Back-to-School: Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed


Let’s talk about school supplies. If you’re lucky enough to have a school that allows you to write a check and have your child’s supplies delivered to their desk, you may think you have it easy, right? Wrong. Even if you don’t have to stress over that pack of six, dry-erase markers that you list says you need, there are other things not on the list that you’ll need. We’ve compiled a list of them to help keep your stress level stay lower during the back-to-school season.


School Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed

Preschools often need additional crafting supplies such as empty toilet paper rolls, tube socks, and shoe boxes.  If you can, ask parents from the year prior to what they had to contribute so you can plan ahead.  You’ll also probably need a plain white shirt, and pictures for and “All About Me” project (baby picture, family picture, picture of someone they admire, current picture of your child, etc.).

Photo Credit | Kari Alford | 2016

If you think you’ll want to keep everything that junior comes home with, buy a 3-ring binder and hole punch for those must-save items that come home from school.  You can add tabs later to separate the years, depending on what size binder you get, or just use one binder per year.

A great idea a friend of mine shared with me is to buy an adult-sized t-shirt (in an adult size) with your child’s graduation year on it (Class of 2035 anyone?). Take a photo of your child wearing it on the first day of preschool. You can keep up this tradition up until they graduate. Looking back on all those pictures will be a cherished memory for both of you!

Back-to-School Supplies
© Kari Alford | Little Lake | 2017

Elementary School

  • Pictures
    If you have a child in Elementary School, you’re going to need pictures. A baby picture of your little guy or girl, a current picture of them, a family picture and probably a picture of someone/thing they love, somewhere they love and maybe even a vacation you took over the summer. Like Preschool, kindergarten has the “All About Me” poster project that comes home at some point, and when it does, you don’t want to be up at 10:00 p.m. begging your printer to squeeze out enough ink to print that family picture to paste on the poster. If your little one isn’t in kindergarten, you’re still going to want to have a baby picture, a current picture, and a family picture. I like to keep these pictures with my kid’s school binders during the year so they’re handy at the last minute (when you know your kiddo will be asking for it!)
  • A Plain T-shirt
    This may need be white or another color, but keep in mind when back to school shopping that you’ll probably need at least one t-shirt for your child to decorate at some point (100 days of school, etc.).
  • Art Shirt
    This could be an old shirt of yours or your husband’s.
  • A Fancy Outfit With SHOES
    This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many parents confessed to me during the Holiday Program that they had to go buy a brand new outfit the day before along with shoes. I buy my son’s dress shoes from Zulily and I get a great deal, then after we’re done I take them to the local kid’s thrift store and sell them for store credit to buy things like baseball cleats, ballet shoes, etc.
  • At Home School Supplies
    Kids seem to accumulate pencils like germs, so you’re probably good there. Other items that parents seem to scramble for are: paper (for spelling practice, etc.), a pencil sharpener (I broke down and bought an electric one. I keep it next to our overflowing jar of pencils on the counter), a calculator (if your child is allowed to have their tablet during the school week you may not need this one.) You’ll also need a few large pink erasers (because somehow, all those pencils that are starting to outnumber your dust bunnies are erasers. Yup. They’re all missing their erasers. Why?? I have no idea. But they are!)
  • Water Bottle(s).
    If your kids are like my kids, you’ll need two. One for school and one to bring to school when they forget the first one at school.
Back-to-School Supplies
© Kari Alford | Little Lake | 2017

Middle School/High School

Locker Decorations/mirror
Moving on up, kids with lockers often want locker decorations like they need air. Nothing says love to a middle schooler like a parent who buys them the coveted locker decorations.

Hair Brush/comb
Your teen might care more about what they look like in middle and high school than they will at any other time in their life. Make sure they can beautify during the day without having to cart their primping supplies back and forth to school.

Gym shoes/clothes and showering supplies
If your kid needs to shower after gym class, then you want them clean, right? Make sure no one has to live with your teenager’s sweaty stink for the rest of the day by giving them showering supplies (in a plastic bag to make sure it doesn’t spill in their locker or backpack!).

Back-to-School Supplies
© Kari Alford | Little Lake | 2017

What items does your child need that aren’t on the back-to-school list? 

About Kari Alford 25 Articles
Kari is a military wife who gets to travel the globe with her favorite people: her family! She has a husband who is funnier than she lets on, a daughter who is more creative than anyone she’s ever met, and a son who is always up for an adventure (especially if it involves a sword fight!) Kari hails from Michigan, but thanks to joining the Navy when she was 19, she has lived in California and Japan until returning to the Midwest in 2015. Kari loves to experience what cities have to offer but also loves to kayak with her family, or explore the wilderness. Every day is a different one since she’s on her children’s school’s PTO board, the AYLL board, and goes to college part time. Kari hates being bored, so you’ll often find her with her crochet bag, working on an afghan while she’s waiting for her children during practice.

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