Whether your children are distance learning, in the classroom, or somewhere in between, we’ve got a school supplies list to make this year a little easier.
BACK TO SCHOOL is a little different this year. Depending on where you live, you might be doing distance learning, part-time distance learning, or perhaps even trying your hand at homeschooling. To help, we've pulled together some school supplies for distance learning at home, and a few suggestions if they're headed into a classroom.For more school-related tips and suggestions, be sure to read through our guide to remote learning and our many other helpful guides. If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
PHOTOGRAPH: THOM LANG/GETTY IMAGES Many Supplies Are Still the Same The Basics School is different this year, but some things haven't changed. No matter how your children are learning, they're going to need the same basic supplies they always need. For younger kids that means things like pencils ($2), glue ($2), and scissors ($6). Most schools will probably provide a list, which is often available online at stores like Target and Walmart, allowing you to easily order everything you need.
PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON A Strap for Their Face Mask Face Mask Lanyard If your kids are headed back to the classroom, chances are your school is going to be requiring face masks. Our guide to face masks has plenty of ideas for the actual mask, but kids are going to lose that mask in the first five minutes of school if it isn't tied to them. That's where lanyards come in. We can't promise they'll stop your kids from losing their face mask, but they'll at least slow down the process and save you some money in the long run. If you want something more personalized, these beaded bands will probably be a hit with your kids—though we have not tested them ourselves. $4 AT AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPH: URBAN OUTFITTERS A Space to Work and Play Rooney Wall-Mounted Desk Like anyone working from home, kids need to carve out a space for themselves. A space where they can tune out the world and focus on what they're doing. This Urban Outfitters desk hangs on the wall and folds up and out of the way when the school day is over. That said, you don't need some fancy, expensive desk in a dedicated room. You just need a space for school that no one else is going to need. As our guide to setting up a workspace for your kids notes, if sitting under the dining room table works for your kid, go with it. No desk? Use a cardboard box or anything else you have that will raise their device or webcam to a comfortable level. $179 AT URBAN OUTFITTERS
GEAR Looking for a Bluetooth Speaker? These Are Our 15 PicksPARKER HALL AND JEFFREY VAN CAMP
SCIENCE Could a Janky, Jury-Rigged Air Purifier Help Fight Covid-19?ADAM ROGERS
GEAR 24 Face Masks We Actually Like to WearADRIENNE SO
GEAR Need a Cheap Laptop? These Are Our FavoritesSCOTT GILBERTSON
PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON Headphones to Create a Quiet Place Mpow Kids Headphones With Microphone Most of us on the Gear Team have worked at home for years and can say with authority: There is nothing quite as absolutely necessary to working from home as some peace and quiet, and that comes with a good pair of headphones. This is true whether you're a writer or a child trying to learn how to write. Headphones will give your child a barrier between their head and the rest of the world. When the headphones are on, they can focus on what they're doing and you can still get on with life around them. These Mpow headphones are our favorite budget option for kids. $17 AT AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPH: ACER A Cheap (but Good) Laptop Acer Swift 3 (2020) Every school has its own tech requirements, which makes it difficult to make specific PC recommendations. Be sure to check with your district to see what they recommend if they don't already provide your child a device. We suggest buying a laptop with at least an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage (preferably a solid-state drive, also called SSD), and at least a 13-inch display that's close to HD. The Acer linked here fits the bill without breaking the bank, though you can save some money by opting for a Chromebook like the Lenovo Duet ($300). The downside is that not all schools recommend Chromebooks, and there are fewer parental controls than you'll find in Windows PCs. Another way to save some money (and keep some electronics out of the landfill) is buying used. Our guide to buying on eBay will get you started, just remember to keep in mind the minimum specs above. Read more: The Best Cheap Laptops and the Best Chromebooks we've tested $600 AT AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPH: BROTHER A Printer for Assignments Brother Wireless Monochrome Printer Many of us like to think the printer belongs with the fax machine in the dustbin of history, but parents know better. Be it worksheets, instructions, coloring pages, or school forms, printers are still a must-have for school. There are certainly cheaper ink-jet printers, but now that I have this Brother Laser, I don't plan to go back. It is well worth the money to eliminate the hassle of cartridges. (It's black and white only. If you need color check out this model.) If you want something less expensive up front—just remember, ink cartridges are where the companies make their money—I've also used this Canon Pixma MG3620 ($45, Target) which is often on sale for less than $50. $150 AT AMAZON $150 AT B&H PHOTO
PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON A White Board for Daily To-Dos Magnetic Whiteboard While paper is a more sustainable, environmentally sound resource, the dry-erase whiteboard is handy for things that change a lot, like daily schedules—or to keep track of assignments at home. The one linked here is good for larger, wall-based use, if you want something kids can write on try this smaller board ($14). Your kids will have an easier time writing on it in their lap or at the table. $18 AT AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPH: GOOGLE A Calendar to Track Your Schedules Calendar Distance learning will have some bumpy moments for everyone—teachers, parents, and kids. One of those problems will be complicated schedules. Unfortunately, we can't help you simplify them, but we can recommend you get a good calendar set up and syncing across all your devices so you'll know what's happening when. We like Google Calendar for its simplicity and tight integration with Gmail. It's also rock solid and has never let us down with a missed reminder. Other options include Zoho Calendar, 30 Boxes, and NextCloud.
Author - Scott Gilbertson