So, the little ones (or medium / big ones) are going back to school. Join us on a trip down memory lane as we run through some of the latest stationery and school supplies. Does any of this sound familiar?
We’ve split this list into three parts, so that you can stock up based on what kind of classes your child is taking. There’s going to be some crossover between the subjects, but this way you can narrow down what you need.
Before you re-stock, don’t forget to check your drawers and cupboards for still-working pens and unsharpened pencils; be green and put those to use before buying replacements.
For Maths and Science
I always wanted a scientific calculator at school – all the buttons and squiggly symbols made them look so futuristic. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to use one properly, so I spent my days trying to write rude words on the thing instead. (Similarly juvenile men will know what I’m talking about.)
In my classroom the bright kids used compasses for the work, while everyone else used them as improvised tools to jab holes into pencil cases, or scratch names into the desk, caveman style. Whatever kind of student you have in your family, let’s hope a compass will point them in education’s direction.
What on earth are protractors used for? Anyone? There must be some angle the manufacturers are working on to keep these things popular. I guess it takes a smarter man than me to figure it out (or a ten-year-old).
There is a ruler in the protractor set, but who can resist the lure of bending a shatterproof ruler against the edge of a desk and hearing it sproing back up again, flexing and wobbling on the way? Also useful as an improvised catapult to flick paper across the room.
For Art and Design
There were two types of sharpeners at my school. The small metal ones that kids kept in pencil cases and the big ones teachers used, clamped to a desk with a crank on the back that you turned to sharpen. Your child? They get the small one. You? You deserve the special one.
Every artist needs some coloured pencils, and Derwent pencils are ones even I remember using at school. If your child is interested in painting, then watercolour pencils allow your pint-size Picasso to sketch as normal, then add colour and mood by washing over their piece with a wet brush. (They also make a great gift for artistic aunts that go on painting courses. Trust me.)
If your offspring like that hippity-hoppity music, then indulge them a little with Posca markers. Although they look like felt-tips, they are a bit like paintbrushes and allow for all sorts of artistic expression. They’ve got ‘street cred’ too, since they’re used by respected graffiti artists such as Cheo, from Bristol. Wicked!
While you might associate these super-fine pens with draughtsmen, I remember two of the best artists from my school days used pens like these. They were fantastically talented even back then and you could see them bringing stories to life with a flick of a wrist and a seemingly simple line. I stuck to crayons.
You don’t really feel like an artist, or an art student, until you’ve got a portfolio. There’s something about putting your latest crayon creation (I specialised in solid colour circles with titles like ‘apple’ and ‘orange’) in a portfolio that makes you feel like you’ve arrived. And on the chance that your offspring’s creative career takes off, you want to make sure their early works are protected, so they can pay for your holiday to Bermuda.
“Now it’s time to erase that mistake.”
For the Humanities
Oh the humanities! I’d almost forgotten about them. This is perhaps the place were you can dig around the house to see what notebooks and pads, files and folders you have, because you don’t need specialised equipment as you do with art or science. But it’s also an opportunity to buy things that help with your child’s studies all round.
Because school is so demanding these days, kids need to plan ahead for projects and exams well ahead of time, just as if they were in an office. With a wall planner they can see what has to be in and when and, hopefully, will avoid late nights revising – and those mornings where you have to tie a rope to their leg to drag them out of bed.
To become more involved with your child’s lessons, work with them to write topics and questions on these record cards, then pull them out at random to test them. If they can explain what’s on the card, instead of merely reciting it, you’ll know they’re really learning the subject. Plus you can pinch some for your favourite recipes, Hannibal style. (Am I the only one that thinks Mads Mikkelsen mumbles?)
Teenagers are prone to memory lapses, so give your back-to-schooler a hard drive to backup in case they lose their laptop or leave it behind on the bus. USB memory sticks are handy too. Add a spare battery for their mobile; no more excuses about dead phones when you ring them to buy milk on the way back from college.
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Previously on The Euroffice Blog…