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Must-Haves for Middle School

You've got the sharpened pencils and stylish sweaters. What else will your child need to survive?
 

Learning Benefits

As you help your child gear up for middle school, you may wonder which gadgets and items are essential. We turned to parents of middle-school students to see which items their kids couldn’t live without. Here are ten things they agree make the grade:

  • Calculator. A good one is a must for math classes in most schools. Before making this purchase, though, find out which calculator your child’s teachers recommend or require.
     
  • Shelf for locker. Adding an inexpensive shelf is a smart way to make the most of the slender space provided in most typical lockers. Shop your local housewares store for a shelf that fits the dimensions of the lockers at your child’s school.
     
  • Combination lock. Experienced parents recommend the type that can be reset with a new combination in case the current one is discovered. If you think your child will have trouble remembering a numeric combination, consider a lock with letters instead. Just be sure he chooses a word or letter sequence that isn’t too obvious!
     
  • Cell phone. For calling home for a ride or getting help in an emergency, mobile phones can come in handy. For that reason, some parents advise giving students one even though many schools don’t allow their use. If you decide to equip your child, check out contract-free, pay-as-you-go plans, and consider phones designed especially for kids.
     
  • USB flash drive. This high-tech helper, sometimes called a pen drive, is becoming popular with middle-school and high-school students. It’s a small, portable device that allows users to store computer files and easily transport them between school and home.
     
  • Small purse or pouch. For girls, a small purse or zippered pouch is a discreet and organized way to carry feminine items. It can be stashed in a locker or carried in a backpack or other book bag so it’s always on hand when needed.
     
  • Watch. If your child isn’t already wearing a watch regularly, now is a great time to start, since he’ll be juggling a busy schedule of classes and activities. Let him help choose a style that he’ll feel comfortable wearing every day.
     
  • Backpack. A sturdy bag is essential for toting books and the other supplies, and a backpack is a good hands-free choice. To select one that’s safe and comfortable, keep these tips from the American Physical Therapy Association in mind:
    • Look for a pack with a padded back to reduce pressure on the back, shoulders and underarm regions.
    • Opt for a bag with multiple compartments. They’ll hold items securely while better distributing weight.
    • Use hip and chest belts to transfer some of the weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.
    • Choose a backpack with reflective material so your child is more visible to drivers after dark.
  • Wallet. Many schools require students to carry a student ID, and a wallet is the perfect place to stash it. You’ll also want to tuck a few small bills for lunch and other incidentals into the wallet. (Now’s a good time to review allowance policies too, and give your child more responsibility for his own budget.)
     
  • Wall calendar or planner. Between homework assignments, sports and music practices, and social events, students have plenty of dates to track. Some sort of calendar is essential, and wall calendars and carry-along planners seem to be the most popular options. A small date-book that your child can take with her is a smart place to jot down deadlines, to-do lists, and reminders.
     
  • Alarm clock. Supply him with a reliable alarm clock, and you can turn the responsibility of wake-up time over to your child. Whether it beeps, lights up, or plays music doesn’t matter. If it gets him out of bed, it’s a go!

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