Everything You Need For a Successful School Year

essentials for the school back pack or work bag

So, 2021 has finally arrived, and school is starting rather late this year. This means two things – we have to entertain the kids for an extra four weeks (oh no!) and we need to make sure that they have everything they need on their stationery lists before they start school. And while the stationery list is a great place to start, there are many other things that we can add to help our children get through the school year effectively. And some of these suggestions will help at you out at the office too 😉


Lunch Box and Water Bottle

Make sure that not only is the lunch box “cool” but that it also contains healthy lunch and snacks. While a small treat is nice, make sure that they have something with fibre in it to keep them feeling fuller for longer, natural sugars – like fruit, and some form of protein to keep them going. Some great suggestions are dried fruit packs, snack bars (like granola bars) and occasionally even a chocolate bar. Apples and bananas are also a great source of energy and vitamins, just make sure they don’t wind up squashed at the bottom of your bag.

For an alternative healthy treat, you can make your own bran, or banana or carrot muffins (or buy them – no judgement here ;)) – although they are much cheaper to make especially if the bananas from the previous suggestion don’t get eaten. The Woolworths Taste site has a great recipe for banana bread that I’ve often turned into muffins, and added some twists of my own. Today I added chocolate chips to one loaf, and to another I’ve added cinnamon and honey – tasty and healthy!

Make sure that your kids also have enough to drink – preferably water. Brains are 80% water, and they need to stay hydrated to keep functioning at their optimum levels (of course as adults we use coffee to do this). A water bottle is a cost-effective option because it can be refilled countless times through the day and week, and your children won’t be drinking added sugars like they would with a soda or fruit juice.

(I have to confess that I am not a great water drinker, but I do have a coffee flask that I take filled with coffee to the office. This is a very cost-effective way to have my caffeine on my trip to the office and prevents road rage – at least 90% of the time). 


Diary / Planner

A diary or planner is an essential item for both students and their parents for a successful school year. Every year it brings me great joy to find the perfect diary (this year’s one is from Typo in a rust orange leather. It has a monthly planner, as well as a page a day, and other fun things like a suggested bucket list for the year – I loved mine so much I got one for my hubby too, in a masculine dark brown of course).

Having a diary or planner (even the one on your phone) helps students to see when assignments are due, what homework they need to complete and when tests and exams are coming up. It can also help them plan their study time table. With lots of students doing school online this year, it can also help them to plan their days and what subjects they are going to do when.

Its also a great space to doodle, make quick notes and put other pieces of paper for safe keeping (get one that can close with an elastic or clip for this).


Pens, Pencils and all that other good stuff.

Make sure that they have the right pens and pencils. Students who write their notes out tend to do better than those that just read through their work. A great extra is colourful pens (which are more useful to gals than guys for studying, according to research) and highlighters – especially for geometry in maths. Remember to also include an eraser, ruler and something to keep all this good stuff together.

Glue and a pair of scissors could also be helpful if they receive notes that they want to stick into their notebooks.


Good quality Earphones

With online schooling looking like a serious reality for 2021, a set of good earphones will help with the online classes without disturbing everyone else in the house. There are lots of great videos on YouTube to help with lots of different areas in school. Make sure though, that the videos they are watching are done by people who are qualified. Maths @ Sharp has some really helpful videos for mathematics and how to use their scientific calculator most effectively.

and while we are talking about it:

A Good quality calculator

Every student (and most working adults too) needs a good quality calculator to help them get through their subjects and the school year well. A primary school student can use the Sharp S25 which along with allowing them to check their answers on a 10-digit basic calculator, also offers a mental maths drill practice function.

The Sharp S25 junior quiz calculator asks mental maths questions that the student has to answer. The calculator then marks the answer and if it is correct gives a new question, but if the answer is not right, the calculator repeats the question again. The student can ask for help if they don’t know the answer by leaving the answer space blank and pressing the equal button. The S25 then shows the student the answer without giving them a mark for that question. At the end of the set of questions (you have a choice of 25, 50 or 100 questions to choose from) the calculator will show the total correct answers achieved and the percentage correct. Mental maths is a critical skill that is linked to success in matric, so this calculator is an essential.

If you wanted to get one for yourself to help get your brain going in the morning, you can always say its to race your child in mental maths races 😉 

For those students in high school,

the Sharp EL-W535SA is the recommended model by the department of education, with 422 functions, including highest common factor, lowest common multiple, prime factorisation, easy to use statistics mode with summary pages of statistics, and an unlimited table mode.

For your (the parent’s) desk,

try out the ever popular Sharp EL-334WB, or our new colour models the EL-M335 in navy or pink. The calculator comes with a handy add or subtract function and the EL-334WB also has cost, sell and margin calculation functions for quick checks.

The Sharp EL-377WB is an ultra slim, soft touch calculator that will also travel well in your handbag or laptop bag. Use it at the store to make sure you stay on budget or when you are out at customers.

You can get these calculators quite easily from Takealot  or Loot.


First Aid

There’s nothing worse than a headache or paper cut that won’t stop bleeding. A small kit with things like 2 or 3 headache tablets, a couple of plasters and a safety pin or two will help out in a rough spot. Some other suggestions that I have seen include anti-acid tablets (which are recommended for your own bag too), mints or gum (in my past life as a special needs teacher, we used gum to help students who were fidgety to put their energy into chewing the gum and not into tapping everything- and were less fidgety as a result), antiseptic pads, nail file or clipper, and a card or piece of paper with emergency contacts for just in case.


Nice to have extras:

Another suggestion for the perfect bag is the extra’s every lady needs once a month (and a couple spare in case you have friends who are also in trouble).

Lip ice is also a great idea. Something that moisturises and protects at the same time. You can also include sunscreen – particularly for summer in sunny S.A.

Pack a small pack of tissues – there is nothing worse than having the sniffs and not being able to blow your nose. (Remember this one for exams too – there is nothing more distracting to the student, and everyone around him, than the sniffles).

Deodorant is another great addition to this section. Coming back from break after sitting in the blazing sun can leave you feeling (and smelling) a little less than fresh. Deodorant can really come to the rescue here.


Power bank:

A power bank is a handy choice for students who have long days at school, or trips on the bus. These will keep them fully charged and able to communicate with you throughout the day in case of emergencies. Or a phone charger if they know they have access to a plug. A power bank is a great option because it allows the student the freedom to move around with out having to plug in and out of every venue.


Hand sanitiser and Hand lotion

With South Africa in the throes of a second COVID-19 wave, we need to be extra careful about staying safe. This means making sure that you always sanitise and wear your mask. Sanitiser can be rough on your hands, so be sure to pack a hand lotion that moisturises your hands without making them greasy.

And while we are at it, a spare mask in the bag is also a good idea in case the first one get uncomfortable, or gross, or you’ve been wearing it for longer than the recommended four or five hours.

Any extra suggestions you can’t live without?

Let us know if we’ve left anything off the list and what your favourite bag essential item is.

Contact us today 🙂








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