The ultimate back to school shopping checklist

Get organised for the school year ahead

The end of the summer break is fast approaching, and soon, those carefree mornings will be replaced by the familiar routine of getting ready for school.

To help smooth the transition back to the classroom, we’ve compiled a checklist of affordable and essential school supplies to help you and the kids get organised for a successful year of learning and play.

Which supplies does my child need for school in New Zealand?

Consider your child’s school’s official stationery list for 2024 as a starting point. Our advice? You don’t need to buy from their recommended supplier, and if you’re looking to avoid the in-store crowds, shopping online is your best bet.

Then, see what extras you need, from lunch boxes to backpacks. If your child has grown out of their shoes, now is the perfect time to invest in a new pair.

From must-have school stationery to useful organisational tools, consult our ultimate school supplies guide below.

1. School stationery and exercise books

From left: Arlow Pencil Case, $19.99, from Cotton On, a selection of Warwick Exercise Books, from $0.15, from Paper Plus.

After an online bargain? We recommend ordering essential items like Warwick exercise books, coloured pencils, pens and other school suppliers from a retailer like Paper Plus, which is currently having a school essentials sale.

Your child will also love getting organised for term one with the pencil cases available at Typo. There’s the Arlow pencil case, which features an easy-to-access zipper, an inside pocket and functional compartments.

Alternatively, the Florence pencil case comes in five different colours and is large enough to pack everything from snacks to headphone cases.

2. School backpacks and lunch boxes

From left: Lunch Bag, $29.99, and Disney Backpack, $54.99, both from Cotton On Kids.

There’s a great selection of kid’s backpacks in fun colours and patterns that suit their personal style.

Our favourite place to shop for school backpacks is Cotton On. It stocks official Disney styles alongside fun patterns and pretty floral designs. Remember to check out the matching lunch boxes here!

If your child is partial to surf and sports brands like Nike, Vans and Stussy, check out City Beach, Platypus and The Iconic for a vast selection of stylish backpacks that will endure the test of time.

3. Drink bottles

From left: Chrome Rainbow Drink Bottle, $74.99, from Frank Green, On The Move Drink Bottle, $29.99, from Typo.

Frank Green bottles are trending and for a good reason. The durable bottle’s triple-wall vacuum insulation keeps water cool all day long.

Even better, your child will have fun customising their drink bottle via Frank Green’s website, which offers mix-and-match colours and personalised monogramming.

For a affordable drink bottle alternative, check out Typo’s fabulous and vibrant range here.

4. School shoes

From left: Clarks Daytona Junior Boys School Shoes, $94.99 (usually $144.99), from The Athlete’s Foot, Vans Kids Old Skool Black Leather Sneakers, $109.99, from Platypus.

For those wondering which pair of school shoes is best in NZ, it all comes down to your child’s school uniform. Do they wear leather shoes, sandals, or sneakers depending on the day’s activities?

The Athlete’s Foot offers a great selection of Clarks branded leather school shoes. They’re well-built, smart-looking shoes with comfortable insoles, so they’ll endure all that running around.

For sneakers, you can’t go past the range at Platypus (it’s currently having a back to school sale). Platypus also stocks a fabulous range of Crocs perfect for after watersports practice — remember to deck them out in personalised Jibbitz!

5. School laptops and tablets

From left: Surface Laptop 5, from $1,999, from Windows, Inspiron 14 2-in-1 Laptop, $1,288, from Dell.

When sourcing a suitable school laptop or device, it all comes down to what your child’s school recommends for class time (whether a laptop or tablet) and how often your child will use it after school to complete homework.

Consider specifications like size, weight, battery life, CPU, screen resolution and storage. Can the device be easily transported in a backpack? Would a 2-in-1 laptop and tablet work best for both schoolwork and entertainment?

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a popular choice for school. It’s significantly lightweight, preloaded with Windows 11, and features an interactive touchscreen for ease of use. SHOP IT HERE.

There’s also the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-one Laptop for the convenience of both a laptop and tablet set-up. The smooth-running device boasts a crisp display that reduces exposure to blue light. SHOP IT HERE.

Lastly, the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 5 Laptop is an affordable yet high-powered device that can run various applications simultaneously and offers plenty of storage. Featuring a larger keyboard for ease of typing, it’s ideal for those small hands and fingers. SHOP IT HERE.

6. Family wall planner

From left: The Chart Noticeboard Merry-Go-Round Wall Organiser, $305, and Linen Wall Organiser, $305, both from Shop Your Home and Garden.

As the after-school activities ramp up, keep the whole family organised with an easy-to-view wall organiser.

Our pick? Shop Your Home and Garden features a great selection of wall planners, whether you prefer a weekly or monthly layout, or an educational planner that shows the days of the week in different languages, including te reo Māori, French, Spanish or German. SHOP THEM HERE

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