I’ve always loved school. In fact, throughout my entire pre-university academic career, I was what you would call a teacher’s pet. So much so, that at the end of every summer, while most kids were bemoaning the start of another school year, I was sitting on my bedroom floor, surrounded by new school supplies, getting organized for the first day of class. Yup, I was that girl. But not everyone is as school-supply obsessed as I was. So with September around the corner, here’s a breakdown of the essential supplies your kids will need to make the most out of a new school year.

Elementary School

Some days, I really wish I could go back to grade school. I mean, colouring is part of the curriculum! The top 10 essential supplies for kids in Grades 1 through 6 are:

  1. Pencils – Most students aren’t allowed to use pens until about Grade 4 or 5. So be sure your child is equipped with an adequate supply of No.2 pencils. One package of 12 should be more than sufficient for the school year. As your child gets a little older, mechanical pencils will likely become a preferred choice.

  2. Eraser and pencil sharpenerMistakes happen, so one or two medium pink erasers will come in very handy throughout the school year. Your child may want those cute animal shaped erasers, but they tend to smudge lead and leave a mess behind, so it’s best to stick with what works. And to keep those No. 2 pencils nice and sharp, don’t forget to equip your child with a decent pencil sharpener.
  3. Coloured markers and pencil crayons – Depending on the school, markers may not be allowed in the younger grades, so be sure to check with your child’s teacher before sending them to class with a package of brilliantly coloured permanent markers. Either way, apackage of coloured pencil crayons is a must-have for the elementary student and those all-important art projects that tap into their creativity.

  4. Scissors – Scissors are an essential part of many elementary school art projects. For younger children, be sure to stick with child-safe blunt ended scissors. You can make the transition to pointed scissors as your child progresses to higher grades. One pair should last several years.
  5. Glue – Another essential for elementary school art projects is glue. However, different projects often require different glues, so supply your child with the ever-popular glue stick(two should do), as well as one bottle of Elmers School Glue, which is to go-to for more creative projects … like those that require glitter!

  6. Ruler – Plastic rulers tend to break and chip easily, so it’s best to go with a wooden ruler. Be sure to select one that is 12” long with both metric and imperial measurements.
  7. FoldersFor projects, homework, and toting papers to and from school, several folders are recommended for elementary school kids. Go for plastic folders as they are much more durable than paper and won’t need to be replaced mid-year.
  8. Composition booksComposition or notebooks for poems, homework, and other in-class activities are essential for the elementary student. Depending on your child’s grade, two to five books will be more than enough. But be sure to check with their teacher as they may have specific requirements regarding how they are ruled – wide vs. college.
  9. Lunch Box – Unless your child goes to a school where lunch is supplied, they’ll need a lunch box to tote their sandwiches and snacks from home to class.
  10. Labels – With so many children in a room using similar supplies, items are prone to go missing or end up in someone else’s bag. Do yourself a favour by printing your child’s name on labels and adding them to their lunch bag, backpack, pencil box, and anything else you think might go missing.

Middle School, High School & University

The school supply needs for high school and university students are a little different than those of elementary school students. For example, unless you take art, you don’t necessarily want to be seen carrying around a package of washable felt markers. The top ten essentials for students in Grade 6 and above are:

  1. Pens – by Grade 7, students will have likely made the transition from pencils to pens. For reasons I am still unsure of (any teachers out there?) blue pens are typically preferred over black, so equip your child with about 10 blue pens, and 3 red and they should be set for the school year. Keep in mind that pencils will still have their place in the older student’s school supply arsenal, especially for classes like Math and for taking multiple choice exams.
  1. Paper – While some say that paper use in school will be a thing of the past by 2020, for now, it’s an absolute necessity. One package of 200 sheets of loose leaf ruled paper per subject should suffice, but maybe throw in an extra pack to be safe.


  1. Binders – And where will you store all that paper? In a binder of course. I always preferred to have one 1” or 1½” binder per subject (in different colours, obviously) – 1” for classes like English and Math, and 1½” for classes like Chemistry and Biology. It made toting homework home much lighter, except on those days when I had homework for every subject, and kept me organized throughout the school year. Make sure you opt for durable, quality binders so they last all year.
  2. Dividers – Some teachers require students to have dividers in their binders, but even if not required, I highly recommend them. By breaking your binder into sub sections, like notes, homework, and completed tests you’re child is sure to stay organized. Opt for dividers with insertable tabs so they can be customized based on the subject.


  1. Wite-Out – There’s nothing worse than messy notes or homework assignments, so one or two Wite-Out correction tapes will definitely come in handy. Steer clear of the old-school liquid version though as it is messy, takes time to dry, and clumps up if not used within a few months time.
  1. Highlighters – In the older grades, highlighters serve multiple purposes and make great study aids, especially when using flash cards to learn key pieces of information. And while high-school students aren’t allowed to use them to mark up their text books, that’s their number one purpose among university students.
  1. Index Cards – Index cards make fabulous study aids for every subject. I can’t even count how many packages I went through in my academic career, but they were a lifesaver. Your child can write the question on the front of the card and the answer on the back and ace their next exam.
  1. Scientific calculator – Math is mandatory until Grade 11, so a scientific calculator with fractional and exponential capabilities will be needed. Ugh, math.
  1. Printer Ink – Running out of ink when you are in the middle of printing a completed assignment, project, or paper is not fun. Make sure you have a back up of ink for your printer so late night panic attacks and crying fits are mitigated as much as possible.
  2. Agenda – Sure, everyone has a smartphone or tablet these days, but there’s nothing quite as handy as a planner or agenda to track homework, assignments, work schedules, and a social life. From small pocket planners, to large leather-bound books, there is definitely a planner out there to suit you child’s needs.

To make back to school shopping as painless as possible, you can find everything you need online at BestBuy.ca. You can order any time of the day or night, and don’t need to leave the comfort of your home (or vacation for that matter). Just select everything you need and choose to have your purchase delivered to a Best Buy store nearest to you, or opt to have everything shipped – it’s free for purchases over $25, so you can’t go wrong!

Check out all the school supplies available at Best Buy here.

Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.