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A basic list of supplies for high school to start the school year right.


What’s the smart way to shop for supplies for high school? Eliminate the guesswork by getting a list from your child’s teacher ahead of time or waiting until school starts to find out what’s actually required. The teacher may recommend specific brands, sizes, or quantities, but even if the list isn’t available, you can still take advantage of back-to-school sales (many states offer “tax-free days” during this season) by sticking to the basics recommended below. And remember, you can’t go wrong with tools that help kids get — and stay — organized.


The basic supplies for high school

  • No. 2 pencils
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil sharpener (manual with a top to collect shavings)
  • Large pink eraser
  • Ballpoint pens (Get a couple with red, green, or purple ink, too, because some teachers have students do peer editing.)
  • Spiral-bound or composition notebooks
  • Loose-leaf notebook paper (Teachers can be picky about paper — most ask that students use the college-ruled variety.)
  • Ruler with English and metric measurements
  • Organizational helpers
  • Several three-ring binders (Some teachers require that a binder be used exclusively for their class.)
  • Three-hole punch (a regular one or one that fits in a three-ring binder)
  • Pencil case that fits in a binder
  • Binder dividers (The kinds with pockets are good for loose papers.)
  • Pocket folders
  • Folders that fit in binders
  • Calendar or planner for scheduling or recording assignments
  • A sturdy, supportive backpack (Some schools do not permit rolling backpacks because of space considerations, so check with your school before considering this option.)
  • Two combination locks (If the school lockers do not have built-in locks, your child might need one for the hallway and one for the gym.)
  • Study aids
  • Index cards, ruled and unruled (These are great for making flash cards.)
  • Highlighters
  • Calculator or mobile phone with calculator. Check with the math teacher first before investing in an expensive calculator. Graphing calculators, for example, are required in some middle and high school math classes. Teachers advise parents not to buy a calculator with more functions than your students will use. Also check with the teacher to determine the policy on mobile phones that have calculators, and determine whether your child will use it responsibly.
  • Craft materials
  • Drawing paper
  • Construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Four-ounce bottle of white glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Stapler (Best is a mini stapler, which is easily portable, for last minute stapling emergencies!)
  • Scissors
  • Water-based markers
  • Home computer supplies
  • Printer paper
  • Ink cartridges
  • Nice-to-have supplies for high school
  • Stainless steel water bottle (Avoid plastic bottles that contain bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects and cancer.)
  • Posterboard for visual aid presentations
  • Flashdrive for powerpoint presentations
  • Locker organizer (and other accessories)

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