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25 Back-to-School Essentials for Middle Schoolers

Get our checklist of middle school back-to-school supplies and this year's trending back-to-school outfits for middle schoolers.
Back-to-School Essentials for Middle Schoolers
Updated: August 29, 2023
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Parents today are always anxious during the back-to-school season, especially those who have children transitioning into middle school. Wanting to make sure their children are ready for the new school year, parents are always searching for ways to help their children transition smoothly. 

One of the first steps to ensure a successful transition from elementary school is to buy the best back-to-school essentials for middle school. Parents should also find out more about middle school back-to-school trends to help their children feel confident in this new chapter of their lives.

Related: Printable Back-to-School Checklist

What Should Students Bring on the First Day of Middle School?

The first day of middle school is very overwhelming, but being prepared would make the day much easier and more exciting. Students should bring school essentials with them. The school website usually provides a list of middle school supplies needed. 

Purchasing these supplies beforehand would help students start their year with confidence. However, if the school website doesn’t provide a middle school back-to-school shopping list, then the students should bring personal items, a notebook, two pencils, a folder, and a good backpack with them. During the first day of school, they should ask a teacher what back-to-school essentials they need for middle school.

Back-to-School Essentials for Middle School

Most schools ask students to purchase specific middle school supplies needed for the school year. Here are the top 25 middle school supplies that would give your child a headstart in the upcoming school year.

  1. Basic Scientific Calculator

Every middle school student requires a scientific calculator. Parents should keep in mind, however, that middle school students take arithmetic and basic algebra. They do not require advanced calculators for simple math. When the kids transition into high school, they can upgrade from basic scientific calculators to more advanced ones.

  1. Cell Phone

Parents should consider buying a cell phone for their middle school children. Today, using cell phones is the primary method of connecting and communicating with friends and family. By calling their children regularly, parents could guarantee the safety of their children.

  1. Backpack

According to AirScapeBag, middle schoolers should purchase a backpack with a width of 16 inches, a length of 18 to 20 inches, and a depth of 8 inches. In addition to the size of the backpack, parents should consider a backpack with a padded back, with more than one compartment, and that is currently trending in middle school. 

According to Today, these are the trending backpacks currently available on Amazon: 

  1. Reusable Water Bottle

Purchasing a reusable water bottle is a necessity. Children should be encouraged to stay hydrated. Parents should consider the size and weight of the bottle before purchasing it. A lightweight bottle that holds 20-32 ounces of water is usually great for middle school students.

  1. Alarm Clock

Parents should purchase a high-quality alarm clock for their children, especially for the back-to-school season. Most middle schoolers set alarms on their phones; however, this causes a lot of issues. 

Many students today are sleep-deprived because they tend to stay up on their phones. Encouraging a no-phone policy during the night and giving them an alarm clock instead would help children get a good night's sleep.

  1. Combination Lock and Locker Accessories

Middle school boy opens his locker and puts notebooks in it on the first day of school
Getty Images

Anne Rundell County Public Schools recommends all middle schoolers get a combination lock for their lockers if they want their personal items to be safe. Parents should also consider buying locker accessories for their children to help them stay organized. Some trending locker accessories include a magnetic pencil organizer, a locker mirror, a whiteboard, and an adjustable shelf.

  1. USB Flash Drive

Students are known to lose their printed essays or have the paper get damaged or torn when shoved in a backpack. Purchasing a USB flash drive can solve this problem by helping students keep all their essential documents in one place.

  1. Watch

Students should have a watch on them during school hours. Some students rely on phones to tell the time. However, according to Away for the Day, not all schools in the United States allow students to carry phones and those who do make students turn them off during class time. Therefore, middle schoolers should wear watches to be able to always keep track of time.

  1. Three-Ring Binders

Parents should purchase 3-ring binders for their children to help keep their important documents organized and safe. Binder dividers are great for organizing binders.

  1. Wallet

Middle school students should carry wallets. Their wallets should contain lunch money, emergency money, and their IDs.

  1. Hand Sanitizer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students should purchase hand sanitizer with at least 60 % alcohol. Hand sanitizer can effectively protect children’s health from various diseases including the flu.

  1. Planner

Students usually struggle with remembering the deadlines of assignments and homework. Having a calendar or planner is a great way to stay organized and keep up with schoolwork.

  1. Art Supplies

According to the Arts Academy in the Woods, all middle schoolers take art education because it helps promote critical thinking, decision-making, and language and social skills. Therefore, art supplies are required for each middle school student and some of the most common art supplies parents should purchase are glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, rulers, staplers, scissors, and construction paper.

  1. Lunch Bag/ Lunch Box

Some schools provide lunch for students. However, if they don’t, your child will need a lunch bag or lunch box.

  1. Pencil Case, Eraser, and Pencil Sharpener

Smiling little girl buying school supplies while being with her parents in a bookstore.
Getty Images

Small items like erasers, pencil sharpeners, and highlighters are needed daily. Purchase a good pencil case and place pencils and all the small items in it.

  1. No.2 Pencils and Mechanical Pencils

No. 2 pencils are perfect for assignments. Most schools recommend these pencils. However, some students prefer mechanical pencils because they do not require sharpening. Therefore, parents should consider buying both mechanical pencils and NO.2 pencils. Finally, parents can also buy a few ballpoint pens for their children. They may be useful for taking notes.

  1. Index Cards

Index cards are perfect for making flash cards. Parents should buy index cards to help their children study more efficiently.

  1. Highlighters

Purchasing highlighters for your children is a necessity. Highlighters are a commonly used strategy for studying. It helps students focus on the most important information when studying.

  1. Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are needed to help remind students of important information. Students are always busy and may forget certain tasks. Hence, sticky notes can be useful in organizing students’ thoughts.

  1. Loose-Leaf Paper

Students should always have loose-leaf paper in their backpacks. Many teachers prefer using loose-lead paper for certain in-class assignments like class essays.

  1. Spiral Notebooks

Parents should buy their children at least one spiral notebook for each subject. Spiral notebooks are better than composition notebooks since spiral notebooks can be flattened completely making it easier to write on.

  1. Book Covers

Book covers should definitely be on the middle school back-to-school supplies list. Most books belong to the school; therefore, it is important to use book covers to prevent the books from ripping.

  1. Laptop

Parents do not need to buy laptops for their children while in middle school, but they do come with a lot of benefits. Students can research questions, connect with their friends, and complete assignments using laptops. A laptop will also help your middle schooler get used to typing their own assignments which will help them in high school and college/ 

  1. Printer

It is great to purchase a printer for both parents and kids to use. If your child’s teacher still requires students turn in a hard copy for every assignment, a home printer will help them skip the stress of needing to run to the library to print before it closes. 

  1. Trending Outfits

Parents should consider purchasing new trending clothes for their children before starting middle school. At this stage, children usually enter a self-discovery journey, typically shown through their clothing choices. Looking cool and popular is quite important for middle schoolers. Therefore, parents should talk to their children about what styles they like and help them choose trending clothes that match their personal styles.

Trending Back-to-School Outfits

kid with book and backpack listens music in earphones, school.
Getty Images

Entering the first day of middle school with cool clothes can help children build friendships quickly. Here are the top trending middle school clothes.

  1. Bright-Colored Clothing

Picking outfits with bright colors is a great choice. In 2023, bright colors like neon green and hot pink are very popular in schools.

  1. Neutral-Colored Clothing

Bright-colored clothing is trending in 2023; however, so is neutral-colored clothing. Middle schoolers should choose to wear neutral colors if they want a minimalist look. It is all about what style the student likes.

  1. Denim Clothing

No one can go wrong with a denim jacket or shirt. Students should consider pairing their denim clothing with jeans or tights. Denim dresses are also trending now. A middle school student can definitely make a fashion statement on the first day of school by wearing a cute denim dress.

  1. Crop Tops

Crop tops have been trending for a while. Pairing a crop top with high-waisted jeans would be an excellent look for the first day of middle school. A word of caution: Students should check their school dress code and pair crop tops with high-waisted pants and skirts that don’t expose enough stomach to avoid potential violations. 

  1. Oversized Hoodies and Sweatshirts

Middle school boy wears oversized grey hoodie, back to school outfit
Getty Images

Oversized hoodies and sweatshirts have recently become fashionable. Children should feel comfortable at school, and wearing an oversized hoodie or sweatshirt is one way to feel comfortable while also looking cool.

  1. Graphic Shirts

Some middle schoolers love to wear graphic t-shirts, shirts that have bold images and phrases, because they represent what they believe in.

  1. Sneakers

Middle schoolers could also wear casual clothing with bright sneakers. Wearing sneakers has become one of the most popular trends in middle and high school. Boys and girls love to wear them because they are comfortable, are found in any color and print, and can make a fashion statement.

  1. Clothing with Pop Culture Symbols

Middle schoolers can also wear items of clothing that represent pop culture trends or characters from their favorite anime or TV show. Clothing that represents personal interests is trending in 2023.

  1. Athletic Clothing

Athlesiure has been a huge trend for a few years now! Wearing athletic clothing every day for school is quite common these days. Middle schoolers love to wear leggings and joggers with oversized shirts and scrunchies. 

  1. Accessories

Middle schoolers can look great on the first day of middle school by adding their favorite accessories to their outfits. They could choose to wear casual clothing and complement their outfits with bold accessories like big earrings, bracelets, or sunglasses.

Back-to-School Supplies and Middle School

All in all, purchasing these middle school essentials can help children feel comfortable and confident in school. Parents should also help their children choose outfits that are currently popular and that fit their children’s personal interests and styles.


Sources +

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, June 22). Hand hygiene in school and Early Care and Education. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.,and%20spreading%20germs%20to%20others.

Need to know: School Backpack Capacity Guidelines for Kids of all ages - airscape-your trustworthy bag/backpack supplier in China. Airscape. (n.d.).

Ruston, D., Orlebeke, A., Friedman, T., & Tabb, L. (2017, December 13). Survey reveals that the majority of US middle schools allow students to ...

The Importance of Arts Education in middle school. Arts Academy in the Woods. (n.d.).

TodayShow. (2022, July 28). From Nike to L.L. Bean, 21 budget-friendly backpacks for every student.

Will every student have a locker? do all students need a lock?. Will every student have a locker? Do all students need a lock? (n.d.).,their%20belongings%20in%20their%20locker.

Halimeh Salem

About Gemma

Halimeh is an experienced teacher who has worked in a variety of US classroom settings. She is… Read more

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