We just received the return-to-school plan for my elementary-aged kids. They’ll be wearing masks at school, even at recess. They’ll be getting temperature checks in the parking lot by me, witnessed by teachers. At first, this is all going to feel pretty weird.
I know teachers and school administrators have done their best. I know fellow parents are doing what’s best for their families given their own unique circumstances. No choice is right for everyone. No choice is easy. One thing I know for sure is the getting-ready-for-school stress that used to bog me down in the mornings now seems a bit trivial. What I would give to go back to worrying about mismatched socks or whether they brushed their teeth.
So as we head into what will be a very different school year, we wanted to share a few traditional and reimagined ideas to mark the moment and make it feel special, even when everything feels far from normal. Read on for our suggestions.
Pack Their Lunch Box for an Outdoor Picnic Before School Begins
This can essentially work like a trial run for the school lunchroom (or classroom) for kids attending in-person learning for the first time. You can observe whether they struggle with their lunch boxes, water bottles, or anything else and help them practice to be as self-sufficient as possible. Your child’s teacher will probably thank you too.
Create a Cute Clean Kit
At this point, you’ve probably found cute kids’ masks and may be crossing your fingers that your kid will wear their mask as required. Masks are one new school supply we didn’t envision buying last year. Creating a clean kit that can live beside their pencil case at school can store essentials like hand sanitizers and wipes, and show off their style like our Trapper Keeper days of yore.
Make School Supply Labeling an Event
Additionally, the sharing of school supplies in classrooms may not be happening this year. So you need to label everything. Get your kids to help label their school supplies with permanent markers (while supervised) or sticker labels for the year.
Let Them Pick a Back-to-School Outfit
I remember buying shoes for back-to-school as a big moment as a kid. We’d go to the Stride Rite store and pick out a pair of kicks to (hopefully) last through the school year. Even if you’re homeschooling and your kids could essentially wear their PJs and slippers all day, it could be fun to pick out some new play clothes (or new pajamas) to note the transition to the school year.
Take the First Day of School Pics
However your kids start the school year, you’re going to want the first day of school photo. It’s a moment you’ll want to remember, even if they’re wearing their pajamas or a face mask.
Capture Their Thoughts About the Year Ahead
Ask them how they’re feeling about school. What are they looking forward to? What are their wishes for the year? Who are they excited to see? What worries do they have about school? You could capture their thoughts on a chalkboard sign, on paper, or in a video interview. Plus, it’s always fun to include fun facts like their teacher’s name, their height, and what they want to be when they grow up.