For this year’s back-to-school lead-up, most parents are more focused on getting a homeschooling setup in place or figuring out new at-school protocols than stocking up on notebooks and stickers. But even if your kids are staying at home this semester, don’t overlook a backpack as a school supply essential. Having a dedicated spot to stow pencils and homework can change the way budding minds approach learning—and keeps some kind of normalcy when kids pack up school life at the end of the day and transition back to being at home (all in the same space). Plus, developing positive organizational habits early will carry over once they do return full-time to the classroom. Hang one of these designs up on a fun hook or over their desk chair for extra storage they can customize with cool, colorful patches to suit every style.
A mood-boosting burst of color can be just what a virtual learner needs. Our budget-friendly pick from classic Jansport comes in rich marigold, with padded straps and an exterior compartment that encourages your child to designate a different pocket for every item. For a color-blocked look, go with Nike’s Tanjun backpack. Named after the Japanese word for “simplicity,” this sporty option has just one zippered compartment, in addition to the front pouch, to not overwhelm younger ones with too much choice. Is pattern more their vibe? Vans’ iconic checkerboard design with an internal laptop sleeve offers a comfy (and functional) fit and brings summer fun to fall. Finally, Hunter’s Original Kids backpack features a water-resistant exterior, just in case your homeschooling pod goes on a field trip.
A muted, neutral palette blends in with most homeschool stations and brings a little calm to the day. State Bags’s floral-print design integrates two water bottle holders and multiple interior compartments for excursions outdoors (or to carry into a fort for story time). Swedish cult-favorite Fjällräven’s Kanken graphic print is also nature inspired, and partial proceeds from its purchase will go to various climate initiatives. Smallable’s tricolor Sticky Lemon style features lilac straps and a polka-dotted inner lining that will make your child actually want to take their schoolwork out, while Target’s minimalist striped pack offers a budget-friendly option with inner and outer pouches, and lined straps for added support.
Sometimes the only way to make homeschooling a blast is with out-of-this-world accessories. Maisonette’s futuristic design offers metallics and rainbows. For a festive take on space-age chic, State Bags’s backpack balances sequins with storage—in the form of a main compartment equipped with pencil holders and zip pockets to hold loose-leaf worksheets. If you have a maximalist at heart, Bari Lynn’s holographic style has two exterior pockets (and plenty of emoji fun), while Herschel’s Key lime–hued offering includes an interior label for quick identification. Because no matter how different their school experience might be this year, tagging their pack is a tried-and-true tradition.