Back-to-School Supplies to Prepare Your Tween for Middle School


I remember when shopping for back-to-school supplies was creative. Colorful crayons, construction paper, and tiny scissors lined the bottom of my shopping cart. But now, with my tween son heading into middle school, preparing for his academic year has gone well beyond back-to-school supplies created for arts and crafts. Instead, he needs a sturdy back pack, a reliable lap top, notebooks, calculators, and more to facilitate his studies in the digital age. Reminiscing on my "wait in line to use a computer in the library" experience from college, I am thrilled to see the advances in education and all that is available to kids these days. Let the learning begin! But only after a little back-to-school shopping, right?

Back-to-School Supplies

Recommended Back-to-School Supplies for Your Middle Schooler

When Staples offered to send me a lap top and back pack to outfit my oldest son for middle school, I started thinking seriously about all the other necessary back-to-school supplies to make my 12-year old's entrance to middle school a success. Not having ever braved the middle school back-to-school supplies shopping waters, I reached out to the Mom It Forward Community for some tips and wow was their advice helpful. Here are some great things they suggested:

  • Back-to-School SuppliesThe basics. Jennifer shared the importance of covering the basic back-to-school supplies like calculators, highlighters, report covers, printer ink, or copy cards. I always run out of printer ink, so I especially appreciated that reminder.
  • Beyond the basics. Once you have the basics covered, Carrie suggests considering the following:¬†Stretchable book covers, a flash drive, required gym clothes, up-to-date vaccines, craft supplies (Styrofoam balls, paint, markers, poster board, colored paper, balsa wood, etc.), copier paper, girls may want to keep extra hair bands in their lockers, boys may want an extra t-shirt, black or blue ballpoint pens, automatic pencils (no sharpening needed), colored pencils (for maps), several three-prong folders with pockets (one for each class), and earbuds.
  • Flash cards. Several people, including Natasha, recommended having flash cards to facilitate learning. Great idea!
  • Feminine products. As a mom to two boys, I wouldn't have put that on my list. But, thinking back to my own middle school years, I know how important it is to be well stocked up on such items. Thanks, Sandy, for the recommendation.
  • Online study helps. As Sara pointed out, websites, apps, and other digital tools provide so much tutoring and educational and study helps. This post spells out tremendous online educational resources like Khan Academy, Quizlet, and more. It's worth bookmarking!
  • A back pack. Carrying heavy books and back-to-school supplies around requires a sturdy back pack. My recommendation is to involve your middle school student in the decision, researching together the benefits each style has to offer as well as assessing what look he or she prefers. My son didn't go with the fanciest option. He liked the style of this backpack, but more than that, he loved the benefits of having multiple sections and places to store things like notebooks, books, his lap top, and pens/pencils.
  • A lap top. If your school requires a tablet, an eReader, or a lap top, having a protective back pack will be worth its weight in gold. But, ensuring you choose the right device is equally as important. We opted for a smaller and lighter weight computer but from a brand we trust. We went with Dell based on experience and love the 14-inch screen. Staples had so many options to choose from and the one we selected was under $800. Not only did it have a low price tag, but it came with Windows 8 and a touch screen. Score!

Check back for part two in our two-part series of back-to-school supply posts where we discuss study tips to prepare your middle schooler for a successful academic year.

What back-to-school supplies top your shopping list for middle schoolers?


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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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