Starting a new year always brings much excitement as well as a little trepidation. In terms of planning, getting a preview of what you need to take to school with you can help settle nerves. While traditionally, private schools are better stocked in terms of student supplies, it is still customary for students to bring their personal school supplies at the beginning of each school year.
Your school supply list will depend on what grade you are going in and what school you go to. Each school has its own way of doing things. Sometimes, schools will charge a supply fee and provide the student with almost everything they need. Sometimes, schools will ask for items that become communal property, i.e. computer paper, tissue boxes, and even pencils. More than likely, the private school student will be asked to bring in their personal school supplies which they will use the ensuing year.
The purpose of this article is to give you a preview of what the typical private school supplies list will be like, provide shopping tips and give you our favorite online school supplies shopping sources. Our example supply lists are broken down: one for elementary students and one for high school students. Remember to check with your school for their actual list before you start shopping.
Elementary Private School Supplies
At the elementary school level more so than at the high school level, supplies can end up as "communal" in nature, since students tend to stay in the same classroom the entire day. Elementary private school supplies can include:
- Pencil, sharpener, erasers. For the lower levels, regular pencils are desired. At the higher grade levels, mechanical pencils can be used.
- School box to hold the student's supplies (needs to fit inside the student's desk).
- Loose-leaf paper (needs to be continuously supplied throughout the year).
- Graph paper for math subjects.
- Folders to hold handouts and assignments.
- Notebooks (spiral and/or composition).
- Binders to store paper.
- Personal dictionary for higher grade levels.
- Copy paper that may be used at the computer lab.
- Index cards to make study flashcards or to use when writing reports.
- Miscellaneous supplies: tape, plastic bags, sponges, wet wipes, tissues, etc.
- Art supplies: glue stick, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, markers, paints, construction paper, clay, sketch pads, etc.
Asheville Montessori School provides its parents with a brief video showing what supplies are required.
Private High School Supplies
Most students anticipate how different high school will be from their previous lower-level school experience. While the larger buildings, new students, and new subjects can be overwhelming at first, most of the private high school supplies are similar to what the student used in elementary school. Here is a list of typical private high school supplies:
- Pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers or mechanical pencils, lead, and eraser refills.
- Highlighters (sometimes optional).
- Pens (different colors may be required when reviewing or studying).
- Notebooks (spiral or composition). Teachers may request composition-style notebooks for classes with lab work (chemistry, biology, or physics, for example).
- Loose-leaf paper.
- 3 ring binders and folders to contain papers.
- Ruler, protractor, and compass depending on courses.
- Calculator - math classes usually have specific requirements for calculators; a list of approved calculators may be provided. The student may want to check with their individual teachers.
- Graph paper may be required.
- Index cards for study flashcards or for note-making when writing reports.
- A laptop or tablet. Also paper for your printer.
- Art supplies may be necessary for art classes. This may include many different art supplies or it may just be a sketch pad and drawing pencils. Other specialty classes may require additional supplies or an extra supply fee for use of school supplies.
Private schools will typically specify the kind of computers which they will permit to be used on campus. This short video offers a list of laptops that the video author considers good value.
Other Private School Supplies
- Backpack or tote bag to carry books and supplies. The school may issue one.
- Locker accessories.
- Book covers for the textbooks.
- Physical Education (PE) or gym clothes. Most schools have regulations on what students wear during PE classes. You may need to buy the gym clothes directly from your school or only from authorized suppliers.
- Homework assignment notebook, planner or calendar to record assignments and test dates.
- Emergency supplies may be required. Depending on your school's emergency plan, students may need to bring a packed emergency supply kit. Items can include clothes, blankets, non-perishable food, bottled water, extra medication, and a flashlight plus batteries.
- The biggest difference between buying private school supplies and public school supplies is the uniform requirements. Most private schools mandate that their students abide by uniform requirements. Private schools will either have a specific uniform that you must buy at a uniform school or they will have guidelines (i.e. navy blue or tan pants with white shirts, etc.) which you can buy from major clothes distributors (like Land's End, Gap, or Old Navy). Check with your school to find out what they require clothes-wise.
Tips When Buying Private School Supplies
Here are general tips to help when purchasing private school supplies:
- Need to know for sure? Check with the school website to see if they have prepared a school supply list. Westminster School in Annandale, Virginia, for example, posts their school supplies, divided by grades, on their website (http://www.westminsterschool.com/school-supplies.cfm). If you cannot find anything online call the school office to find out about their school supply list. Some schools may have the list available online behind the student or parent login. Some schools wait to distribute their lists on the first day of school.
- Check to make sure you are using the latest version of the school supplies list. Many schools update their lists routinely. Do not refer to old supply lists from previous years in case the supply lists have been updated.
- Keep receipts in the event that anything must be exchanged or returned.
- Find out what computers the school prefers.
- Check with the school's parent's association. Many associations will hold "used uniform" sales during the summer. You can get some really good deals this way.
- There are hundreds of plaid patterns for school uniforms. Do not try to "eyeball" the pattern. Instead, ask the school for their official pattern number for each uniform source that they can recommend.
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