luckily, these encouraging back-to-school quotes from beloved authors, political figures, celebrities and thought leaders will give them the nudge they need.

Start their school year off on a great note by sneaking an inspirational message or two inside their lunchbox for a mid-day pick-me-up. Or if they're buying lunch on day one, then simply text a few of these quotes — motivational, funny or a mix of the two — throughout the day as a reminder that you're cheering them on from afar.

In the midst of packing their backpacks and back-to-school snacks, read through these words of wisdom on the value of education, working together, respecting teachers and other important themes that'll carry them through school and beyond.

  • “You don’t just luck into things as much as you’d think you do. You build by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.” — Barbara Bush
  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” — Dr. Seuss.
  • “School is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” — Lon Watters
  • “You must do the things you think you cannot do." — Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “You can learn something every day if you pay attention.” — Ray LeBlond.
  • “Think about every problem, every challenge we face. The solution starts with education.” — George H.W. Bush
  • “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." — Albert Einstein
  • “Our goal must be decency and respect for every human we encounter.” — Oprah Winfrey
  • "Education doesn’t make us smarter. It makes us whole.” — Jill Biden
  • “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” — Dan Rather
  • “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” — Margaret Mead
  • "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." — Nelson Mandela
  • “Nothing prevents boredom like a good book." — Dave Pilkey
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  • “Our passion is and always should be to make life better.” — Martha Stewart
  • “I’ve always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school. Firsts are best because they are beginnings.” — Jenny Han, "To All the Boys I've Loved Before"
  • “Knowledge — that is, education in its true sense — is our best protection against unreasoning prejudice and panic-making fear, whether engendered by special interest, illiberal minorities or panic-stricken leaders.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” — R.L. Stine
  • “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” — Aristotle
  • “There’s more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney
  • “Intelligence plus character — that is the true goal of education.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “The road to, here and everywhere on earth, begins in the classroom.” — Hubert Humphrey.
  • “The more that you read, the more things you know, the more learn, the more places you’ll go." — Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"
  • “Encourage kids to be creative without worrying about being perfect.” — Dav Pilkey
  • “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X
  • “There is no single recipe for success. But there is one essential ingredient: passion.” — Martha Stewart
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  • “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” — Brian Herbert
  • “The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.” — Gerald Ford
  • “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.” — Oprah Winfrey
  • “Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them.” — Josie Bisset
  • “Our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children.” — Walt Disney
  • “Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open.” — James Dewar
  • “Information may be free, an education is priceless.” — Marie Forleo
  • “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” — G.K. Chesterton
  • “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — A.A. Milne, "Winnie the Pooh"
  • “The most important day of a person’s education is the first day of school, not graduation day.” — Harry Wong
  • "Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody." — Jane Austen, "Mansfield Park"
  • “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.” — Michelle Obama, “Becoming”
  • “A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” — Joyce Meyer
  • “Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful, it’s being terrified but you jump anyway.” — Taylor Swift