Make the busyness of back to school more manageable with this guide to everything your family needs for a smooth start to the year. As well as a rundown of the essential school supplies kids need to learn and grow, we asked experts and parents for their best tips and tricks for staying organised and helping kids find the fun in learning.

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of A is for art supplies with Faber-Castell markers and Crayola Inspiration Art Case on a light orange background.

A is for Art Supplies 

Our kids see before they speak. They also have big thoughts and feelings as they grow and some of these can be better understood when they get creative. Not only does engaging in art activities challenge their imagination and creativity, it improves brain development from early childhood. “For children, art is a way of communicating their ideas,” says Dr Gai Lindsay, a senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong’s School of Education in NSW. “It can be about immersing yourself in the art-marking process as much as it is about cognitive development and problem-solving.” 

Drawing, colouring, painting and sketching (to name a few art forms) inspire open-ended play and should be encouraged from as early as possible. “The benefits of visual arts are lifelong,” says Gai. “They enable people to play with materials, express their thinking, problem solve and make sense of emotions.” Keep pencils, paints, brushes and visual art diaries stashed at home that you can bring out after a long day in the classroom to help kids unwind.

What To Try

B is for BYOD 

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of B is for BYOD, with a tablet and laptop on a pink background.

Technology plays a huge role in kids’ modern lives and many schools require students to bring their own tech to class. With a wide-range of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) available, we take a look at a few that might be right for your kids.

For Primary Schoolers: Acer Aspire 1 14” Celeron 4/128GB Laptop

With 128GB, this device has enough storage for young students, plus comes with 4GB of RAM to keep things operating smoothly. It also comes loaded with Windows 11 and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365, features an integrated webcam and boasts a clever blue-light shield to help lessen the strain on young eyes.

For High Schoolers: ASUS 15.6" Chromebook CX1 Celeron 8GB/128GB

The chassis of this Asus Chromebook is structurally reinforced and the keyboard has been put through extensive durability testing, so you don’t have to worry about everyday bumps and accidents. That sturdiness does make it a bit heavier, so it’s better suited for an older child. Like all Chromebooks, this one uses Google Workspace and connects to any app on Google Play.

For Senior Students: Microsoft Surface Pro 9

This 2-in-1 device offers older kids the flexibility of a tablet, yet the performance of a laptop, so they can enjoy fast, reliable multitasking, web browsing and streaming. With an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on a solid-state drive, it boasts smooth and speedy performance to help them stay focused on the task at hand. For maximum efficiency (and enjoyment), pair with a compatible keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2 for note-taking and sketching.

SEE ALSO: Find the Right Laptop or Tablet for Your Kids

C is for Command Centre

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of C is for command centre, with a unicorn backpack, library bag and wall planner on a blue background

Make getting the whole family out the door this back to school period easier with a command centre – a central place in the home designed to keep everyone organised. It can be as simple or involved as you like, but the key is plenty of storage for essentials such as school bags, homework folders, hats and library bags. Don’t forget a large timetable or calendar to show where everyone is meant to be on any given day.

SEE ALSO: How to Create a School Command Centre

D is for Desks

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of D is for desks, with two office desks on a pale green background.

Shoes, a backpack and a lunchbox full of healthy goodies. You have the school supplies sorted, but what about when they get home? A designated space, complete with their own desk, will give kids a sense of ownership over their learning. When picking the right desk, it’s worth considering the size of the space it’s going in, how high it needs to be, whether you need additional storage and how often they’ll use it.

What To Try

E is for Experiments

 A text-based and deep-etched graphic of E is for experiments, with a child’s play toolkit and a science experiment kit on a pink background.‍

It’s time to have a blast! Activities where the kids can get their hands dirty and have fun without realising they’re actually learning in the process get a big tick from us. Letting children explore the world of trial and error through hands-on experimentation piques curiosity and helps develop problem-solving skills.

Experiments where children can see changes happen before their very eyes are a great way to encourage an interest in science. Even better, parents or caregivers don’t need a huge knowledge of the subject to take part. It can help to follow these three steps: Question, Guess and Check. In other words, ask a question, guess what the answer might be and test it out. Were they right or wrong?

Besides hands-on experimentation at home, you can also engage with science while out and about if your little one asks things such as, “Why is the sky blue?” You may not know the answers, but always encourage your child’s questions, ask them questions back and explore the answers together. Not only could you both learn something, but it makes for a fun bonding experience, too. 

What To Try

SEE ALSO: 5 Easy Gravity Experiments for Preschoolers

F is for First Day

 A text-based and deep-etched graphic of F is for first day, with two wipe-clean wall charts on a pale blue background.‍

Mum-of-two Sophie Brown, creator of lifestyle DIY brand @nestihome, has already been through the first day of back to school ‘big school’ jitters with her now eight-year-old son, Lachy, who is heading into Year 3. But, she’s about to do it all again with her other son Teddy, five. “We’ve been doing a few ‘practice runs’ – getting to school for drop off, which can be really helpful and can ease first-day nerves for both kids and parents!” the Melbourne resident says. “We’re really excited for Teddy, especially since he is so excited himself. He’s very keen to join his brother.”

Taking “far too many photos of the boys together at the front gate” is all part of the fun, before heading to a local cafe to take it all in. “The parents have a tradition of catching up after the first day drop off … which is a great chance to get together and also meet other parents from the year level,” she says. “After school we’ll take the boys out for a special ice-cream treat, which is what we did with Lachy.”

What To Try

G is for Globes

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of G is for globes, with an inflatable globe and a traditional world globe on a pale orange background.‍

The world is big and visual representation is the perfect way to get your child familiar with where our country sits on the grand scale. Physically spinning and touching the globe promotes kinesthetic stimulation (passive motion of the limbs), giving them a better understanding of a three-dimensional world. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! Teaching geographical knowledge and learning how to read globes can also tap into political and economic aspects of countries around the world, opening up discussions to cross-cultural understanding and starting bigger conversations on global events and issues as your kids get older. You can also show them where those relatives and friends abroad live with a quick spin.

What To Try

H is for Homework Hub

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of H is for homework hu, with a lilac computer mouse and a mint green desk tidy on a pale blue background.

Fostering learning after a long day at school can be tough, especially in the early years of school. Creating a space where kids feel comfortable reading, writing, solving maths problems or working on assignments is essential, and that’s where a dedicated desk area or homework hub comes in. These tips will help you set up a practical and inviting space they’ll love.

SEE ALSO: How to Set Up a Homework Hub

I is for Index cards

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of I is for index cards, with assorted coloured striped index cards on a pale green background.

From class presentations to debating, flashcards fit snugly into the palm of kids’ hands. They’re also great for jotting down notes or used as prompt cards around the house: “Don’t forget sports shoes tomorrow!” For younger kids, lined versions can be used to practise handwriting and their size makes them perfect for handmade postcards for loved ones. 

What To Try

J is for Journals

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of J is for journals, with a monogram J notebook and a wellbeing journal for kids on a pale pink background.‍

Perhaps as a child you kept your journal or diary under your mattress for your eyes only? Chances are, once your child has developed their creative writing skills and hits a certain age, they’ll do the same. And, it should be encouraged. Not only does it give them an outlet to express themselves, but journalling has also been proven to help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and is a great  tool to improve mental and physical health.

What To Try

K is for Keyboards

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of K is for keyboard, with a Logitech green, yellow, lilac and white keyboard on a pale blue background.‍

Improve the ergonomics of your child’s homework space with an external keyboard that’s compatible with their laptop or tablet. This will mean the device can go on a stand to bring it to eye level, which reduces neck strain, and the keyboard can stay within arms’ reach

What To Try

L is for Lunchbox

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of L is for lunchbox, with three closed boxes in green, purple and blue on a pale orange background.‍

Food, glorious food. Good nutrition during school years supports health, growth, concentration, brain development and, in turn, academic achievement. For younger children, the right lunchbox is essential. Can they open it easily without adult help? Is it leak-proof and throw-proof? Does it have room for a sticky note featuring a sweet message from Mum or Dad that will surprise them when they go to eat lunch?

What To Try

M is for Maths

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of M is for maths, with a fractions activity set and a maths workbook on a pale pink background.‍

Maths is all around us. Counting fingers and toes. Learning to read a clock. Recognising numbers on playing cards. “Mathematical practices are fundamental to navigating our everyday lives,” says UNSW expert in mathematics education Professor Kim Beswick. “Maths helps us make well-founded judgements about all sorts of [day-to-day] things, including food, distance and time, costs, loans and sports, all of which need to be considered in the context of other considerations and priorities.” 

Encourage your kids to practise this essential life skill with games, workbooks and asking simple maths questions at relaxed moments: on the way to school, out shopping, at the playground or while measuring ingredients in your next cook-up. 

What To Try

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways to Help Your Kids With Maths

N is for Name Labels

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of N is for name labels, with six coloured Sharpies pens and a pack of fabric labels on a pale blue background.

Labelling their belongings, especially with unique tags, not only keeps their bags, hats and other bits and pieces of school paraphernalia out of Lost and Found, it also makes it easier for kids to identify their own items, with the bonus effect that it keeps them safe from sharing with others.

READ MORE: 6 Clever Ways to Make Kids’ Name Labels for School

O is for Organisation

With two kids at school this year, Sophie says being organised is key in their household. She shares her top three tips…

Label everything

“Things are bound to go missing throughout the year, and it’s a much easier visit to Lost Property when items are clearly labelled.”

Colour code your calendar

“Each person [in our household] has their own colour [on the family planner] to make sure we can quickly see who needs to be where.”

Give kids responsibility

“It’s helpful to get the kids into a habit of emptying their school bags when they get home, including taking their lunch boxes to the sink, plus putting their shoes away.”

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P is for Pens and Pencils

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of P is for pens and pencils, with an array of coloured markers, pencil crayons and lead pencils on a yellow background. 

Whether coloured or lead pencils, black or blue pens, these are school essentials kids will need in their pencil case, along with an eraser and sharpener. A pencil grip may also come in handy for younger kids as they learn to hold pencils properly. Coloured pencils are more than just a key for creativity. Research shows that the use of colour in learning materials significantly boosts memory recall, making it a powerful study tool.

What To Try

Q is for Questions

A text-based and illustrated graphic of Q is for questions, with four outlines of question marks in various colours on a blue background.‍

For Adelaide-based mum-of-four Eliza Nixon, being present and asking the right questions keeps her abreast of the achievements, but also concerns her children might have when it comes to school, both academically and socially.

“My biggest focus is always on their wellbeing, whether it be socially, their relationships with their teacher or their learning,” she says of supporting her children: 13-year-old Mia, who is heading into Year 8, and six-year-old and Year 1 student Hunter. The family also includes energetic toddler twins Beau and Jackson.

“I want them to thrive as much as possible, so I am always asking how their day was, how their friends are, what did you learn today, what did you do at lunchtime?” says Eliza, who shares her busy life with four kids via @thetwixons.

R is for Reading

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of R is for reading, with an activity book and children’s first readers on a pale orange background.

Language, learning, brain development. For most students, going back to school doesn’t mean the reading starts up again – as it’s just a part of everyday life. But, it does mean the homework begins and reading is a part of that. 

“I am looking at studies that show a long-term association between the age when babies are read to (at least within their first year of life), and their future literacy skills, reading motivation and knowledge of vocabulary that carries with them into the primary school years,” says Honorary Associate Professor Jane Torr, School of Education at Macquarie University, before adding a key engagement strategy for younger children: “Connect the story to the child’s life; for example, on a page with an image of a bike, you could say, ‘You have a bike like this one’. It helps to make the story relevant to their own life."

What To Try

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways to Help Your Kids Improve Their Literacy Skills

S is for School List Service

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of S is for school list service, with a lunchbag and lines exercise book on a pale pink background.

Make gathering school supplies for back to school easy with the Officeworks School List Service. Simply upload your child’s school list (or search for their school and year level to see if a school parent has already done it for you) and Officeworks will match the list with the best available products at the best prices. Last year, parents saved, on average, 20% on their school list prices when shopping with Officeworks using the School List Service.

SEE ALSO: Back to School Tips (and Savings) to Make Life Easier

T is for Times Tables

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of T is for Times Tables, with wall charts and flashcards on a pale green background.

We all remember the times tables rhymes don’t we? “Two and four want to celebrate; they’re turning eight (2 x 4 = 8)” or “Six and five watched the birdie; the number of times she chirped was 30 (6 x 5 = 30).” Rhymes can help kids learn across all subjects, especially during exam time. Another great way to make numbers accessible is during meal times on placemats or having a flashcard session afterwards. 

What To Try 

U is for Unicorns

 A text-based and deep-etched graphic of U is for unicorns, with a sticker book and pink printed water bottles, on a pale pink background.

This mythical creature lives on in fairytales and on these notebooks, pens, journals, cups and in sticker books. Let your kids go wild covering the fronts of their school books with unicorn sticker sets.

What To Try

V is for Volcano

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of V is for volcano, with a plastic model of a volcano ‘erupting’ with bicarb soda ‘lava’.

Putting a whole other spin on ‘the floor is lava’ game (yes, it’s still a ‘thing’), why not educate the kids on where lava really comes from with a cool volcano-making kit. While they are doing this hands-on activity you can throw some facts at them along the way and quiz them later. Did you know there are 1500 active volcanoes worldwide, with 50 to 70 of them erupting every year? Once the volcano kit is constructed, simply add vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to watch it become active – science at its best.

What To Try

W is for Water Bottles

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell-emblazoned water bottles on a pale orange background.

Chances are, you’ll notice if your child hasn’t had enough to drink during the day when they come home grumpy. Not having enough water in the day can affect a child’s mood, as well as sleep quality and cognition, so it’s important they have a durable water bottle that has capacity to hold at least half their daily amount for minimal refilling. For kids aged four to eight years old, that’s 1.2 litres (or about five cups) and up to nearly two litres for teenagers aged 14 to 18. 

What To Try

X is for (e)Xercise Books

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of X is for eXercise books, with five coloured books fanned out on a pale green background.

One for every subject? That’s a lot of book covers to decorate at back to school time, but also lots of opportunity for precious bonding time between you and your child. With colourful and personalised labels, as well as various fun embellishments, you can turn these basics into expressions of the hobbies, characters and sports that they love.

What To Try

Y is for Yearly Planner

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of Y is for yearly planner, with a spiral bound stand-up study planner on a pale pink background.

Without a central family calendar, influencer and mum Sophie Brown says she would be lost. “It helps keep track of everyone’s movements,” she says. “Between school, extracurricular activities and all of the social events (and that’s just the kids), it’s important to create a system that works for your family. As a visual person, I also feel much more organised when I can see it all in front of me.” 

Keeping on top of office administration with a planner keeps everyone in check, she adds. “I am naturally disorganised, so I try to put all the key dates in my diary as soon as I receive them, otherwise I’m the parent sending the kid to school in their uniform on casual clothes day and then panicking on arrival.”

What To Try

Z is for Zipper Binder

A text-based and deep-etched graphic of Z is for zipper binder, with five assorted colour binders standing upright on a pale blue background.

Zipper binders help keep things in order, particularly loose paper or handouts that your primary or high schooler might need for different subjects. With an array of colours to suit all tastes and room to hold 200 sheets of A4 paper, organisation awaits.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: School Supplies Parents and Kids Can’t Live Without