Back to School…or Something. It’s Time to Celebrate?
by Jennifer Herrington
Season’s greetings! It’s that time of year: back to school…or something! It’s time to celebrate? Yes, it is! Stay with me here. While this back to school season is unlike any other and may bring some feelings of apprehension and uncertainty, we can’t forget to mark this new start and celebrate the possibilities. We could all use a little party, right? We can use the launch of this new season to encourage and support our kids to approach learning with fun, excitement, and joy, even during a pandemic. August/September is traditionally a time to celebrate new beginnings and milestones. Out with the old backpacks, don’t even look in last year’s lunch box sitting in that closet since March, and in with the new. Let’s not lose the opportunity to mark the transition with some fun.
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 the opportunities in front of us, and cherish key milestones and things that we value in our lives. Celebrations spark joy for our kids, and for us! And, joy can lead to better learning.
Over the past few months, many milestones have slipped by or fallen off the timeline all together. It’s hard for us. It’s hard for our kids. But, remember: We can still find things to celebrate. Kids will be starting new grades, meeting new teachers, reconnecting with classmates, and tackling new content and ways of learning.
How can you bring some fun to this celebration?
- Countdown to School. In the weeks or days before school starts, whatever form it takes, use the time to transition your kids from summer to back-to-school. Create a fun calendar and map out the last summer activities you want to do, s’mores, anyone?, balanced with the tasks to get ready for school. You might even want to practice those earlier wake-up times by adding them to the calendar and easing into it before school starts.
- New School Supplies. Whether your kids are returning to a school building in some form or learning from home, nothing signals the start of a new school year like new school supplies. Have some fun this year and let your kids have some latitude. Get a set of new gel pens in fun colors. Select crazy socks or pajama pants for learning at home. Wrap in the preparation of items like face masks and hand sanitizer as just a part of this “new normal” supply kit.
- Time Capsule. While many of us might want to go back in time to “before corona,” a time capsule can be a fun family activity to capture the start of the school year, talk about things and goals we are looking forward to, and select artifacts that represent our 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 we’ve changed and grown.
- 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.
- The School Picture. Don’t forget that annual picture on the porch or in front the classroom, wherever that may be this year. Yes, even the older kids have to participate. Have some fun and stage the photo with silly props or signs with and without masks.
And, keep the party going throughout the year! Celebrations of things, big and small, bring a comfort and normalcy to our kids’ lives that they need right now. Find the joy as a family. There’s still lots to celebrate.