With the fall semester now underway for some school districts and with others about to start, parents everywhere may be struggling with how exactly to handle it. Whether schools are open for in-person learning, have started with 100% virtual learning, or have opted for a mix of the two, COVID-19 is forcing everyone to make some serious adjustments to ensure their kids can learn at home effectively or be as safe as possible in classrooms.
While back-to-school kits make it easy to buy many utilitarian items at once, you may not need everything in the bundles, or it’s likely you may already have some of the essentials from the end of last school year.
So we’ve rounded up some products that help make at-home, in-class, or hybrid-style learning easier and safer. From typical items like laptops to whiteboards you can stick on the wall, these items might come in handy as you adapt to these uncertain times.
With the majority of the largest school districts in the US starting the year with virtual learning or a hybrid virtual-and-in-person model, children need a laptop to access their classes and complete their homework. We like Chromebooks, because they are among the more affordable models, which is a plus especially when buying for multiple for kids. What’s great about the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is that it is small by design, so it may be easier for younger kids to navigate and manage. It also comes with a detachable keyboard and easily turns into a tablet for post-school entertainment.
SHOP BEST BUY: Lenovo Chromebook Duet, $299
Whether your child is learning 100% virtually or following a hybrid model, they need a designated spot to get their work done. And while you kid may try to convince you they can study in bed all day, in reality experts say to avoid working in bed and to designate specific workspace. Set up a desk with all of their materials to help them stick to a routine and stay focused. Look for a simple desk with drawers, or one that folds down and away (pictured) if space-saving is a priority. Bonus: This desk needs no assembly.
And with the desk, at-home students need a comfortable chair, preferably one that does not swivel, to help keep them focused and less distracted during virtual classes.
SHOP POTTERY BARN KIDS: Mid-Century Play Chairs, $79
If you don't already have a printer, now is a good time to get one. Great for printing out worksheets and helping to ensure kids can submit assignments in the classroom, this new compact printer makes tasks at home easy with print, scan, and copy versatility. It's also compatible with the HP Smart App to print and scan from anywhere via mobile.
SHOP BEST BUY: HP ENVY 6055 All-In-One Printer, $129.99
Magnetic Dry Erase Board
Help reduce daily paper waste with a dry erase board. Teachers find it easier to see children's written down answers on the board during virtual learning, as opposed to using a pen and paper. You can also use the white board to remind children of their tasks and help keep them organized. The magnetic feature allows you to proudly show off their work, so they can have a sense of accomplishment while learning from home.
Peel & Stick White Board
If you’re having a hard time keeping your kids' school day organized, you need this genius white board that sticks to the wall. You can put it up in your kitchen or designated learning space, without having to damage any of your walls.
SHOP CHASING PAPER: School Schedule Peel & Stick White Board, $22
3-Tier Metal Utility Cart
Keep your kids’ supplies organized and in one place. The wheels allow you to easily move it around if you have multiple learning areas in your home, and you can easily store it away until needed. When not in use for class, it's a great piece of furniture to have out for entertaining—even for your small quarantine bubble group.
SHOP TARGET: Made By Design 3-Tier Metal Utility Cart, $35
Kids Wireless On-Ear Headphones
If your child is taking virtual classes, invest in a pair of bluetooth, over-the-ear headphones, which help drown out outside noise during their lessons, and ideally, enable them to focus a little more. With child-friendly control buttons, built-in volume control to protect hearing, and battery power that lasts up to 12 hours, they’re easy and safe to operate.
Hand Sanitizer With Holder
Make sure to load up your kids with hand sanitizer. Buying a pack with multiple minis lets you leave them in different rooms and bags to make sure they can sanitize as needed. Don't forget a kitschy holder that clips onto their bag. Not only does this provide easy access to the hand sanitizer, kids will love showing off their cool clip to their friends.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Children are spending more time in front of laptops and computers, where the blue light from the screens may cause health issues or disrupt sleep, according to Harvard Medical School. Protect your child’s eyes with blue-light blocking glasses. When customizing, be sure to add Blockz for blue-light and UV-blocking, with or without a prescription.
SHOP ZENNI: Kids’ Round Glasses 4433023, starting at $23.95
Since most kids have to eat lunch at their desks if they go back to school, they need a fully functional lunchbox. With layers of insulation, lunch can stay cold or hot, for hours. Use the Insulated Lunch Box (pictured) to keep sandwiches and bags of veggies at the perfect temperature. Fill the Food Flask (sold separately) with a healthy smoothie, soup, or pasta. If your child is home, you can still easily prep their food ahead of time to cut down on any additional work during lunchtime.
60-Minute Visual Timer
If your child is taking a timed test—or is in time-out for putting their feet up during a Zoom lesson—this visual timer will help kids keep track of time, without having to ask a million times how much longer.
SHOP STAPLES: Time Timer MOD 60-Minute Visual Timer, $28.99
Dry Erase Pocket Sleeves
These dry erase sleeves help reduce the amount of paper your kids waste when practicing their letters, numbers and more. Slide the worksheet inside the sleeve, and let them use a dry-erase marker to write on the sleeve instead of the paper. They can practice again and again without paper waste.
SHOP AMAZON: Better Office Products Dry Erase Pocket Sleeves, 30 Count, $19.99
If your child is going to school, a backpack is essential. This one can be personalized with a name or initials, so kids won’t mix them up in the class cubbies and spread more germs. It's easy to clean with water and a cloth, and you can also spray down the bag with disinfectant when your kids come home. If your child isn't going into a classroom, use it to store their essentials when they’re not doing classwork. The design is available in four sizes, including one with wheels kids with a heavier load of supplies to tote.
SHOP POTTERY BARN KIDS: Mackenzie Gray Sharks Light-Up Backpacks, $21-$47 (originally $27-$60)
Snacks in Bulk
Snack time is probably one of your child’s favorite part of their school day, so maintaining that normalcy at home and at school will hopefully help them cope with the frustration of their new learning lifestyle. You can easily order snacks and drinks in bulk for your kids to have at home, along with household supplies for cleaning. Having pre-packaged snacks and supplies delivered to your doorstep will help cut down on shopping and prep time for you as well.
SHOP BOXED: Snacks, Drinks & Supplies, prices vary
From the ultimate master of organizing and tidying, Marie Kondo, comes this playful and functional line, KonMari. These organizers will help keep your kids’ toys and school supplies in order. You can also have this storage bin double as a paper wastebasket.
SHOP KONMARI: Canvas Storage Bin With Pom Poms, $46
If you are limited on space and need to store your kids’ school supplies and tools, this desktop organizer easily keeps things organized, without sacrificing any space or aesthetic.
SHOP CRATE & KIDS: Boon White Stash Multi Room Organizer, $24.99
Annotator, Pencil and Highlighter All-in-One
These innovative pencils and highlighters, are an all-in-one unit that your kids are going to love. The unique design helps reduce amount of supplies your kids need at home or in their backpack.
SHOP SOZY PENCILS: The Annotator, Pencil and Highlighter All-in-One, $10
Dry Erase Markers
Dry erase markers in fun and bright colors help you to make class schedules more interesting. Pick a color for each of your kids so they can easily see what they have to do for the day.
SHOP AMAZON: Crayola Dry Erase Markers, $5.99