5 back to school trends every parent and teacher should know about

A new academic year is on the horizon, and back-to-school trends are front and center. As students head back to the classroom, what are the hottest items gracing desks from New York to California and everywhere in between? From whimsical backpacks to colorful school supplies that will make a splash, this year's lineup has everyone buzzing. Here are five trends that are sure to infuse fun and personalization into every student's learning space for the 2019-2020 school year.

1. A walk in the woods

Artistic, forest-themed prints and sculpted fairytale flourishes add a touch of the fantastical to everyday school supplies. Gilded leaves adorn pencils and rulers, and backpacks are festooned with woodland flowers and ferns. After all, if they’re going to daydream in class, why not let them imagine a walk in a hushed forest? The look can range from an elegant, dark “enchanted princess” vibe, with deep gold or pink hues, to a sunnier, outdoorsy aesthetic, with camping or camouflage patterns.

2. Blast from the past

The nostalgia for all things 90s might make you smile – especially coming from kids who have never set eyes on a floppy disk or a CD – but the checked patterns, color schemes and 90s-era tech motifs have a fun appeal for every age. Don’t be surprised when you see backpacks or folder patterns that you’d swear you brought to class during your own school days. These looks refer back to the trendy subcultures of the decade, like extreme sports or California surfer culture, complete with exuberant splashes of neon. You might see a few prints that look like the opening credits to Saved by the Bell. Let your kids embrace the fun side of the 1990s — they might even want to hear you tell stories about living through the real thing.

3. Whimsical wildlife

Certain things never go out of style: Sharks and gorillas are always cool. Koalas and pandas are always adorable. Who doesn’t love animal patterns? But the style of these patterns changes every year, and this time around the amazing creatures get clever cartoon spins that celebrate their awesomeness — and look pretty good on a pencil case, too. Featuring fascinating wildlife on your backpack while learning about their ecosystems in science class is pretty great, when you think about it. When your kids embrace animal patterns, it shows they care about fellow creatures that share the planet. Picking clever patterns? Well, that just means they have great style.

4. Partial to pastels

After a few years of darker-toned looks, it might be time for a breath of fresh air. The on-trend palette of the moment is all about pastels. Lilac or mint, light pinks or blues – expect to see lighter hues everywhere, either in solids, color-block motifs, or light patterns. Airy colors like these can give your student a lift throughout the ups and downs of the school day. These cool, dreamy looks are just the thing to carry them forward when they’re working hard on their homework.

5. Planners that make you smile

When your student opens their planner, they’re focused on what’s ahead: Their to-dos, their goals, their fun social events and big deadlines. This is the right place for some bright, bold, active patterns, maybe with a clever catchphrase and they can use as a personal motto for the year. This is great motivation, and it’s practical, too — when your kid reaches into their backpack, they want to be able to quickly spot the planner amid all the textbooks and notebooks. Take your student shopping for the planner that suits how they organize their lives, and you’ll be sure to find a pattern that suits their personality, too.