Every August, I see a plethora of back to school guides filled with brightly colored school supplies, eco-friendly lunch gear, and the cutest clothes for Kindergarten through 5th grade. If you have high school kids, where is the back to school guide for them? I haven’t seen one, so I created by own.
This year I have not one but TWO high school kids. One is a senior and the other a freshman. As they get older, we have a pretty good idea of what they will need for high school in terms of supplies; pens/pencils, paper, folders, gym gear, etc. In all honestly, I’ve been watching for sales at Target and Staples since summer let out to score top deals on that stuff. Plus they each have their own style and ideas of what they want too.
What My Kids are Loving and Using This School Year
This back to school guide for high school features some of the things they love that go beyond the basics. It also shares a few tips that were given to me by other high school parents and those I’ve learned along the way. Both will serve you well with children in high school.
This reusable digital notebook (under $30) is a god send, especially for learners who are visual and kinesthetic. My oldest started using this last year for AP Physics and he loved it. It allows you to write notes, equations, drawings, to do lists, etc., and upload them to the cloud via a free app. It was easier to keep him organized and see all his notes in one place. Best of all, the Rocketbook is reusable. After you’ve uploaded your notes/pages, you can erase the notebook with a damp cloth and use it again.
Our family loves Kånken backpacks from Swedish company Fjällräven. Our Kånken mini has traveled with us often. Now this 15” laptop bag in a limited-edition print will be heading to school and traveling with us. Fun nature inspired prints are perfect for teens who want a backpack that expressed their creativity and love of nature. They bag has one large main compartment that fits everything they need, a padded laptop compartment, a small front pocket and two side pocket perfect for a water bottle or keys. It is made to last with G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco S, a waxed fabric of recycled poly and organic cotton.
They don’t always have a lot of time between classes to wash their hands, so this alcohol free hand sanitizing spray from CleanWell is perfect. It disinfects and sanitizes using natural ingredients. Also available in chemical-free wipes.
Many math classes allow use of and require a calculator that can perform a range of functions. If you are going to spend the money, buy one like this Casio PRIZM fx-CG500 that is permitted for use during the AP exam, SAT, PSAT, and NMSQT.
This hand printed tee from Xenotees is definitely a conversation starter. They come in womens, unisex, and children’s sizes.
So food is a big deal in our house and it’s showing up in my children’s clothing choices. This pizza sweatshirt is another favorite from Xenotees.
We love KEENS footwear for school and on the trail. This month they have a great same on styles for kids and adults. Take $10 off your next order from KEEN with promo code AUGUST10DOLLARS.
This insulated lunch tote from Hydro Flask is perfect for teens. It’s durable and rugged enough for anything a teen can put it through whether it’s at school or on the trail. Use offer code FASTSHIP19 in cart to get free upgraded shipping.
Instead of sugar laden juices or beverages, pack these organic ice teas instead. These are naturally caffeine-free and loaded with antioxidants. They carry sparkling and still versions with Yuzu and Berry being two of our favorites.
Find our favorite organic snacks that you can buy in stores.
Some schools are now requiring clear backpacks. This one from Smarty Co has earned the reputation as the most durable clear backpack available. It has a reinforced bottom with double layered clear plastic and additional Criss Cross stitching for durability of straps.
We loved JstBU’s mission to empower young girls to be their best selves by incorporating hidden inspirational messages such as “Trust Yourself” inside each clothing piece. Plus they give back to girls in need.
Eco-friendly graphite penciles with plantable seeds inside. Once the pencil is done, you can plant it to grow flowers or herbs.
If you want to style like the scruffy-looking nerf herder then this jacket is the best gift for you. A cool jacket from a galaxy far far away featuring screen accurate details and multiple pockets for carrying essentials.
For a sleek looking backpack, this Region lapto bag from Solo New York is the perfect everyday bag. My oldest son likes the lightweight design with padded back and shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry around all day. He will also be traveling more this year as he looks at colleges and this is a great soze for an overnight bag or as a personal item when flying. The back slide strap will slide over a luggage handle.
The versatile designs from Title Nine allow us to go from trail to city effortlessly. This A Line dress has s hidden SwiftSnap™easily coverting it from dress to a romper. It does double duty and is wrinkle resistant because who has time for ironing.
For those of us parents with teens in sports, we know how uncomfortable those steel bleachers are. Now you can bring this compact, lightweight Savanna Chair from Helinox to every game/event. This outdoor chair is designed for comfort with ease. Weighing only 4.3 lbs, packing down into a small 6”x 6.5"x 21.5" case, and being weather and UV resistant.
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Back to School Tips for Teens
Start each day with a healthy breakfast. It is hard to think and stay focused on an empty stomach. Start off each morning with protein to stay fuller longer.
- Get into the schedule now – don’t try to go from
10amor 1pmwakeups to 6amwhen school starts.
- Stay organized. It is frustrating when you can’t find that paper or homework for a class because things are in disarray. Designate a place for each class
it a notebook, a folder, or a binder. It makes life easier and helps prevent a zero for work not being turned it. be
- Get a planner and use it – Between school, homework, after school activities, sports, work, etc., you will want to keep track of assignments, appointments, deadlines, and schedules. Use a physical planner, digital calendar, or
combinationof whatever works for you. My kids use a travel journal for their planner. Here is a good printable homework planner from Pura Vida Moms.
- Figure out your study schedule – “Ask yourself the following questions. When do you work? When do you volunteer? When do you have sports or other commitments? Do you need to block off an hour right when you get home or later in the evening? Do you have a block of time you can work on things before school starts or during school? Figure out what works for you – but be ready to adjust it as you need to.” Michelle Price
- Discover new interests – High school is a great time to try new activities, join new clubs, and meet new people. Be open to trying new things based on your interests.
- Stay away from drama – It can be easy to be drawn into the drama and negativity at one’s school. It takes the focus away from academics. Choose to be around people that are positive and drama feel.
- Don’t procrastinate – You need to stay on top of things. Start assignments as they are given. Don’t put things off until the last minute.
- Don’t dwell on mistakes – Mistakes do happen. Don’t dwell of what went wrong. Learn from the experience and do better moving forward.
- Drive safely (if you drive yourself to school) – Remember to always drive safely. If you are running late, don’t panic and rush to get there. Accept that you are late and obey the rules of the road.
Get our Healthy Back to School Meal Plan here.
Back to School Tips for Parents
- “Make sure you keep those communication lines open. It’s so important in high school and middle school.” Jana Seitzer
- “I had my teen use this back to school password tracker because it helped me access all the different databases for grades, things she needed when she was in class, etc. She’s now in college but it works wonders.” Jenne
- “I set up a breakfast schedule and pre-cook breakfast foods on the weekend and set up a breakfast rhythm. SO my kids know that Mon/Wed/Fri they get a hot breakfast. Tues/Thurs
iscold. or whatever works for us. So cooking ahead I’d make roasted potatoes and breakfast sandwich items, then reheat and assemble 3 mornings a week. The other two days are cold cereal, granola, milk, yogurt kind of days. But no matter what I make them hot tea every day because it’s our family thing.” Laura Sampson
- “If you are packing a lunch, be sure to provide healthy lunch ideas like these.” Diana Rambles
- “Set your kids up to be responsible for themselves. Guide them and be there for them for guidance and occasional redirection, but let them manage themselves. Just a
coupleexamples: our mornings are very peaceful because my children are fully responsible for getting themselves up and ready for school. After schoolthey have a list of things that they know they are expected to you. I check in with them a few times a week to see how their lists are going, making sure they’re accomplishing what they’re supposed to do,and occasionally offering reminders of what they can improve and praising what they’re doing well.” Amy Thayer
- “More and more teens are struggling to relax, cope, and focus. Getting them started with guided meditations or listening to soothing sounds for better sleep should be an essential back to school hack. I recommend Headspace and Calm for beginners. Insight timer also has a wide variety of interests and free options.” Marisa Hendrickson LMHC
- “It’s a great idea to have a family calendar ( on smartphones or on the wall) but everyone can add their activities
A weekly family meeting is a great time to discuss upcoming activities and add them to the calendar.” Amy Thayer