Back to School Shopping for a Virtual School Year

August 27, 2020

Back to School Shopping for a Virtual School Year

Back in mid-July, Los Angeles and San Diego schools announced that they would adopt a virtual learning environment when class began in the fall. Nashville and Atlanta announced their plans for virtual learning, too, and many other cities adopted hybrid models–partial in-school and virtual learning–for fall.

Parents may find themselves scrambling to find childcare or work from home options to ensure that their children keep up with online lessons and aren’t left unsupervised. Adapting to a virtual fall semester isn’t going to be easy for many working parents; some may quit their jobs to stay home, others may struggle financially to try to make the situation work by enrolling their child in daycare. Some parents may even create their own homeschool program.

There is, however, one small glimmer that’s positive in this set-up: school shopping might not be so incredibly expensive. Every year, parents run down the exhaustive supply list mandated by schools; the list typically includes items like facial tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, extra glue (LOTS of extra glue), paper towels and sandwich bags.

Back to School Supplies

Parents have complained for years that the supply lists are out of control. After all, how can kids need–or use–24 glue sticks? As school budgets are tightened, parents are forced to purchase items that the district–and the teachers–can’t provide. However, as Slate reported, some school lists have included brand-specific requests as well as copy paper.

Going virtual means parents can be in control of the lists this year…well, at least for the fall semester. What does your student need during virtual learning? Here are our recommendations:

  • A Laptop, PC or Chromebook

Many school districts provide laptops of Chromebooks at no charge to students. Some districts utilize one-to-one computing in the normal school year, so children already may be equipped with this must-have technology.

If you don’t own a computer, please reachout to the school. The district may be able to provide a laptop and/or wifi hotspot to the family.

  • A pack of pencils

Your child doesn’t need 30 pencils. Just buy a small pack, a pencil sharpener and some erasers. Buy only what you need.

  • Lined paper

Math is easier with lined paper; so is writing. Even if kids are expected to submit essays or writing assignments online, have them draft their work on paper. Buy a pack of wide-ruled paper for daily assignments.

  • Notebooks or Binders

Buy a notebook or binder for each class or subject; this allows kids to take notes and to keep class info in one place. 

  • Extra erasers

Those little eraser nubs on pencils never last long. Buy a big pink eraser or pencil-top erasers instead!

  • A box of crayons

Let younger kids have one box of crayons for coloring assignments–if this is applicable. A new box of crayons is a bit of a rite of passage for kids for a new school year; keep this item on your list, especially since a small box is typically less than $1.

  • Hand sanitizer

If you can still find hand sanitizer, buy a bottle for the family. Fall is the beginning of the cold and flu season!

  • Memory sticks

Depending on what sites and programs your child will use via virtual learning, you may need to purchase a memory stick to save assignments and/or files. 

  • A printer (and paper)

Some assignments or worksheets might need to be printed. Kids also may learn material   better if they print out the assignment and highlight important information. A printer might not be a necessity, but it certainly can be an extra tool.

  • A quiet and comfortable workspace

U.S. News and World Report recommends a comfortable chair! When kids are sitting for hours learning online, they should be comfortable. Invest in a modestly priced desk chair that is comfortable and provides support. You also could score a great desk chair at a thrift store for a really cheap price!

  • Age-appropriate books

A child might not have access to a library, but kids still need to read daily. Order age-appropriate books online, or purchase low-cost books at secondhand stores or used bookstores.

Back to School Shopping for a Virtual School Year

What About Backpacks & Clothes?

Kids grow out of clothes quickly. If your child is outgrowing last year’s pants and tops, you may have to head online or to the store for some new clothes. However, since kids won’t be in class, the pricier brands can take a backseat this year. Peer influence over the wardrobe will be one less worry!

If your child’s backpack is still in good shape, keep it around for another year. Remember, they will likely only use it during the spring semester. There’s also no reason to invest in a new lunchbox.

This year, learning will look very different as many students head online to start the fall semester virtually. While this arrangement might not be convenient for parents, there is one glimmer of good news: less money to spend on supplies. Buy only the basics and take control of the list this year. Learning online means kids need fewer supplies than they would in the classroom. Now you can finally say good riddance to all those glue sticks! After all, two should suffice just fine!