Let’s face it: this school year will be unlike any other in modern history.
Schools across the country are going back to school remotely, in-person and in hybrid versions of both remote and in-person learning, and we’re all finding ways to navigate unexpected transitions as smoothly as possible.
We know the prospect of remote learning can be exhausting and stressful to many students, and our focus has always been first and foremost on making sure students have the support to prioritize their mental health and emotional wellness.
Research suggests that students experiencing stress and trauma have decreased fluency around executive functioning skills — that is, organizing, planning, prioritizing and focusing on task initiation and completion. It’s not hard to imagine why — we all have a lot on our minds these days.
Still, as we begin to plan and visualize the next few months, we find it can be helpful to spend some time focusing on the basics: supplies.
So, we’ve put together a detailed list of important educational materials for remote learning.
1. Paper Planners
In our world at Green Ivy Educational Consulting, paper planners are the holy grail of back-to-school items. Especially in the context of remote learning, paper planners provide much-needed relief and structure for students managing a wide range of assignments, meetings, and extracurriculars.
Plum Paper offers a generous selection of customizable agendas. Keeping a visually appealing and personalized planner can encourage students to prioritize, organize, and manage time!
For students who prefer sleek, understated notebooks to flashy ones, we recommend this Lemome Weekly/Monthly planner. As a budget-friendly alternative, consider this spiral-bound, faux leather choice.
Lastly, for a range of solid picks at different price points, try browsing Target’s reliable selection.
Headphones can be an indispensable tool for many students, especially in the context of remote learning. Options include: simple low-cost wired earbuds, noise-cancelling over-ear headphones, bluetooth headphones, or wireless earbuds such as Apple AirPods. Regardless of the specific brand or model, headphones are super useful for blocking out distractions during remote class meetings and homework blocks.
Because of the massive diversity of options available, we recommend browsing through the following curated lists to find a choice that meets your financial and functional preferences:
This list provides a number of solid low-cost, over-ear ideas.
For those who are trying to decide between over-ear headphones and in-ear earbuds, consider these budget-friendly options.
Check out this detailed guide to find in-ear options for multiple price preferences.
To invest in high-quality headphones, consider these pricier (but highly effective) picks.
3. Binders and Binder Paper
Due to the shift to digital learning, many students will be tempted to type their class and homework notes onto Google or Word documents. However, significant research suggests that using physical materials to record information helps the brain absorb and retain concepts (side note: this is another reason why we recommend paper planners!).
We suggest students and families maintain a steady supply of writing paper. That way, students can take notes during Zoom meetings or while doing homework in a way that encourages learning and gives the eyes a break from the harsh bluelight of their screens!
Ideally, students should loose-leaf binder paper. Students can quickly move sheets of notes between folders and binders according to their needs (for example, it’s quite easy to move a pile of notes from a class binder into a study folder when it’s time to prepare for an exam). You can purchase stacks of loose-leaf paper in-person or online at Target, Staples, Office Depot, and most other supply stores.
As for binders, we recommend keeping a simple 3-ring binder for every class. Although remote learning involves fewer paper materials, these binders will be important for storing notes, annotated reading homework, and useful printable materials such as study guides. Students can find binders at their local school supply store or at any of the department stores mentioned above. For a stylish alternative, students can customize their own 3-ring binders at Zazzle!
Although students will have varying levels of need for calculators depending on their grade, it’s worth investing in a dependable calculator to facilitate math learning at all ages. Even if mental math is a priority, calculators can be useful when checking work for mistakes!
For classes that don’t require graphing calculators, the Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS is a tried-and-true, versatile choice. However, students taking more advanced math classes (such as pre-calculus, calculus, or statistics) can set themselves up for success by grabbing a true graphing calculator. We recommend the TI-84 Plus model.
Note: we recognize that graphing calculators can be expensive. For students and families who are uncomfortable shelling out $100+ for a physical calculator, Desmos can be a great (free) backup!
5. Devices and Laptops
The widespread pivot to remote-learning means that most students will need regular access to a desktop computer, laptop, and/or tablet device. We know that the pandemic has imposed financial strain on families across the country, making it difficult for millions to purchase the technology necessary for effective remote learning. For students struggling to complete their online school work with the devices available to them, we highly recommend reaching out to school administrations for support and accommodations.
Students looking to purchase a new device should consider these laptop and tablet options for diverse ages and budgets. For more recommendations, students and families can peruse this list of ideal remote-learning devices.
6. Cardboard Dividers/Privacy Shields
Many families have multiple students in the household and face added challenges around sharing workspaces. To prioritize concentration and minimize distractions, students can use “privacy shields,” which create a clearly delineated study space and block distractions from view. Students can create their own dividers out of cardboard and decorate them for a personalized touch. Alternatively, families can purchase quality shields at privacyshields.com.
7. Ergonomic Mice and Keyboards
Families can take their workspaces to the next level by investing in ergonomic tools (workspace supplements that emphasize comfort, straighten posture, and reduce hand and wrist strain). See this concise list to find a great ergonomic mouse that matches your needs and budget. Likewise, a well-designed ergonomic keyboard can greatly relieve daily discomfort and boost productivity while working at a computer. Consider purchasing ergonomic devices in order to commit to long-term back, hand, arm, neck, and wrist health!
In the chaotic context of a global pandemic, reliable supplies can provide much-needed stability. Students and parents should have honest conversations about the unique material needs for their school and specific classes. Consider this list a jumping-off point, and let us know if you are relying on a crucial material or item not included in this list! As always, we are here to help.