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No-Stress Guide For Back To School Essentials [2024]

Another year of education is due to kick off so it’s time to get organised with all the back to school essentials again. You won’t forget a thing with all the school necessities and back to school tips in one place.

Guide to back to school essentials for kids


Preparing for a new school year can be daunting for parents, especially if you are a first-time school parent.

There are so many different things kids need to kick off their year of education and it can be easy to overlook something until the last minute.

What makes it extra challenging is the fact every school is different and each has unique requirements and rules in place. From uniforms to school shoes, school supplies to lunch boxes and everything in between.

If your child is attending a private school, planning may be easier as most supplies are provided as part of your school fees and uniforms are strict.

For other schools, families are required to organise everything on the back to school checklist themselves, right down to the pencils their child will be using.

It can all add up quickly too, so you want to ensure you are choosing items that are durable enough to last more than a few months. Especially for those back to school essentials they use each year!

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Help reduce first-day nerves with these picture books about starting school to read with your kids.

The Best School Lunch Boxes

When it comes to choosing the best lunch box for your child, you want something sturdy enough to last the year and ideally beyond. You also want a lunch box that is big enough to fit enough food to fill them up. Learning can be hungry business!

Here are some of the best lunch boxes & lunch bags recommended by real mums:

best lunch box for back to school
lunch box back to school essentials

Healthy school lunch box ideas

Make back to school easier by simplifying your meal planning with EveryPlate meal kits. These weekly meal kits are loaded with delicious recipes you get to choose, that are easy to make, family-friendly and affordable!

The Best School Bags

Just like lunch boxes, having a school bag that lasts longer than a year is a great investment. If you find one sturdy enough to last several years, and suitable across a range of grades, it is worth it to pay a little extra.

This year we have Harlequin school bags, after an overwhelming recommendation for them when the time came to upgrade. They come in several styles, to suit kindy, primary and high school students. They also have a lifetime warranty.

You can personalise them with your child’s name and a cute picture as well, which gives them a splash of fun since it may not be their favourite Disney character-themed school bag they wanted.

Here are some other great school backpacks to consider:

best school bag
  • Kids Elementary School Bag – Cute patterns and colours, water-resistant and easy to clean with 4 compartments for organisation.

The Best Drink Bottles For School Kids

A drink bottle needs to be kid-proof. Kids are prone to dropping things, and the last thing you want is for their new drink bottle to crack on day 3 of the new school term. Go for something that can withstand semi-regular drops and one that is also big enough to keep them hydrated through summer.

We used 500ML bottles, although in summer switch to 750ML instead when they tend to drink more. And being a hot climate here in Queensland, Australia, we use an insulated reusable water bottle to stay cool throughout the hot summer days.

Here are some great school drink bottle options:

best drink bottle
drink bottle
best back to school drink bottle

School Name Labels

The last thing any parent wants to do is spend money replacing lost belongings. Hats, jumpers and jackets are the most frequent casualties of lost property. We were lucky this year that all our missing items eventually came back, most likely due to being well labelled.

Label everything! If in doubt, label it. If you’re worried the label may come off, write on it too!

Bright star kids school labels

Here are some of our favourite school label options:

  • Bright Star Kids (Global) – Name label stickers and school accessories
  • Stamptastic (Global) – Long-lasting name stamps for clothing and belongings

The Best School Shoes For Kids

Choosing the right school shoes is so important. You want your child to be comfortable. They need to have the right type of shoes to suit their needs.

And you want something that will last more than 3 weeks that doesn’t cost a fortune!

The best option is to wait until close to the start of school before getting school shoes, but don’t leave it until the last minute like everyone else. Avoid the chaos by going a week or two earlier for shoe shopping.

Back to school essentials - school shoes

Some schools require proper leather upper black school shoes. Others are happy with any closed-in shoes. Make sure you know the uniform requirements before you shop.

We stick with black sneakers for our kids, as black shoes are the requirement and sneakers work across all situations compared to dressy school shoes. However, having both varieties is required for many schools. Especially if your child attends a private school or college.

The Best School Book Covers

Growing up I remember being the kid with the bubbled contact. Mum was terrible at contacting my exercise books and she has passed that trait onto me. So let me give you mums and dads an alternative to love instead… reusable book covers!

As the name suggests, plastic book covers go over your child’s exercise books to keep them from getting too tattered through the school year.

The best part (aside from the fact you don’t have to contact anything) is the fact that they are reusable for next year too! Providing your kid doesn’t poke holes in them with their pencils.

Book List Supplies

back to school Essential school stationery supplies

Where you shop for your booklist supplies will depend on your school.

Some schools offer a levy option and supply it for you, others will have a partnership with a local school supply store and you can pay for them to pack and send it all for you.

Otherwise, you get the fun job of shopping for all the stationery and art supplies yourself.

This means everything from coloured pencils to the pencil sharpener, pencil cases, exercise books, pens, erasers, glue sticks, highlighters and everything else required for their learning journey for the new year.

We usually do most of our shopping list online at Officeworks here in Australia. There are plenty of other options available though, such as local department, stationery or newsagents stores.

Or shop online on Amazon or another retailer instead, so you can avoid the back to school shopping chaos.

Don’t Forget These School Essentials

There are a few extra things you may wish you stocked up on before the school term kicked off, and lucky for you reading this, you will be organised down to the last ponytail!

While some of the essentials listed in this back-to-school essentials guide aren’t relevant for high school or college students, it helps to consider everything you might need for returning to school.

Here are those other essentials often forgotten:

  • Socks A fresh pack of school socks will avoid the last-minute odd-sock situation
  • Hair accessories Some schools are strict on accessories so don’t forget the school coloured hairbands and clips
  • Homework basics – Ensure you have spare pencils and stationary at home to do homework
  • Hand sanitiser – These days sanitiser is an essential that should be in every bag you and your kids use regularly

Each school will have a different routine for bringing school supplies into the classroom. Some schools have an open classroom day before the school year begins, allowing you a chance to come in and meet with your child’s teacher and avoid the first-day rush.

Otherwise, have everything ready to go for your child’s first day so there is no stress on this milestone date each year.

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Tips For Saving Money On School Supplies

Back to school can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be quite as harsh on the family budget. Here are a few tips for saving money on school supplies:

  • Shop sales and clearance racks – You can often find great deals on last year’s models or seasonal items that are no longer needed.
  • Reuse what you can – See if your child can reuse last year’s backpack or lunch box. Before you shop, see what supplies they brought home from the previous year that can be used again this year. Our school always sends home unused supplies at the end of the year and it can drastically reduce what we need to buy.
  • Shop around – Instead of going for the most convenient option, if you have time to shop around you can likely save a lot by visiting department stores and dollar stores for many school supplies.
  • Check with your local school district or community centre for free or low-cost supplies – Many organisations offer free or low-cost school supplies for families in need. If you are struggling to cover costs, it is worth looking into options to help.

With a little bit of planning, you can save yourself some money on school supplies this year. Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Be the most organised mum on the block with this back to school essentials checklist covered in time for the new school year. Time to start packing those school bags and lunch boxes again soon! And preparing for that first day of school photo!