mom and her children, group of children, and school supplies.

The Parents Guide to Back to School 2021

Finally, for real this time, no fooling. Our kids are donning backpacks, lugging lunch boxes, and heading into classrooms five days a week. And because this cathartic moment calls not only for celebration but also for preparation, Parents presents a crash course in getting ready. Our full-to-bursting guide covers every aspect of this transition, from supercool first-day outfits and six of the cutest lunches that ever lunched to helping an anxious kid psych up for the return or a struggling reader play catch-up. As you hold tight to the lessons of that long stint at home—about togetherness and what matters most—try to savor this miraculous occasion: Our kids are back where they ought to be, ready to thrive, grow, and learn. Class is in session!

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Jordan, 5, kindergarten

What I ♥ About School

"Making friends, and wearing my Minecraft backpack!"

Jordan, 5, kindergarten
Optimism Infographic
By Cheryl Lock, Photograph by Tim Marsella

Lucia, 5, kindergarten

What I ♥ About School

"Playing in person, and snacktime."

Lucia, 5, kindergarten

Gianna, 6, first grade

What I ♥ About School

"Having no rest time, and that's good because I don't even like it."

Gianna, 6, first grade

Elizabeth, 6, first grade

What I ♥ About School

"Making new friends and going to the cafeteria. It's like a restaurant."

Elizabeth, 6, first grade

Kloee, 10, fourth grade

What I ♥ About School

"Wondering what I'm going to learn each day!"

Kloee, 10, fourth grade

Jasper, 7, second grade

What I ♥ About School

"Being in a real classroom that never glitches."

Jasper, 7, second grade

Rori, 8, third grade

What I ♥ About School

"Seeing who my teacher is. I hope they're as nice as last year's. And I like the muffins at breakfast."

Rori, 8, third grade

Ethan, 10, fifth grade

What I ♥ About School

"Making my class laugh, and playing basketball with my friends."

Ethan, 10, fifth grade

Abe, 8, third grade

What I ♥ About School

"On the last day, we had every snack you can imagine. I bet we'll get to do that again."

Abe, 8, third grade

Kadence, 9, fourth grade

What I ♥ About School

"Seeing my friends. Also, the school's chicken and noodles. Don't tell anyone that part."

Kadence, 9, fourth grade

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's September 2021 issue as "We're Back!" Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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