School Supplies

Parent Q&A

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  • We have recently moved to Albany from Germany and have two elementary school-age children (grades 3 and 5). They have been assigned to Marin Elementary School, and we have received a lot of information from the district. However, we are at a loss regarding supply lists. We have been poking around and come across some for Ocean View Elementary for last year, but haven't been able to find any for Marin.

    Is there a standard of school equipment that is understood, or can we expect to receive some information closer to the school year's begin (seems a little late)? Judging from the proliferation of back to school ads in the mail and of supply list services online, we are under the impression that we have missed something.

    Looks like your school has a decent website:

    You should go to that back-to-school party and see if you can learn from the other parents. At our school, the teachers sent out letters that were posted on the school website and Facebook page with back-to-school needs. Really, for the first day, you just need a backpack and lunchbox and the teachers will tell you what their specific requirements are. Don't be sucked in by the back-to-school marketing bullhockey!! 

    Welcome to Albany!  Marin Elementary is a great school (I'm a former Marin parent whose kids are now in middle and high school).  Don't worry, you haven't missed anything.  Under California law, you are NOT required to buy any school supplies at all, and the Albany teachers are not in the habit of promulgating the sort of ridiculously specific supply lists that some of my friends in other states have to cope with (none of this 50 pre-sharpened Ticonderoga pencils individually labeled with the student's name, pocket folders in lime green and light purple, etc.)  Your kids will each need a backpack and a lunch bag, comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for PE, and that's all you need to worry about before school actually starts.  Your children's teachers may have recommended items for each student to bring to class for personal use, such as a pencil box or 3 ring binder, and may have a "wish list" for classroom supplies, such as kleenex or markers, but these are optional and you should wait until after the first few days of class to see what is requested.  Some teachers will ask for a cash donation, having already purchased identical classroom supply kits for each of their students.  (Again, this is completely optional, though most Albany parents are able to be generous.  This and any other requested donations for field trip costs or other purposes, and needs for parent volunteers, will usually be explained at Back to School Night.)  Any other suggested supplies, at the elementary level, will be basic items that may be needed for homework, such as binder paper and pencils.  If you'd like to take advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on that sort of thing now, go ahead, but there is no need to rush.  You can pick up whatever your kids' teachers recommend during the first week or so of school.

    The back-to-school ads and supply lists are just marketing to make you *think* you need to buy things! The teacher will let you know what, if anything, is needed when school starts.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Any advice on school supplies for a kindergartner?

July 2012

i don't know if this goes in the ''school'' newsletter, but it's not exactly about school reviews. my child is finally entering kindergarten this fall, and i was wondering what she should bring as far as supply is concerned. so far, i have a lunch box... thanks! clueless in albany

It probably varies from school to school, but our OUSD teachers always give us a list the first week of school of things we need to bring in (mostly stuff for the classroom that the school can't afford to buy, like paper towels). For the first day/week, especially in kindergarten, you don't need much more than a lunchbox, water bottle and backpack (get a sturdy one like Land's End - we went through too many cute-but-crummy backpacks before we figured that out). Stick a small pack of tissues in there and a note that says ''if found please call,'' and you're set. Mom x 2

Congratulations on having a kindergartner. This is an exciting year for both of you. Your child's teacher may send out a letter with a few requested supplies. This letter may come before school starts or shortly after school has started. Otherwise, the three things I would recommend are a lunch box, a backpack and sturdy shoes for PE days. Enjoy! kindergarten teacher

Your kindergartener needs a backpack (get a sturdy, standard size one from LL Bean or Lands End and it will last through elementary school, possibly even longer) and a lunch box/bag. You may want to get some name labels for often-lost items like jackets and water bottles.

All other specifics, like folders and pencils and so on, are different from school to school and even from classroom to classroom, so you need to ask this question of people whose kids have gone to the same school yours will! You may not get a ''supply list'' until the first day of class, or you may get one in the mail after classroom/teacher assignments are made, or there may be one in a PTA or school-published parent handbook or other orientation materials. Or there may not be anything. Usually kindergarteners don't need much, and teachers may simply ask parents to volunteer to supply things like a big box of markers or a bottle of hand sanitizer that will be used by the whole class.

Other than that, just make sure your child has access at home to simple writing and craft materials, in case they're needed for homework or special projects, and of course plenty of books! Holly

Just wait - send your child to school with a backpack and lunch box the first day, the teacher will send home a list of things they want and it varies from class to class, school to school so doesn't work to buy early... Maggie H

Your teacher will give you a list. Typically: Scissors, Pencils, Pencil box, Crayons, Markers, Colored Pencils


Supplies for kindergarten

June 2007

My daughter (and I, I admit) are getting excited about our first ''get ready for school'' shopping trip. She's entering Kindergarten in BUSD. What do kids usually need/bring? A backpack? How about a pencil box/markers, do they bring their own or usually use what's at school? Anything that kids have found particularly useful or unnecessary? Kate

Buy a backpack that's big enough for a 9X12 folder, and an easy to clean lunch box. In BUSD the teacher will have supplies for the children. One caution -- don't buy many new dresses, because by winter break most girls don't wear them anymore -- a friend with older girls told me this when my daughter would only wear dresses with pink or flowers, and she was right -- by January no more pink, and much less interest in wearing dresses. At her school blue is for girls, and black/dark green is for boys. I miss the dresses

At OUSD they advise you to wait and see what your child's teacher requests that they bring. We ended up buying a backpack that was too small to carry his homework folder home in & he didn't need ANY other supplies. Maybe your exciting ''back to school'' shopping trip should just be for a (big) backpack and an outfit & shoes? -I remember back to school fondly, too.

I was the same way! So excited to go to the store and buy the big fat pencils, packs of paper, crayons, etc., just like I did 35 years ago! But alas, the Kindergartners of Berkeley tend to not need much! This may vary by school, but at Oxford, all the Kindergartners need is a backpack and a lunchbox (unless they intend to buy school lunch). The teachers and the school supply everything else. Yes, this is a good thing for the parents, I suppose, but I was a little disappointed that my kids couldn't make a trip to the 5 & Dime like I did! Mom of 3

At the start of school, all your new BUSD kindergartener needs is a backpack and lunch box/bag. Wait a week or so after school starts, and then your child's teacher will probably send home a ''wish list'' of school supplies that can be donated to his/her classroom. Then free to go nuts with the school supplies--your child's teacher will appreciate it! BUSD parent

What supplies does my kindergartener need?

August 2006

My son will begin afternoon kindergarten at Marin School in Albany in a few weeks, and will also attend the before-school childcare onsite.

The Back-to-School sales are in full swing and I find myself wondering, what should he bring? Does he need a backpack? (Or will most kids have one even if it's not strictly needed?) Crayons, paper, things like that? We've not been given any information about school supplies, apparently we won't have a chance to see the classroom or meet the teacher until the day before school starts (!) and I am feeling a little clueless... Clue me in, please!

My daughter went to a different school so I can't answer the specifics but I can say that a backpack was necessary and useful. All the kids had one and we put her lunch box in it and folders came to and from school inside and she stuffed her sweater or jacket in it as the day warmed up. I know little ones aren't supposed to carry things that are too heavy but sometimes the extra space helped to fit a bulky jacket. If your child will be at school for lunch a lunch box is essential. A water bottle that the child can open himself easily is useful. Other than that anything you might need shouldn't be too expensive to buy other times. Good luck

Ask the school. They each have their own suggestions -Anon.