It's that time again, for backpacks and early morning scrambles to get ready for school. For hurried breakfasts and extra traffic, of homework and early bedtimes...

Despite all of their complaints and cries of 'don't want to!', you have been sending the little ones to bed on time, right?

Whether excited about the start of school or not - and, after last year, who wouldn't be? - it's once again time for kids to revert to being students. Or, if this year marks your child's school debut, to join the ranks of students.

Of course, returning to school means back-to-school supplies; maybe even a new set of uniforms. Probably a new set; primary school kids outgrow everything far too fast!

What should you have on your school shopping list? Let Superprof give you a few ideas.

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Primary Back to School Stationery

For some kids, there is nothing more uninspiring than receiving brand new pencils, pens and packages of paper. As far as they're concerned, why spend all that money on school supplies when a game console or new electronic device would be a much better way to spend it?

Looking at it from a 'value for the money' perspective - how much use and enjoyment they'll get out of a game compared to dull, stodgy old school supplies, those students have a point.

Some students don't get excited about a big box of school supplies
Some students, a box of school supplies is about as exciting as a trip to the dentist. Photo credit: jadedbeth on Visualhunt.com

On the other end of the spectrum are those kids who eagerly collect all of their back to school bounty and immediately proceed to play Store. They're the shopkeeper and others must come and buy all the wondrous things they have. For them, it's a shame that the pens and pencils must be taken out of their packages and put into pencil cases; it ruins the whole concept of their game.

Unfortunately for the shopkeeper type and happily for those uninspired by piles of pencils, primary school students generally do not need as much stationery as students with a secondary school shopping checklist. That's because primary schools tend to furnish what's needed for classwork; the stationery you buy will likely be used at home.

It's better to be safe than sorry, though. Be sure to check with your child's headteacher to see if they require you to provide any or all of the writing implements and notebooks for classroom use.

However, things play out, as a baseline, consider tossing these items into your shopping trolley:

  • pencils
  • a pencil sharpener
  • rubbers
  • handwriting pens
  • coloured pencils
  • a ruler
  • a glue stick
  • lined notebooks

Keep in mind that your child's school may have a few more items on their lists that you'll be expected to provide. Every school and even every class is different; your child's teacher may have a few exciting lessons planned that call for art supplies like paints and glitter.

Primary School Uniforms

For the most part, UK parents have no major objection to the Department for Education' uniform policy, particularly as it is meant to level the playing field. It's rather hard to bully a classmate for off-brand clothes when everyone is wearing the same thing, right?

There may be some grumbles about the cost of school uniforms - depending on the school and region you live in but, overall, everyone is on board with the idea. And, should a family have a hard time buying uniforms, there's help available either from charities or their local council, or the school itself.

As most UK schools require students to wear uniforms, you can count on spending most of your back to primary school budget on them.

Some schools' uniforms include a blazer, usually one with a school crest on the breast pocket. Other schools content themselves with a jumper or cardigan, with or without a school crest. If your school dress code includes a blazer, you may get by with buying just one but, for the cardigan/jumper route, you'll probably need at least two.

Your student may have to have such a jumper
Some school uniforms require jumpers while others include blazers. Photo credit: Andy Wilkes on VisualHunt.com

As you're shopping for a primary schooler, you may consider only buying a couple of polo or button-down shirts lest your student burst into a mid-term growth spurt that would cause you to have to buy anew. However, if you're confident there's no dramatic size gain in the offing - maybe there's just been a massive amount of growth, think about picking up a few more shirts.

A couple of pairs of trousers or, if your student is female, one pair of trousers and a skirt should do nicely - always provided your school's uniform policy allows female students to wear trousers.

Socks and shoes are so obvious we only need to mention them in the context of passing muster. Some schools permit only certain colours of socks and/or shoes; it would be best to check with your child's school before buying.

One final uniform store purchase: a tie. Some schools require ties; some don't. Again, it's best to check with your child's school. While you're at it, ask if a uniform weatherproof overcoat is required.

As your back to school shopping list grows, you might start wondering where you can find everything...

Gym Kit Checklist for Primary Schools

Schools' uniform concept extends into the physical fitness domain. For Physical Education classes, your student will also need a uniform.

At the very least, your list should have shorts, a tee-shirt or polo shirt and socks on it. Shoes, whether trainers or plimsolls only need to be bought if the school has a specific requirement or your child is about to outgrow the pair they already have. Beware, though, that indoor Phys Ed classes may require gym shoes that have never been worn outdoors.

As you consider your students' school uniform needs - for P.E. and for the classroom, remember the tradition; buy big so that they can grow into them as the year progresses. That quirky habit is great for clothing but maybe not so good for the shoes. We don't want anyone to trip and fall!

Also, discover how schools are keeping kids safe in these COVID times...

Miscellaneous Back to School Supplies

Ah, if only back to school shopping could be as easy as checking things off of an all-inclusive list! Unfortunately, there are entire lists of good-to-have, nice-to-have and maybe-should-have items that beckon from store shelves and shopping aisles.

Take book covers, for instance. Some schools require them but many don't. After all, they don't contribute to students' learning experience and they are not necessary to do any kind of work, in school or at home.

Still, book covers are good to have as they protect books from undue wear and tear and, the better textbooks are preserved, the longer their usage, which saves us all money in the long run because the school won't have to buy new books as often.

So consider adding book covers to your shopping list.

It's best to have a hard shell pencil case in primary school
For younger students, a hard shell pencil case would probably be best and masks are not necessary this year. Photo credit: wuestenigel on VisualHunt.com

Pencil cases are another good-to-have item. Some schools expect students to keep their writing instruments neatly in a case; others don't. You may put the extra expense of such a case down to saving money in the long run; imagine how many pencils will break from being tossed into a bookbag, unprotected.

And, speaking of bookbags... last year's may still be serviceable but, if not - if your child has outgrown it, you will likely need to buy a new one.

You may also see buying a snack box as a money saver. Rather than packing your primary schoolers' snacks in a disposable bag - and then continue having to buy a new supply of bags, snack boxes are sturdy enough to protect the snack and last the whole school year.

Besides, think of what all those disposable bags do to the environment.

Along with a snack box, go ahead and pick up a water bottle. The same reasons for the snack box apply to the bottle. For one, it will be much cheaper in the long run to buy a reusable bottle than cartons of drink boxes and, again, you'll be doing your part to reduce waste.

And another reason for boxes and bottles: they can be expressions of individuality. School uniforms don't leave much room for students to signal their own preferences; having a themed snack box or a favourite coloured water bottle is an assertion of individuality in a sea of homogeneity. So, if your school allows a personal selection of bottles and boxes, let your student pick theirs out.

Thankfully, this year, our students don't need to mask up but they should still bring hand sanitiser to school. A travel-size bottle should do the trick; you might also consider wet wipes for a less messy way to wash hands on the go if yours is one of the youngest students.

Finally: don't forget the labels, especially if this is your primary school student's first year in school. You will likely be asked to label everything from pencil cases to cardigans and gym kit to lunch boxes. In some cases, a fabric pen might do the trick - and a Sharpie marker to write on the water bottle, but notebooks and the like would be better labelled than written on.

Now, join the discussion: will your student eat lunch in school or bring a packed lunch? What do you recommend as the ideal healthy lunch for a primary school student?

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Sophia

A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.