5 Ways to Celebrate the New School Year, No Matter How it’s Starting

A new school year encompasses every feeling—the excitement of new friendships, the nerves of meeting a new teacher, the sadness of summer ending, the hope of what could be this year as we all restart, refocus, reorganize. 

A new school year encompasses every sense—the smell of an elementary school on open house night, the feel of a sturdy new backpack as you zip it shut, the taste of the first cafeteria lunch, the sound of voices filling learning spaces and classmates catching up in the hallway, and the sight of shoes without mud stains, scuffs, and wear that will come before we know it. 

This year is different. 

All the feelings and all the senses just aren’t the same this time. 

No matter how your children are moving into the new school year, whether it’s in-person, remote, homeschool learning, or any hybrid of them, this year will not be normal for any of us. However, our kids deserve to celebrate and honor the start of a new school year. The way we, as families, set the tone and the attitude as we move into this school year make a huge impact on how our children move into their role as students. 

Photo Credit: Winnie Bruce, @stopthespread

Here are a few ways to kick off the year, however yours may be starting, on a positive note! 

  1. Have an open house.
    Many families are working hard to set aside or create an area for remote learning. As a kitchen cabinet is cleaned out to make room for laptops, as a spare bedroom is reorganized to fit desks, as a toy room is cleared to be filled with construction paper, scissors, and math manipulatives, or as a dining room table gets transformed into ‘learning central,’ honor that transformation. Have your children get dressed to impress, make some punch and cookies, and allow your children to peruse their learning space and get comfortable with where they will likely be spending a lot of time.
  2. Keep taking those “1st Day of School” pictures.
    Put on that new back to school outfit, make the sign saying the teacher’s name and what your child wants to be when they grow up, maybe even swing on that backpack. For many, kids aren’t even leaving the house for school, but the first day is important no matter where it takes place.
  3. Make your kids a back to school gift bag.
    A lot of those first few days of school, where everything in the classroom is new and special, are not taking place this year. However, parents can get their children well equipped with a new set of markers or a special pencil. Don’t forget to include a new book or activity book!
  4. Have a special breakfast on the first day or a “school year eve” special dinner the night before.
    Having a picnic in the backyard, fancy sparkling juice, or homemade waffles can go a long way in making this new school year feel important. Plan the meal with your kids, let them help cook it, or serve them like a restaurant would, making the kids feel like special and honored guests.
  5. Keep human connection as a priority.
    One of the most significant things our kids will be missing at the start of the school year is socialization and relationship building with others. Feeling like an important member of a classroom or school community is at the heart of what the beginning of the school year is all about. Come up with ways, as a family, to stay connected to loved ones and teachers as the school year kicks off. Your children could create a few interview questions to send to their teachers to get to know them a little better as unique individuals. Your family could make a care package for the new teachers you all will be working with this year. To help your friends and loved ones start the new school year off right, your children could make handwritten cards to mail or drop off.

This school year is going to be tough on us all. The more we can hold on to special moments, positive attitudes, and sprinklings of joy into an unprecedented difficult and strange beginning to this school year, the better. 

Intentionally placing positivity on our minds and hearts will go a long way this school year. For more school-related content, check out Back to School Essentials for 2020 or Quick and Easy Tips for Back to School This Year.

Kristin Hundt
Kristin Hundt is a fervent teacher, learner, and global citizen. Spending more than twelve years as a middle school teacher, she is currently taking a leave from the classroom to explore her passions and stay at home with her children. She is a world-traveler in training, writer, music and photography enthusiast, and semi-professional book pusher. Kristin loves nothing more than to go on 'adventures' with her husband and four young boys learning about and serving the world around them.


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