Back-to-school can be a super exciting time for kids (and parents too). There’s cool new supplies to buy, new outfits to create, and old friends to see and new ones to make! But with the world in the midst of a pandemic – and many U.S. schools starting school online – it can be hard to feel that same excitement for the start of the new school year. Our school has decided to start the year with online Distance Learning until they’ve determined that it’s safe for students to return to in-person schooling (and even then, I know lots of parents who will be keeping their kids’ learning online the remainder of the school year). Emma has already expressed that she’s not a fan of school (she thinks it’s boring), but she’d rather go to school than have to do it at home. She thinks sitting at a computer all day is really boring (and I can’t blame her). So it’s been even more of a challenge to get her excited for the new year when she’s not even able to actually go to school. So, I decided to try and find little ways to help keep some of the excitement alive so returning to school isn’t such a bummer for her.
Back-to-school shopping was always my favorite part of going back to school. Picking out new notebooks and pencils and clothing was the best! I wanted to keep that going with Emma, so she and I scheduled a special time for the just the two of us to run to Target and grab some school supplies. We didn’t need much, but even if it was something we already had, if it was “fun” to purchase, I tried to make it happen.
So even though we won’t need a new backpack until who-knows-when, we picked one out anyway because it was a super fun and exciting purchase for her. Her new pencil case, which was another “frivolous” purchase, is now her most prized possession. We also picked up fresh markers and crayons just for the new school year (and relegated the old ones to the craft cabinet). I didn’t spend a ton on new supplies, but grabbing those few new things really helped boost Emma’s back-to-school excitement level.
Getting to pick out new clothes was probably my favorite part of back-to-school shopping! So even though we’ll be starting this school year out at home, I wanted Emma to have a special, new outfit just for the first day of school. She, of course, picked the fanciest, poofiest dress she could find! She was so excited to wear it for her first Zoom meeting and made me take a picture of her and send it to her cousin, so she could see the dress too.
Special Back-to-School Shopping Date
After we were finished with our school shopping, we made a quick run through the Starbucks drive-thru for a treat. In Emma’s world, there’s not much a Dragon drink and a cake pop can’t fix! Once we’d gotten our order and were headed home, Emma said, “This is the best day ever!” That’s when I knew my little excitement experiment was working.
Once it was time for school to actually start, Emma was equal parts excited and nervous. To tip that emotional scale more to the Excited side, I wanted to start her morning off with a special breakfast. I was torn between donuts or chocolate croissants, but ultimately chose the latter (frozen, from Trader Joe’s – they’re delicious!). Emma was pumped to be able to have “chocolate breakfast” before school. We also let her decide what we were having for dinner as a sort of back-to-school celebration meal.
The biggest thing I did for Emma was give her workspace a makeover. I know it was an unnecessary and frivolous thing, and not something everyone is able to do, but it was something I had the time and finances to do for her that really put her excitement level over-the-top! Even more so because I involved her in the whole process. She helped pick out the wallpaper, helped paint the desk, and “supervised” when I built the shelves. She loves having such a pretty, dedicated workspace, and it makes doing her school work just a little bit more fun.
Makeover aside, nothing else I did was hard or super costly. They were mostly little things that can make a big difference in making pandemic-style back-to-school time a little more exciting. I hope you’ll let me know if you tried any of these little activities for your child. And if you did something different to build up the back-to-school excitement, I’d love to hear about that too.