Back-to-School Shopping List

From Backpacks to Notebooks, Here's the Scoop on What to Scoop Up

Mother and son shopping for clothes

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In This Article

Getting kids ready for the new school year can be stressful and back-to-school shopping is often the biggest stressor of all. Would buying six pairs of jeans be too many? Would buying three be too few? Find out what you really need to buy with this handy back-to-school shopping list.


Your kids’ needs will vary according to their age, gender, and how frequently you do laundry, as well as whether they wear uniforms in school. Generally, you’ll want to have:

  • Three to five pairs of jeans
  • Four to five short-sleeved tops
  • Two to four long-sleeved tops
  • Three to five hoodies
  • Two to four sweaters
  • Two to four pairs of pants and/or skirts
  • Five to seven pairs of socks and/or leggings/tights
  • Seven pairs of underwear

Check with the school about any dress code requirements or restrictions before you buy back-to-school clothes.


How many pairs of shoes your kids need, and what kind, will vary with their activity level and their school's dress-cold policies. Generally, your kids will need:

  • Sneakers
  • Casual/dress shoes
  • Flip-flops/sandals/slip-on shoes


Many states offering tax-free weekend events for the back-to-school shopping season stipulate that accessories are not tax-free, so you'll want to check with the laws in your state. Some of the accessories you may need to purchase include:

  • Backpack
  • Belt
  • Ponytail holders and/or hair clips


What types of coats, and how many, will depend largely on the climate where you live. In general, most children need each of the following outerwear items:

  • Raincoat
  • Windbreaker or fleece jacket
  • Winter coat
  • Rain boots
  • Snow boots
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Winter hat

Back-to-School Supplies

Contact your child’s school for a specific list of the back-to-school supplies you’ll need to purchase.

What school supplies are needed can vary by school, class, and grade. Don't assume they are the same as when a sibling was in that grade a few years ago. Get the list from the school so you are not wasting money on unneeded items or lacking items that are required.

Generally, you can expect to buy:

  • Two to five spiral notebooks
  • Two to five folders
  • Binder
  • Five to 10 pencils
  • Five to 10 pens
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue or glue sticks

School Donations 

Many teachers ask for donations during the back-to-school shopping season, such as:

  • Facial tissue
  • Hand sanitizer

Lunch Items

Besides buying a lunchbox and two freezer packs to keep food cold, you'll want to start stocking up on the items you’ll be packing in your kids’ lunches, including:

  • Juice boxes
  • Sandwich ingredients (like peanut butter and jelly)
  • Snack items (like applesauce and string cheese)
  • Convenient fruits/vegetables (like raisins and baby carrots)
  • Yogurt

A Word From Verywell

By approaching the back-to-school shopping season with a plan, and knowing ahead of time what you need to buy, you'll be able to save money and avoid buying items your kids don't really need this year.

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