11 Unexpected Back to School Items Your Kid Needs (In Addition to New Shoes)

Back to schoolBack to school shopping seems cut and dry to people without children. You would think that all the back to school items your kid needs would be on the list you get from the school, but one quick chat with my friends who are parents let me know that this simply was not the case!

The list is just a launch pad for your back to school shopping, and it’s not a very good one, at that. Friends who are both parents and teachers told me that those lists often include things that the child will only use once or twice, if ever, or it requests a quantity far greater than anything your child could possibly use. Also, depending on your child’s particular needs and interests, the odds are good that you will have to tweak the supplies list to buy things like more erasers or those pencil grips to improve penmanship.

Beyond school supplies, there are other back to school items your kid needs, and you probably won’t see these pop up on a list from the school. These unexpected back to school items are things your kid probably needs, so you may want to stock up on these before school starts.

1. Duplicates

Buying duplicates isn’t budget-friendly, but it’s a great way to help ensure that your kiddo does his or her homework! Have extra pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and any other age-appropriate items at home that your child needs for doing their homework.

colorful crayons

2. Tablet

The odds are good that your child will need to access the Internet to complete assignments or do research, but they aren’t always home when working on their homework. An inexpensive, lightweight tablet allows them to be able to complete more assignments from just about anywhere.

3. Pencil sharpener

If a hand-held pencil sharpener with a lid for collecting shavings isn’t on your school supply list, buy one! The classroom sharpener may not be the most reliable, and if there is a line, your son or daughter could lose focus by the time they get back to their desk.

4. An agenda

The older your child is, the more accountability you want them to have for tracking their own assignments, extracurricular activities, and upcoming quizzes and tests. You can consult with their planner to see if they have been staying current on their assignments and studies.

5. An umbrella

It doesn’t matter where you live, it is going to rain sometime, and you don’t want an uncomfortable, wet, distracted child. A small, appropriately-sized umbrella should be available when the conditions call for it.

Back to school items: umbrella

6. Toiletries

As your child grows up, the more grooming tools he or she will probably need. Deodorant, a comb, and other age-appropriate toiletries and grooming tools can help your child feel fresh and focused after enjoying recess, participating in gym, or walking to school.

7. Insulated lunch tote

Even if your child will be eating lunches from the school cafeteria, there may be times when you want to send your kiddo to class with a special meal, and field trips often require a sack lunch. Having a durable, insulated lunch tote will let your child enjoy a fresh and nutritious meal that has been kept at a safe temperature.

8. Wet bag

Especially helpful for younger children, a wet bag is something that you may be familiar with if you used cloth diapers. Great for storing soiled and wet clothes, you may want to buy your younger student a wet bag and fill it with a complete change of clothes that they can keep in their cubbie. If there is an accident, they can put on the clean clothes, and bring the dirty clothes back in the sealed wet bag.

9. A USB Drive

If your child is doing work on the computer, it should be backed up. You don’t want your kid’s book report to disappear due to data loss! Have your child back up their work to their dedicated USB drive for assignments.

10. Reusable bag

Not just swell for shopping, a small compact reusable bag can help your child haul home any additional homework, books, or supplies they need that won’t quite fit into their backpack with greater ease.

11. An ID or emergency card

An ID or emergency card kept in your kid’s backpack or wallet can help to keep them safe in an emergency, medical or otherwise. The card includes a photo of your child, emergency contact information, and health and medical information, such as any allergies they have, who their insurance provider is, and who their doctors are. You can even make your own emergency ID cards for your kids. This is just one more way to help your children stay safe as they go to and from school.

children in a classroom raising their hands

What are some unexpected back to school items your kids have needed for back to school?


Thanks to friends, family members, and colleagues for offering up your own ideas on unexpected back to school items!

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