school supplies for success


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School Supplies for Success

Throughout my years of tutoring I have worked with many students who were not reaching their full potential.  They were often frustrated. They knew they could do better but they were overwhelmed. Their binder was overflowing with loose papers. Assignments were crumbled, stained and ripped as they were stuffed into the backpack or jammed into the binder. Many times I heard of students losing their assignments. Other times the assignment they handed in were crumbled and torn at the edges.

Too often students came to the tutoring lessons unprepared. They either forgot important supplies, could not find them or simply did not have them. Essential tools such as white out, ruler, different color highlighters, hole puncher, calculator, dictionary, thesaurus and graphing paper were not available. It can be frustrating. Just in case, I always came to the lesson with these essentials. I had to wonder, however, what happened outside of the lesson?

Schools usually provide parents with a list of supplies to purchase at the beginning of the school year. From my experience, there are many essential supplies that are not listed which are key to keeping a student organized, productive, focused and confident. Furthermore, some supplies are vague. For example, not all binders are made equal. The cheaper varieties fall apart, they are flimsy, they do not have inside pockets or the rings do not clasp tightly together which makes the paper rip and fall out. My pet peeve was always the fabric binders that have a zipper to hold it together. I realize that they are stylish and ‘convenient.’ Unfortunately, I have seen too many students with them stuffed so full that papers are falling out, the binder does not lay flat and papers get torn.

Over the years, I have helped countless students develop a system to keep organized and focused. They grew confident, proud of their work, focused and were in a better position to reach their full potential. It was amazing to see the transformation. The suggestions listed below are supplies that I have found to be highly effective. Of course, they are in addition to the list that is provided by the school and it does not include obvious items like pens, pencils, erasers, paper etc…


1. Binder: Select a heavy duty binder that is 1 inch wide for each subject. Each binder is a different color, has a pocket on the inside cover and had a d-ring that clasps tightly together.

Some students prefer to have one large binder for all subjects. If this strategy has worked for your son or daughter in the past then select one that had a d-ring and is 3 inches wide. This not only allows the pages to turn smoothly without being ripped but also enables more pages to be stored in the binder. This ensures that there is plenty of room for pages and everything will lay flatly.  

The zippered fabric binders tend to have convenient pockets for supplies but the rings are poorly made, pages get ripped, there is little room for papers and it quickly becomes a place to ‘stuff’ papers. It becomes a real head-ache a couple months down the road. Instead, there are plenty of options of three ringed pencil pouches. These can easily be taken out to make room for papers to lie flatly without creating bulk.

2. Dividers: Select good quality dividers that are made out of plastic. If having one large binder works for your son or daughter then having dividers that will not rip and fall out are essential. Having an extra set of dividers for the addition of extra sections could prove helpful down the road.

3. Pocket Folder: This is a plastic folder that is holed punched and fits into the binder. It acts like an envelope so that assignments that are not supposed to be hole-punched (ex. research projects, typed essays) can be safely transported to school. There should be one pocket folder for each subject.

4. Notebook: If your son or daughter prefers to use a notebook rather than loose paper then select a notebook that is hole punched and can fit into their binder. If there is a binder for each subject then they should also have a notebook for each subject. 

5. Agenda: Some schools provide an agenda. For those that do not then purchasing one is essential.  Agendas must be highly functional. There should be lots of space for each day of the week along with a section for a weekly and monthly overview. I prefer the Brownline agendas as they are simple and highly functional.


Supplies for School and the Home Study Area


Having a second set of supplies that remain at the student’s study area at home has proven to be very helpful. This eliminates the issue of not being able to effectively complete assignments due to leaving supplies at school.


1. Mini-Stapler & Staples: Select the mini stapler that can easily fit into the supplies case.

2. Paper Clips: Plastic paper clips of different sizes.

3. Three-Hole Puncher: Slender hole puncher that can easily fit into the supplies case.

4. Reinforcements for Hole-Punched Pages: Absolutely essential for pages that get ripped and fall out of the binder!

5. White-Out: The white out correction tape or liquid white out pen.

6. Highlighters: Multi-colored package of highlighters.

7. Writing Supplies: Mechanical pencils, extra led and multi-colored pens.

8. Paper: Blank paper, lined paper and graphing paper.