It’s just about time to cheer our kids on with ‘Welcome Back to School,’ whether we like it or not. Is anyone else feeling like it’s all a little surreal? Or maybe like we aren’t quite ready to let go of the summer this time? The school closures and quarantine sort of bled into the summer (a summer that was something of a cop out, if you ask me). The weeks dragged on amid a blur of unremarkable, solitary days, each subtly different from the last, and then the next.
At least that’s how it felt to a mom who usually loves to dazzle her kids with trips to the shore, the boardwalk, local orchards to pick fresh fruit, not to mention swimming lessons and a plethora of visits to the park, the zoo, amusement parks and water parks and the whole nine yards. A mom who seems to err on the side of caution, quite a lot lately… Sure we still did some fun things but yes, boringly, we played (mostly) by the rules. This was a pretty lackluster summer, and that’s putting it nicely. Well, and here we are, back to school in just about 10 more days. Yikes! How did the time go by so fast? And am I alone in mourning the summer so?
Perhaps with that as my driving force, I decided to come up with a bunch of fun ideas to make the start of the school year special. Here’s a list of Welcome Back to School 2020 Style special ideas for the kids. Celebrate the start of a new school year – another year older, another year smarter, with a combination of these fun ideas or a bunch of your own!
2020 Welcome Back to School Ideas
We always like to do something special with our kids on the last weekend (and usually the last day) before school starts. Here are some ideas to welcome your kids back to school this year.
Take a few moments to enjoy these last-minute summer fun ideas before school starts back up.
Enjoy a last-day-of-summer barbecue or picnic.
Even if you host it just with your family in your own yard, eating outside together as a family creates a feel-good memory. Let your kids help plan the menu or pack the picnic basket. Play a few outdoor games and take some photos and videos. Enjoy the fresh air and carefree nature of the day. Breathe it in while you can.
Have a water balloon fight!
We can’t get enough of the Bunch-O-Balloons water balloon sets and how easy they are to fill! I remember being a teen and filling hand grenade water balloons one at a time in the bathroom sink! Get a few packs of these and have a fun water battle with your kids. If you’re social distancing, you can safely plan an epic battle with your nearby neighbors using your own yards as boundaries. Water balloons not your thing? You can always set up the sprinkler, slip n slide, or an epic water slide to create lasting memories. (Watch for discounts on all these fun water things now as the summer comes to a close!)
Surprise them with a few fun school supplies.
Sure, they may not be on the teacher’s list, but your kids will love the extra thought you put into making them smile. Small note tablets with graph paper can make math lessons easier. Mr. Sketch scented markers are still fan favorites all these years later. Who doesn’t love Post-Its?! The possibilities are so affordable and virtually endless. You can make this a treasure hunt of sorts if you like or simply wrap them up and hand them over.
First Day of School Celebrations – Morning
On the first day of school, kids may be nervous, hesitant, excited, or any mix of emotions – especially this year! Do what you can as their greatest fan. Welcome Back to School in style to make the morning as fun and memorable as you possibly can.
Decorate the kitchen table to celebrate school.
Put out signs, balloons, and other fun decorations to bring lots of cheer in the morning. Something as cheap as a bag of balloons from Dollar Tree in your child’s favorite color can start the day with an unexpected smile.
Throw together a Welcome Back to School Breakfast Buffet.
It can be epic or simple – your choice! My absolute favorite recipe to have on hand for school mornings is Smitten Kitchen’s Dreamy Cream Scones. We make them with fresh fruit (add the cream last and use less of it – fruit adds its own moisture to the dough so you don’t need as much). We also love them with chocolate chips or chocolate chips AND coconut. Mmmm… But I digress – you can make eggs, bacon, and pancakes, homemade waffles, breakfast stromboli, cinnamon buns, or whatever foods your kids love. A back-to-school breakfast buffet will take work but it will be so appreciated!
Don’t forget your 1st Day of School picture!
No matter if you’re going full virtual, hybrid, or back in person, be sure to snap those precious 1st day of school pics just like you always do. Have your students fill out their chalkboards along with annual tradition or start a new tradition if you’ve got a young student or want to change things up a bit.
Have a special school day snack available.
Whether you bake, order, or get it from the grocery store, you can delight your kids with a snack that steps it up a notch. A huge fruit salad could be energizing and refreshing. You could also make your OWN “Edible Arrangements” style snack with fruit, small cookie cutters, and bamboo skewers. You know your kids better than anybody, so play off their favorites for an easy win!
Welcome Back to School Wrap-Up – Afternoon
When you’ve all survived the first day back to school, breathe that heavy sigh of relief. I am going to say it again. BREATHE. I need that reminder sometimes. We’ve all been holding our breath for this moment for far too long. Now, tackle any homework or to do’s, but maybe not before you take a moment to celebrate.
Celebrate the end of the first school day with a treat!
Our family’s tradition for first and last day of school is ice cream! Whether you go out or plan at home, this is a fun and memorable way to celebrate. We have friends in on our tradition and since we couldn’t go in person during quarantine, we had a virtual ice cream date over Zoom. If you’re all Zoomed-out, make your own plans as you feel comfortable. I’m planning on an at-home sundae bar with several favorite flavors of ice cream and numerous fun toppings! Gotta see if I can find some unicorn sprinkles…!
Get the scoop!
Be sure to let your kids know you care and can’t wait to hear all about their first day back. Ask about their day – but not just, “How was your day.” Ask about their favorite part of the day, any challenges, things that made them happy or sad, and anything else as appropriate. Keep those communication lines open! You can do this during family dinner or however it works best for your family.
Make a favorite dinner with a special twist.
Maybe you order pizza, maybe you cook chicken parm (aka: “Mommy’s Crispy Chicken”). You might even have help from your kids if they’re lucky and don’t have homework yet. Make sure you choose something (or a variety of things) that each of your kids will love. Offer a special beverage choice to your family, either with dinner or afterwards – such as root beer floats, milkshakes, homemade punch topped with rainbow sherbet, or lemonades with fresh fruit mixed in!
Close the night with something fun.
Even though it’s a school night, you can still make it special. Once homework’s done, take some time to play a game, go on a scavenger hunt, or do a craft. You can wing it or let your kids choose. The most important thing is to stay committed to that precious family time even though time seems to fly even faster during the school year sometimes.
Once the kids are in bed, finally it’s time to relax. Enjoy your glass of wine or beer, or perhaps a hot bath or binge a little on Netflix. If the sound of those makes you even more exhausted, you aren’t alone. Better yet, catch up on some sleep – seems to be one of those things we’ve been losing a lot of this year. Wishing everyone a wonderful and successful Welcome Back to School!
By the way – feel free to share more ideas in our comments below!