It happens every year about this time: students start trading suntan lotion for school supplies, bathing suits for new fall clothes — and their parents release the collective breath they’ve been holding since last June.

Back to school also signals a super opportunity for teachers and business owners to support the learning environment. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make it a banner year. Welcome new and returning students with a custom vinyl banner. You can also get creative, depending on the age of your students and the ethos of the school. The tried-and-true version of, “Welcome to Mr. Duncan’s 8th Grade Homeroom!” signals a warm fuzzy welcome, and humorous class-specific banners, such as, “Geometry: what’s the point?” (aimed at high school students) might make even the math phobes smile.
  2. Create some tempting sandwiches. Sandwich boards, that is. Community businesses play a huge part in helping parents and children prepare for this annual transition from the pool and beach to the classroom. Advertise your back-to-school essentials on sandwich board signs with a book motif. Even with all the digital paraphernalia students have to assist them these days, there’s still nothing quite like freshly sharpened Number 2 pencils, colorful spiral notebooks, and of course a new day pack to hold their laptops and smart phones.
  3. Spend time in the yard. The kids will be in the schoolyard for recess, and your business ought to be “in the yard” as well, with yard signs that focus on upcoming school events. Parent-Teacher night, fundraisers, and all the special events that mark a school year lend themselves to strategic signage around town.

No matter how old we get, there’s always something special in the air about back-to-school. Maybe it’s a call to the child in each of us, to embrace the joy of lifelong learning and answer our creative urge.