The Ultimate Guide to Backpack Essentials

The below post is the first in our 2017 Back-to-School Series. Throughout the month of August, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for back-to-school advice, tips, and tricks for all ages.

Buying backpack essentials is a classic back-to-school activity for every grade level. The basic shopping list for all age groups includes items like pencils, pens, erasers, and paper, but students of different ages will also need to fill their backpacks with different items.

So what are the backpack essentials that you’ll need to prepare for this school year? Here is our ultimate guide to backpack must-haves, broken down by elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Elementary school backpack essentials

  • Tissues—Illness tends to spread quickly throughout schools. Prevent dripping noses by keeping a pack of tissues handy for your student to grab from his or her backpack.

  • Wipes—Elementary school is full of messy pastimes like arts and crafts, recess, and, of course, lunchtime. Wipes make it easy for students to get into the habit of cleaning their hands after they get them dirty or before they eat.

  • Layers of clothing—Younger students typically switch between inside and outside time each day. Teach them what clothes they should wear when they go out for recess, field trips, and when they leave at the end of the day so that they stay warm (or cool).

  • Sunscreen—This is something else that students should wear when they go outside. Teach your student how to apply sunscreen, and remind them to reapply it throughout the day if they are going outside more than once.

  • Your contact information—Elementary school students may still be in the process of memorizing your contact information. While your student’s teacher has this information, keeping it on an index card in your child’s backpack can make him or her feel a little more secure. It is also extremely useful in emergency situations.

[RELATED: How Parents Can Help with Elementary Homework Challenges]

Middle school backpack essentials

  • USB drive—In middle school, students will start using computers more and more frequently. They may also be required to do homework on their computer at home. It’s easy for students to carry around their work on a USB drive. Make sure your student has one in his or her backpack.

  • Calculator—Middle school students will be doing more complex math and will thus need a good calculator. Check with your student’s teacher to see what kind he or she recommends. it could be a scientific calculator, graphing calculator, or both.

  • Day planner—A day planner is a helpful tool for middle school students. Buy a planner with large spaces for each day so he or she has enough space to record the day’s homework with any notes.

[RELATED: 4 Ways Parents Can Help Middle School Students Succeed]

High school backpack essentials

  • Highlighters—Highlighters are often helpful to high school students, who do more reading than younger students. Learning how to highlight and read for important information is an essential skill high school students need for college.

  • USB drive—Like middle school students, high school students also need a USB drive to transfer their homework and assignments between multiple computers.

  • Day planner—Also like middle school students, high schoolers benefit from having a day planner. It can be used to record assignments, test dates, project deadlines, practices, meetings, events, etc.

  • Binders—Binders can help keep high school students organized for each class. Help your student label his or her binders, which they can take out of their locker as needed before each class. Be sure your student also has plenty of loose-leaf paper and binder dividers to stay even more organized.

[RELATED: 5 Questions to Ask Your Student's New Teacher]


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