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5 Ways to Get Excited about the 2020 Back to School Season

by Justine Haemmerli September 02, 2020

A Back to School Unlike Any Other


As we gear up for the 2020 back to school season, still in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, things continue to be strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes a bit scary. If you’re a parent, you might be struggling with uncertainty around whether you’re making the right choice for your kids as you decide between sending them to school, keeping them at home, or trying a hybrid option.

There is no correct answer, and it’s OK to feel unsure about your choices, because it’s hard to make confident decisions in an unprecedented global situation with constantly changing information, moving targets, and unclear expectations!

The numbers do show that for the majority of American kids and their families, this will be a back to school experience unlike any other. According to recent studies, 75% of students will be doing virtual or hybrid schooling, meaning that not only will our school experiences be different, but so will the tingling excitement of back to school prep, and the entire ecosystem of the autumn whose tone, rhythms, and routines are so braided together with the start of a new school year.

Specialness & Ceremony


Even though the current circumstances are incredibly difficult, there is still much to celebrate, honor, and get excited about during the 2020 back to school season.


Especially for our kids, it’s so important to help them feel proud, energized, and positive about the school year ahead - even when there might be a lot of disappointment and uncertainty in the air.

Just like any holiday, the back to school season is something we look forward to every year, with its own traditions, customs, and familiarity.

This year, for many of us the things that we look forward to and love about this time of year have been cancelled, postponed, or changed. Reclaiming those rituals and ceremonies of fall and back to school goodness is normalizing and healing. So this list is going to focus on ways that you can create some feelings of specialness, ritual, and ceremony with your kids to help this Back to School 2020 Season feel grounding and joyful, despite the current circumstances.


If you'd like to watch a video about making the 2020 Back to School Season as enjoyable as possible, check out the video below on the 7 Ways to Enjoy Back to School 2020. If not, skip to the section below the video.


Here are five things to do this 2020 Back to School Season to help your kids - and you! - feel excited about the year to come.

#1: Let Them Try a New Hairstyle!

Girl with New Hairstyle

Whether it’s cutting bangs (sorry Brad Mundo!), dyeing their hair, or even just getting a clip-on unicorn extension for a little one, there’s something about a new hairdo that goes with a new school year like peanut butter and jelly. This is something your kid can enjoy and show off whether they’re going in to school or doing it virtually.


And if it goes badly, they’re allowed to wear a hat at home-school more than school-school, right?

#2: Get Back to School Supplies, even if School is Your Dining Table

Back to School Supplies Pencils Paintbrushes

A dear friend posted a first day of school photo of her beautiful daughter, barefoot and leaning against the railing of the stoop staircase outside their front door, with a caption saying ‘ you don’t need new school shoes when the classroom is your kitchen table!’.


While it was an adorable and sweet picture, it also got me thinking. I don’t know about you, but I still go bananas for new pens. Like, very excited, extremely thrilled, disproportionately overjoyed when I see that those silky, bright papermate packs are on sale at Staples.

Even if your kiddo is not going back to physical school this fall, there is something ceremonial and special about buying even a new folder, pen, or backpack.


So, even though times are wacky and the classroom might be your dining room, I’m going to go ahead and encourage you to get your kid something symbolically back to schooly, just for the hell of it. If they’re doing virtual school, you could get a poster to have on the wall behind them for zoom sessions, a new pillow for the dining chair they’ll be sitting and working from, or even a fun coloring book to use when they’re taking a break from school (or during zoom sessions - I always find it easier to focus when I’m doodling, to be honest!).

You don’t have to break the bank, and you can get things they’ll use regardless of their school pathway; a new notebook can’t stay blank for long, it’s a physical law of nature.


If you’re looking for inspiration around fun things to get for back to virtual school, here are three lists with some excellent suggestions:


#3: Create Goals for the Rest of 2020


Even though these are uncertain times, life moves forward - and there is something healing and important about not throwing away our dreams, plans, and goals despite the difficulties in the world around us. I always think of back to school season as the real start of the new year, more so even than January 1st, and I love making “resolutions” in September.


It also aligns beautifully with the holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, where we contemplate the year behind us and look ahead to the year stretching forward at our feet.


You have about 16 weeks left of this year - what do you hope to feel, shift, or create during this time?


If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, a tool like our Clarity Deck can be incredibly helpful in getting your ideas to flow, and helping you to hear your own ideas and wisdom more clearly.


For an activity like this, I would suggest pulling three topic cards, and for each one writing down what you’d like to shift or grow in that area of your life. You can then pull a Question Card for each one, and use the question you chose to deepen your thinking and writing about your goal for that area of your life.


This is an activity you can also do with your kids, or as a family - you can each choose a Topic Card, and as a family you can create a goal for that area of your life together, and write the ideas on a big piece of paper you hang in your kitchen for all to see.

#4: Make a Fall Activity List


There is so much to look forward to this season, and now more than ever we need some concrete things to get excited about and enjoy! Sit down with your kid(s) and come up with a list of 5-10 things you’re excited about this fall. They can be big or small - think apple picking, eating a cider donut, riding a bike in a favorite park when the trees change color, making s’mores one Friday night, jumping in a pile of leaves, designing a Halloween costume…Let your kid take the lead and share all the little and big things they look forward to in this season.

Feeling Stuck for Fun Things to Brainstorm?

There’s a possibility that your child’s new school setup - if it’s virtual or hybrid - might allow for a bit more movement and flexibility during the week, and that if your work schedule allows, there could be opportunities to do some of the things on the list during the week as a treat, while places are emptier.


It can also give you a great list of things to suggest they do when school isn’t in session and you’re working remotely, so you have a backup plan against boredom full of things that you know they love.

#5: Create a Regular Friend Gathering


One of the things that’s been hardest over the past six months is the loss of regular friend time -both for us, and for our kids. Many parents I’ve spoken to have been letting their kids spend way more time on their phones and tablets over these past few months, for two reasons: one is that they want to help them stay connected to their own friends, and the other is that with the demands of work and schooling, sometimes we need to bring in what my best friend calls the Third Parent (aka tv or a tablet) to help provide some distraction and engagement.


At the same time, every single one of these parents has expressed to me a concern that their kids are just zoning out on electronics way too much, and while they want to curb the habit, they also don't want to cut their kids off from social interaction even more than they already are.

A happy medium could be helping your kid to have a regular weekly, or bi-weekly, friend gathering.


You can organize this with other parents if your kids are small, or help your older child plan something they can invite their friends to. Encourage them to think of a reason for the gathering, or a theme; maybe they get together to watch a show they all love, or to learn a new YouTube/TikTok dance together, play a game, or even have a virtual dinner party, depending on their interests. I would encourage you to think of parties that require a bit of prep, so the kids prepare things ahead of time - like making popcorn for a watching party, cooking a dish for the dinner gathering, or having a different member of the group pick a dance to learn each week. This builds it out into something more special and intentional, gives your kids more to look forward to, and naturally creates some learning and engagement opportunities beyond the hour or so they're hanging out with their friends.


This is something that would also be great for you to do with yourself, and your own friends!

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing and planning something, don’t stress - we have a free Virtual Friend Circle Guide you can download that walks you step by step through how to create something easy yet special you and your friends can look forward to each week.


Since we’re all starting into screens endlessly, and folks are being asked to attend almost 20% more meetings than before the pandemic, it’s easy to forgo a group zoom or call because of screen fatigue. Doing something that is special and different, but without it being a heavy lift, can be just the antidote.


There you have it lovey - five things for you to do to get in the back to school season, even if it feels otherwise indistinguishable from the last six months of Mondays you’ve been swimming through! In all seriousness, we hope this 2020 back to school season is a peaceful and happy one for you and your family, that your kids are excited for the transitions and fresh starts ahead, and that you stay well, too.


If you’re looking for more ideas to stay grounded during this strange and hectic time, and ways to support your kid’s mental health as they navigate these new waters, head on over to read our 10 Ways to Support Mental Health (yours and your kid's) During Covid-19 Back to School Season.


It’s a resource-packed two part blog post, and we’ve got a ton of really amazing suggestions there for ways that you can stay positive, focused, and balanced during this season of life - as well as things to do as a family, and for your child, to help them process the complicated and various emotions that will come up as this 2020 back to school season asks some big things of them.

BLOG POST SUMMARY

  • If you’re a parent, you might be struggling with uncertainty around whether you’re making the right choice for your kids as you decide between sending them to school, keeping them at home, or trying a hybrid option.
  • This year, for many of us the things that we look forward to and love about this time of year have been cancelled, postponed, or changed. Reclaiming those rituals and ceremonies of fall and back to school goodness is normalizing and healing.
  • Whether it’s cutting bangs, dyeing their hair, or even just getting a clip-on unicorn extension for a little one, there’s something about a new hairdo that goes with a new school year like peanut butter and jelly.
  • Even if your kiddo is not going back to physical school this fall, there is something ceremonial and special about buying even a new folder, pen, or backpack.
  • Even though these are uncertain times, life moves forward - and there is something healing and important about not throwing away our dreams, plans, and goals despite the difficulties in the world around us.
  • If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, a tool like our Clarity Deck can be incredibly helpful in getting your ideas to flow, and helping you to hear your own ideas and wisdom more clearly.
  • Sit down with your kid(s) and come up with a list of 5-10 things you’re excited about this fall. They can be big or small - think apple picking, eating a cider donut, riding a bike in a favorite park when the trees change color, making s’mores one Friday night, jumping in a pile of leaves, designing a Halloween costume.
  • You can organize friends' gatherings with other parents if your kids are small, or help your older child plan something they can invite their friends to. Encourage them to think of a reason for the gathering, or a theme; maybe they get together to watch a show they all love, or to learn a new YouTube/TikTok dance together, play a game, or even have a virtual dinner party, depending on their interests.
  • This is something that would also be great for you to do with yourself, and your own friends!
Justine Haemmerli
Justine Haemmerli

Educator, Consultant, Founder of Girls Gone Happy


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