5 Back to School Rituals to Keep for Back to School 2020


Back to school 2020 looks a lot different this year due to Covid. Each town seems to have its own iteration of a virtual, in school or hybrid model. Some folks are even homeschooling. I think we were all hoping to be back to “normal” by September’s school start. But alas, we are not. 

During this not-so-normal season, maintaining those back to school rituals that have been repeated each fall for our children seems more important than ever.

1. School Supply Shopping

Standing in a sea of school supplies in the middle of Target’s “School Zone”, my husband declares “Why are we buying so many pencils? You are going to be using Google Drive for your work!”. But you see, those pencils are symbolic. Those pencils represent the back-to-school season and all the excited energy that comes with this annual event. This September our school is starting the year 100% virtual so those pencils may sit dormant.

But it’s the process of buying the pencils that matters! Even Fall 2020, our kids can put together their pencil box just as they did last year and all the years before.

2. Back to School Outfit

Even if you will be sitting at the kitchen table Zoom schooling with your teacher, your child needs one. Last night we bought new sneakers for one daughter….even though she will not be hitting the field for field hockey. The sneakers represent something bigger. In our house it’s a signal to the systematic approach of going back to school. The shoes and outfits are part of the ritual. Part of the excitement. Part of the change of season from summer to fall and represent the mental switch from playtime to school time. Similar to adults purchasing new clothes for a new job.

Ya gotta have a first day outfit!

3. First Day Photos

Despite the impending groans of “mooooooooommmmmmm” and eye rolling – they LOVE every second of it. Deep down (for my teens it might be waaaaay down) they love the pride you show on your face when see them standing on the front stoop ready for the first day. The first day outfit combined with the first day photo shoot is part of our family’s annual first day schedule. But you can also go pure comedy like these back to school photos. Upholding those annual traditions is important to both parent and child in a time of constant change

Say “cheese” and just grin and bear it!

4. Organize the Backpack

Regardless if the student is heading into a school or to your kitchen table, get that backpack organized. Binders and folders and pencil boxes all neatly categorized and organized to start the day.

Keeping school stuff handy and in one place, regardless of school or home, is always a good idea.

5. Set the Alarm

Ahhh, the dreaded bemoaning of the early rising that occurs each year on the first day of school. Get those alarms set and get up and get ready. (If you have 4 girls like me, talk through the morning shower schedule!) Both in person and virtual school will have an early morning start.

Treating this first day of school of Fall 2020 with the deference it deserves helps your child switch to a student mindset. 

Keep those Family Traditions!

The Back to School season (even in for Fall 2020) is similar to a holiday in that we have created traditions that signal its arrival and celebration. Maintaining rituals is an important part of our lives – for both child and parent. If you have taken photos on the front steps every year on the first day of school…why would you stop this year?

  • Do you make pancakes? Get the griddle set up the night before and announce pancakes in the AM!
  • Do you drive them to school but this year you are virtual? Drive around the block and then home to start school.
  • Do you have neighborhood kids that typically stand at a bus stop together? Text the parents for a first day photo at the bus stop.
  • Does Grandma normally come over to wave at the bus? Tell her to come on over anyways or Zoom with her so she can wish you a great first day.
  • Do you typically wait at the end of the driveway for a school bus? Go outside and walk to the mailbox and get some fresh air before sitting down and starting the school day at home.
  • Divorced and normally mom/dad meet at school for hugs and photos? Maybe you still meet at school – even if it is closed – for those photos and hugs. Or invite them over to the house to take photos.

Covid-Creativity is a real thing. Just like we’ve relied on it for the last six months, we need it here for Back to School 2020. 



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Hi, I'm Brinn. I am an imperfect mom who strives to do better every day at caring for the people and pets in my life. Together with my husband, 4 daughters and 2 dogs, I live in Exeter (but have lived all over the Seacoast). I've spent the last 20-years working in the Recreation biz and currently manage of the Portsmouth Senior Activity Center and the Portsmouth Holiday Parade. Before Portsmouth, I worked for Rochester Recreation & Arena...Some of your children might have been taught to skate by me! 25 years ago I started my career in Boston at the New England Aquarium and pretty much love all animals. In my free time I volunteer for the Marine Mammal Rescue Team at the Seacoast Science Center as well as kayak and paddle board. Follow me at @brinnieloohoo on Instagram to learn more about my ever so imperfect attempt at life and motherhood.