Teacher and student in classroom looking at a globe

Back to School...or Something?

It’s that time of year: back to school! 

August and September are traditionally a time of new beginnings and milestones. While this back-to-school season may bring feelings of apprehension and uncertainty (again), we can’t forget to mark this new start and celebrate the possibilities. Use the launch of this new season to encourage and support your kids to approach learning with fun, excitement, and joy — even as the pandemic continues to impact what the school year looks like.

Why is celebration important?

Celebrations boost our well-being. Celebrating the back-to-school season prompts us to pause, focus on the present, express gratitude for what we have, and cherish key milestones and the opportunities in front of us. Celebrations spark joy for our kids, and for us! And, joy can lead to better learning.

Over the past year and a half, many milestones and traditions slipped by or fell off the timeline altogether. But we still found things to celebrate, and this year is no different. Kids will be starting new grades, meeting new teachers, reconnecting with classmates, and tackling new content and ways of learning — and all of that is worth celebrating! 

Elementary students making silly faces


Five ways to celebrate back to school

1) Countdown to School 

In the weeks or days before school starts, use the time to transition your kids from summer back to school. Create a fun calendar and map out the final summer activities you want to do, balanced with the tasks to get ready for school. Practice those earlier wake-up times by adding them to the calendar and easing into that new timing before school starts.

2) New School Supplies

Whether your kids are returning to a school building or learning from home, nothing signals the start of a new school year like new school supplies! Have fun this year and let your kids have some latitude. Out with the old backpacks and lunchboxes, and in with the new. Get a set of new gel pens in fun colors. Select crazy socks or pajama pants if you’re learning from home, or try new fun shoes or a hoodie to wear at school. Don’t forget to add colorful, comfortable masks and hand sanitizer as part of your supply kit.

3) Time Capsule

Compiling a time capsule is a fun family activity to capture the start of the school year, talk about your goals and dreams, and select artifacts that represent your life today. Open the time capsule at the end of the year, or the start of the next school year, and reflect on the past year and how you’ve each changed and grown.

4) Back-to-School Breakfast 

Ease into the new schedule and learning with a special breakfast and full stomach. Plan the meal together, create a playlist, and start with a festive atmosphere. Be sure to set out everything you need the night before to help it go more smoothly.

5) The School Picture

Don’t forget the annual first-day-of-school photo on the porch or in front of the classroom, wherever it may be this year. Yes, even the older kids have to participate. Have some fun and stage the photo with silly props or signs, maybe with and without masks. 


Celebrations, big and small, can bring the comfort and normalcy to our kids’ lives that they need right now. Find the joy, and keep the party going all year long! Comment below and let us know how you plan to celebrate the start of the new school year, or share your back to school photos in our Facebook group, 2021 Parenting!



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Author: Jennifer Herrington

Educator, working parent and lifelong learner.

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