Preparing for Middle School: 1

I always waited for the first day of school to get the teacher's list of supplies. Then I would go to Target or Staples and wait in an endless line for the last of the stray, wrinkled, stepped on notebooks that nobody else wanted. I wanted to go in mid summer when the pretty notebooks were out, but NYC starts school so much later than any other district that when I was on vacation in other states, the shelves were clear by mid July. I just went to Staples yesterday and got my gross of $.19 pocket folders and you can too, before they are all gone.

Here is a shopping strategy for the parents of rising 6th graders ready for their first year of Middle School. It is a tough call because your tween will want to wait to see what everyone else has. They may also want the giant binder with pockets and subject dividers for the first time. These will not go to waste even if their teachers don't require them. They will use them all sometime unless they become plastered with Jonas Brothers stickers which will render them "gross" and outdated in 6 months.
This is what you should get:

  • the tried and true marble composition books one for each subject (and lots of extras)
  • pocket folders for each subject
  • spiral notebooks with perforations so that the pages can be torn out without the fringe

If you go shopping now you can find colorful (actually attractive) composition notebooks. Get them in different colors for each subject, red for ELA, blue for math, green for science etc. Then get the corresponding colored pocket folders and spiral notebooks for those subjects too. That way when the books are strewn all over the living room at 7am and your child only needs science and ELA that day, he can easily see what needs to go into the backpack. If they are all the same color or random designs imagine the horror (and notes home that he doesn't have his work in class).

  • pads of graph paper for math (some have 4 sq. per in. on one side and 5 on the other so that you have all bases covered)
  • lots of #2 pencils, a sharpener, and some mechanical lead pencils for math
  • colored construction paper, glue sticks, markers of all kinds (you thought the projects would stop?!)
  • extra poster board (white and in color) and a spare tri-fold card board display (thanks Felicity)
  • lots of extra printer paper and many extra ink cartridges

Middle school is when the computer becomes a part of your child's body. I have a couple things to say about this. ALWAYS HAVE AN EXTRA INK CARTRIDGE IN THE HOUSE. Oh yes, you will use the last one and think, I will reorder that in a couple of weeks like I normally do, but a week later at midnight when the giant social studies project is due, suddenly there will be no ink, because your child spent the last week printing out multiple copies of different size pictures of civil war uniforms that they didn't use. Hear me now or suffer the consequences. Always have at least one extra cartridge and ream of paper in the house. Always.


Happy shopping!