Family & Home/ Kids

The Stuff Your Middle Schooler Really Needs, Now

Earlier this month, your school probably sent out a supply list with the normal folders and pencils, and you dutifully braved the “back-to-school” crowds to purchase them. But what do your kids really need to start middle school strong? Here’s a supplemental list to help your kids thrive this year:


Alarm clock. If your kid can get to and from school independently, and has finally figured out how to get himself in the shower every day, it’s time for him to take charge of his mornings. Learning to set an alarm—and actually to get out of bed to turn it off—is an important step in being treated like a big kid.

Organizing tools. Eventually, every kid has to take charge of knowing what needs to get done, and when. Suggestions:

  • A write-on, wipe-off calendar or dry erase board—so he can track sports games, big tests, and an increasingly crowded social schedule. And so you can hear “What? You never told me…” a little less often.
  • A pack of lined index cards. Making flash cards is an independent and effective way to study, whether it’s vocabulary or key science concepts.
  • An index card storage file. Flashcards only work if you can find them.


Extra study guides. The “Big Fat Notebooks” middle school study guides present the important information for five core classes, just as if your student has borrowed the notes from the smartest kid in class. Big ideas are clearly marked. Doodles make key concepts easy to understand. Mnemonics offer memorable shortcuts. Quizzes help make sure he understands the information as he goes. These books are perfect for exam review, and as a homework reference. And they’re a huge help for frustrated parents who find they can’t quite explain the pre-algebra concept or what happened at the Battle of Saratoga and why. (Hey, you knew it once. We’re sure you did.)


Educational Games. You want to make sure your kid doesn’t just watch TV when she gets home? Introduce some fun educational games, like BrainQuest decks, which are available all the way through 7th grade. You’ll never have to worry about her brain going to mush outside of school again.

Water bottle. Buy a cheap one. Actually, buy a few. Chalk it up to their developing brains, but these bottles will migrate to the school lost & found and your kid will be too cool to be seen rooting around in those bins at school. Optimistically write her name on it with Sharpie anyway, so if another parent finds it in her backseat after soccer carpool, she can return it. (And make your kid promise: water only. When a closed bottle is discovered under the laundry pile a few weeks or months after it landed there, you don’t want to discover it contained chocolate milk.)

Deodorizing sneaker balls. (Dryer sheets work in a pinch.) Trust us.

Find My iPhone app or Tile tracking device. You thought he was ready for a phone. He promised you he was ready. But the odds are good at some point it will disappear – even if it’s just under the bed or in the yard. These apps will help you find it before you totally lose your cool.

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