School is now in full swing. Everyone is feeling the energetic vibes of a new school year, from the first-timers in pre-K all the way to seniors looking at graduation.

Well, maybe not everyone is feeling the buzz. Parents who thought they’d covered all the school supply bases are finding more necessities cropping up as the year goes on. Certain supplies get quickly used up and extracurricular activities bring demands of their own. When it comes to keeping their students well-equipped, all this can make parents feel they’re back at square one.

There’s no need to get overwhelmed, though. The following essential items can help smooth the rest of your student’s journey through the school year.

1. Tabs-Keeping Technology

When the school year starts, your kid is suddenly out of sight — if never out of mind. To keep parental separation anxiety to a minimum, enlist the aid of tech to track your child’s whereabouts.

Perhaps your young child is riding the bus for the first time; if so, consider investing in a kids smart watch. Sometimes the bus is late, or a new driver misses your child’s stop, and panic sets in. A smart watch allows you to track your child using GPS, and it also works as a cell phone. If your child needs to contact you, they have the means right there on their wrist. Such devices also let you designate “safe zones” and will alert you when your child goes in or out of one of them.

Another way to locate your child is with an on-person electronic tag. Similar to those now used on luggage, these can be attached to clothing, clipped to a backpack, or slid into a pocket. A particularly good one for young children features a button for them to push in case of emergency.

And of course there are phones. For elementary school kids who are not ready for a full-on smartphone, there are simple cell phones not connected to the internet. Your kid can call you, take photos, and listen to music, but they can’t post anything on the web. Such devices enable you to stay in touch while keeping your child safe from inappropriate online content.

2. Tech to Support Their Tech

Spare charger cables for every device your student uses daily were probably not on the school supply list. Yet those gadgets are useless once they’ve lost their juice. Charger cables can disappear in a tangled mess under your child’s bed or get left on the bus, never to be seen again. So pick up a spare cable for their school-issued tablet, one for their laptop (if applicable), and one for their phone. Keep these cables in a central location in the house where they can be easily found.

Another item to pick up is a small power strip just for their chargers. That way your student will know exactly where all their electronics are, and so will you. This offers the indirect benefit of allowing you to monitor their screen time. After all, you know how and when they’re charging their devices.

If your student’s school day is long, their phone may run out of power before they can get home. In that case, invest in a portable charger. These devices are small and inexpensive and will give you peace of mind, knowing calls will not go directly to voicemail.

3. Food and Drink to Fuel Their Bodies

For your child to succeed in school, they need to stay well-nourished and hydrated. As temperatures continue to soar around the country, food safety is critical. Send your child’s meal in an insulated lunch bag to ensure the contents stay cool until it’s time to eat. Some new lunch bags can actually be frozen, so no cold packs are involved. Freeze the bag, take it out, pack the lunch, and go.

To make sure your student is staying hydrated, pick up a spare kids water bottle, or maybe two. Look for ones where the straw is covered when the bottle is closed — this helps to prevent disease transfer. Recognize that kids are more likely to drink water when it’s cold and refreshing, not tepid. You can keep your child’s water cold with ice or special frozen inserts.

When your student comes back from a long day of learning, make sure there are healthy snacks on hand. These may not have been on the school supply list, but they’re vital for parents and kids alike. Fresh fruit, yogurt cups, and cut-up veggies and dip all are good items to grab from the fridge. Other grab-and-go items from the cabinet include trail mix, peanut butter crackers, and granola bars. These are great for kids who need a pick-me-up before a sports practice or band rehearsal.

4. Health and Safety Basics

With the return to in-person instruction, now is the time to ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date. Especially with COVID still in circulation and new variants cropping up, you’ll want your child well-fortified against this still-threatening disease. If case counts spike in your area, be ready with KN95 face coverings in case there’s a return to masking. And it never hurts to keep a mini-bottle of hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack.

Another thing your child might need — without you necessarily knowing it — is corrective glasses. Have your student’s vision assessed so you’ll know for sure. Your child certainly can’t learn at their best if they can’t see the whiteboard clearly or words are blurred on the page. And don’t tell yourself your second grader couldn’t possibly require glasses yet. With the increase in screen time and exposure to blue light, young people are needing glasses earlier.

Is your student biking to school? If so, check their bike helmet. It may have been the right size last year, but kids grow fast, and it may not fit as well now. Pick up a new one if necessary. Also, give their bicycle a going-over to ensure the tires and brakes are in good shape.

It’s Never-Ending — and That’s OK

Mechanical pencils will run out of lead. Markers will dry out. Sticky notes will disappear into the cosmos. And the graphing calculator’s batteries will die right before the trig exam.

As long as you have kids in school, you’re bound to hear “Hey Mom (or Dad), I have to get…” While you can’t anticipate their every need, keeping the school essentials listed above on hand will help your child’s school year go more smoothly.

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