What Students Need for the First Day of School

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, there is often a fine line between what children want and what children need for the first day of school. The trendiest shoes, the latest gadget, an entire rainbow of gel pens... yes, there is a definite 'coolness' factor to consider. Yet, parents need not fret over purchasing an entire set of coordinating supplies with the latest teen idol plastered on the front. Nor do they need to spend a fortune on a state-of-the-art smart phone for use in a BYOD classroom. What students need are basic school supplies that are required on a regular basis and that will prepare them for learning. Many teachers will provide parents with a list of must-have and recommended items for school but in case you missed the memo, I have highlighted below some important essentials that students need to bring on the first day of school.

  • A properly fitted backpack - While that cute purple backpack from our favourite preschool cartoon is adorable, it might be too small for kindergarten. If your child will be at school for a full day, there will need to be room for a lunch bag, extra clothes in case of accidents and spare winter accessories. For older students, bigger isn't necessarily better. There needs to be additional room for textbooks and projects but it shouldn't be too big that the bottom of the bag falls below the small of your child's back. Wide padded straps and a padded back as seen on the Jansport Student Backpack are features that will make wearing a backpack more comfortable.

  • A lunch bag with a sturdy handle - Students tend to jam everything into their backpack during the home-time rush, filling their bags to capacity and making them heavier than necessary. If they have a lunch bag with a handle, they can carry it separately to help lighten the load and the unnecessary strain on their back and shoulders.

  • Pencils, pencils and more pencils - This may be the most obvious of back-to-school supplies. However, as a teacher who works with over 200 students each day, I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to have an abundance of quality pencils on hand. The amount of times I hear, "I can't find my pencil." makes me want to pull out my hair. If your child prefers mechanical pencils, be sure to include refills.

  • A quality pencil sharpener - In the case of mounted pencil sharpeners, I find they are not the most reliable and are quite noisy. With electronic sharpeners, they too can be loud and there is often a lineup of students waiting to use them. A good quality pencil sharpener with a receptacle such as the Staedtler Premium Pencil Sharpener saves time. And your ears.

  • A variety of colours - Whether your child prefers crayons, pencil crayons or markers, be sure to buy packs with various colours and shades. Even if the school supplies colours, they often contain only the typical spectrum of eight colours. Students like to be creative and unique, and as such, they will usually wander about the room asking their friends if they can borrow their fancy colours. Also, if opting for markers, choose ones that are not permanent or that do not soak through to the back of the paper. Crayola markers are typically a great solution.

  • Labels - As a rule of thumb, label everything! The reason so many items go missing is that no one knows who the owner is. Pencils and markers that end up on the floor, if not claimed, will likely be swept up by the nighttime caretaker and thrown out. Avery offers a set of Kids Self-Laminating Labels that will do the trick.

  • A French-English dictionary - As a favour to my French-teaching counterparts, I beg you to please, please invest in a decent French-English dictionary once your child starts learning FSL. It is undeniably a handy reference tool for Canadian students as they begin their studies in our nation's other official language. One of my personal favourites is the Collins Robert French-English Dictionary.

Collins Robert French-English Dictionary

Finally, keep in mind that there will likely be other items recommended by your teacher that will complement the essentials listed here. These must-have school supplies, along with good organizational habits and a positive attitude, will help make the transition back to school a little bit easier.

By Diana Mancuso

August 15, 2013