Whether the school year is underway or just about to start, this list of school year essentials for all ages is designed to get your family through the months to come. This isn’t a must-have list of things to have before school. Instead, this list features a few products for each age group that are helpful to families throughout the school year.
School Year Essentials for All Ages
Today I’m sharing just a few favorites for each age group including one of my high school senior’s favorite brands, things my college sophomore says would be great to include in a care package, and a solution to keep our kid safe online. There are motivational lunchbox cards designed for elementary ages, conversation starters for middle schoolers, eco-friendly school supplies for all ages, and more! Here are just a few school year essentials for all ages.
School Year Essentials for Elementary Schoolers
I am in love with the vibrant designs and words of empowerment on the Bites of Brilliance Lunch Box Note Cards! Every kid can benefit from a midday message that celebrates strength, resilience, and the awesomeness of being unique. I also like how there’s space on the back to write your own message to go along with the printed one on the front.
Bites of Brilliance are made by Kids Crafts™, a woman-owned small business committed to social impact that donates a portion of their proceeds to non-profit organizations that empower girls across the globe. Free shipping on all US orders or $16.99 from Amazon.
Aura (get 60% off the annual price of $99 until Labor Day)
Keeping kids safe from online predators, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content feels like a formidable task especially when monitoring screen time and ensuring their personal information stays safe. Aura is an online digital safety and identity protection software company with the mission to create a safer internet. With Aura, you can prevent access to websites and applications, establish time limits for screen usage, and know when your kids try to access blocked sites and apps. I also love that Aura’s comprehensive features help you streamline many parental controls tools into a single platform where everything is visible on one dashboard. Get 60% off Aura when you sign up before Labor Day. Read my full review of Aura here.
Wanderwild Backpacks and Lunchboxes (starting at $35)
If the backpack your child is using starts to fall apart part way through the year, replace it with a Wanderwild backpack. Founded by two moms with a love of cheerful patterns and purposeful features, Wanderwild puts a lot of care and detail into each design. Backpacks fit just right, have tons of great features like lots of pockets, and details meant for little fingers. They’re great for school but also to take on adventures well beyond the classroom.
Add a darling matching lunchbox for a complete set and not only will you be supporting a woman owned small business through your purchase, but Wanderwild will donate a part of the sale to carefully selected organizations that exist to address childhood hunger, education needs, and spreading kindness. Get 20% off with the code BACKTOSCHOOL and enjoy free USPS shipping on all orders.
Go beyond the usual How was your day? or What did you do at school today? with TableTopics Family Conversation Cards. Each set features a mix of fun, age-appropriate questions that range from silly to thought-provoking.
Examples include: What’s your favorite thing to do at recess? If you could speak another language, which would you choose? Is it more fun to be a parent or a child? What family or school rule would you most like to change? Best for ages 6+
School Year Essentials for Middle Schoolers
Big Fat Notebooks ($11.99 each)
The Big Fat Notebooks are a revolutionary study guide series just for middle school students built on the concept of borrowing notes from the smartest kid in class. Created by the brains behind Brain Quest, this collection of six books that includes everything you need for middle school Math, Science, American History, World History, English/Language Arts, and Computer Science.
Each Notebook presents concepts in a variety of ways to appeal to different learning styles to make learning the things your middle schooler needs to know a bit more fun. I’ve always been a big fan of the bright colors, sketches, various fonts, and doodles that make these look more like your BFF’s notebook than a study resource. For my full review, visit this post: Big Fat Notebooks: Essential Homework Help for Middle Schoolers Makes Learning Fun.
Here’s a secret- middle schoolers will talk in more than single syllable answers if you ask them the right questions! TableTopics Teen Conversation Cards are perfect to use to create conversations with your teens thanks to a collection of age-appropriate questions that are fun yet inquisitive.
Examples include: What’s the most text messages you’ve sent in a month? What do you most enjoy doing by yourself? If you could shop for free at one store, which one would you choose? How do you measure success? If you could change places with anyone, who would you choose? The questions are thought provoking and your teen’s answers are sure to provide some helpful insight into who they are to help you form more meaningful connections with them. Best for ages 13+
Aquaphor Lip Repair Stick ($8.39 for a 2 pack from Amazon)
I’ve relied on Aquaphor Lip Repair Stick to keep my lips moisturized while teaching all day because the air in schools can be incredibly drying. Aquaphor Lip Repair Sticks come in a 2 pack and are perfect for teaching healthy hygiene habits early on. Tuck one in your middle schooler’s pencil case and keep the other at home on their nightstand to keep lips moisturized throughout the year. If your child needs a lip moisturizer with sunscreen, try Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen (single tube $4.49 from Amazon).
School Year Essentials for High Schoolers
Stance Socks (starting at $11.99)
My 17 year old high school senior loves Stance, especially their socks that come in colorful designs, contemporary patterns, and the coolest colors to complement his ‘fit. Cool designs or trendy solids come in just the right thickness of soft cotton or a poly blend. Stance socks come in a variety of lengths ranging from over the calf, crew, quarter height, tabs, lows, to no show. Whatever the length, Stance socks help your teen add a little color to their life and are a welcome change from basic white.
For high schoolers who are always on the go due to a myriad of activities, the Cypress Hero Backpack with Find My Locator is a must. It features an integrated location module that uses low energy Bluetooth that seamlessly and securely pairs with the Apple® Find My® network so your high schooler can locate their backpack via iPhone, iPad®, or Mac® quickly and easily using the Apple Find My app. The location module is securely integrated into the design of the backpack making it difficult for potential thieves to remove. Its ergonomic 22L capacity features enough space to hold a 15.6” laptop in the dedicated padded compartment. It also has a large main compartment for gear, pocket for smaller accessories, and a quick=stash pocket on the front, perfect for holding a wallet and phone. The adjustable straps and triple padded back panel provide comfort as your high schooler grows. The Cypress Hero is made out of 26 recycled water bottles and features water-resistant fabric. It’s a great choice for busy high school seniors especially since this would also be a good backpack to take to college.
School Year Essentials for College Students
Spot Detergent Sheets (60 loads for $8.99)
Spot Detergent Sheets might just be my new favorite thing and I’m sharing my love of them with everyone I know, but especially my college-age daughter. Gone are the days of her lugging a bag of pods or jug of detergent to her dorm laundry room. Each paper package of Spot Detergent Sheets contains enough for 10 loads. Sheets are pre-measured, plastic free, have no harsh chemicals, are hypoallergenic, and have a truly delightful scent that has been filling my office all week. Made in Sweden, Spot Detergent Sheets couldn’t be easier to use. Tear off half of a perforated sheet and throw it in the laundry. It works just as well as your normal detergent and is a great way to be eco-friendly on a budget.
QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds ($289)
Snoring roommates, noisy neighbors, campus noise, and more can interrupt your college student’s sleep and prevent them from getting the rest they need to be at their best each day. Help them sleep better and wake up refreshed with the help of QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds. Unlike the earbuds your college student may already own, QuietOn are specifically designed for sleeping. They don’t play white noise, lack Bluetooth connectivity to listen to music, and are without electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation. They use premium Active Noise Cancelling technology to reduce sounds that disturb sleep but still allow the noise of the alarm clock to be heard for morning wake up. QuietOn tuck right into your ears and stay there all night. I love that they came with 4 different sizes of eartips for the perfect fit. QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds charge directly in the case and last for 28 hours on a single charge.
Central Perk Coffee ($16.99)
Fuel late nights of studying or early morning classes with Central Perk Coffee. Choose from 6 different artisanal blends with names Friends fans will love. Oh.My.GAWD! (Cold Brew Blend), Gunther! (Espresso), Moo Point (Central Perk’s Decaf Blend), Pivot Blend (Medium Dark Roast), We Were on a “Coffee Break (Dark Roast), and How You Doin’? (Medium Roast) are available through a curated multi-blend variety pack coffee subscription, whole bean, ground coffee, as well as single pods. Central Perk are sustainably sourced, produced and packaged using responsible environmental practices and can ship directly to college mail rooms or apartments.
Products were received for consideration but no compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included in this post.