The Universal Unwritten School Supply List

The Universal Unwritten School Supply List | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Dear Kids,

I know you love getting new school supplies each year.  It’s the highlight of late summer.  After we hit Target to pick up the folders (no brads, with pockets), the #2 pencils (package of 12, sharpened), and the markers (8 count, classic colors), you love to bring them home and carefully sort and organize the supplies in your new backpack.  You may think you are now ready for school!  However, there is another unwritten school supply list that you and all other students will need, regardless of grade level. 

This list is applicable to the nervous kindergartners and the seasoned fifth graders, the seniors ready to rule the school and the incoming freshman apprehensive about what high school may hold.  While the items on this universal list aren’t nearly as tangible as the scissors, rulers, and scientific calculators, they are just as or even more important.  Unfortunately, they can’t be purchased in a store or kept in your pencil case for easy access.  They are invisible, reusable, and free.  Now that I have your curiosity piqued kids, let me share with you what these additional school supplies are:

  • Kindness – At school there will be many children who are not like you.  They may not look like you or think like you.  They may have special needs and differing abilities.  Many may not have the same home life you do and some may not have had food available for breakfast on any given day.  Some of them may behave in a way that makes you realize they do not have access to this same unwritten school supply list.  Your job is to treat others how you would like to be treated and always be kind.   
  • Respect – For your teachers, school staff, and each other. Let me tell you, kids, I love you but if I had 30 of you at home on a daily basis, I would be running for the hills!  Your teachers have a tough and important job.  You owe it to them to be a good listener and follow instructions.  You should also be respectful to your fellow students.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Don’t take what’s not yours.  The basic skills you learned in kindergarten still apply on many levels as you make your way through the school years.   
  • Responsibility – Take good care of your things.  Remember to turn your homework in on time.  If you drop a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up instead of leaving it there for someone else to clean up.  If you borrow something from someone, be sure to return it.  Use your manners.  If someone trusts you with their friendship, be a good keeper of it.
  • Interpersonal Skills – You will have disagreements with friends and this will be hard, whether you’re in kindergarten and your friend took your crayon or you’re in middle school and a friend betrayed your trust. The lessons you are learning now about how to not make assumptions, give people the benefit of the doubt, and address disagreements directly with the friend instead of behind their back will serve you the rest of your life.  There is much more to be learned in school than strictly academics.  
  • Appreciation – You are so fortunate to have access to an education.  Not everyone in the world has this privilege.  While you may complain about homework and your required 20 minutes of reading per night, please understand that this education you are receiving will be the foundation of whatever you choose to do or be as an adult.  You should appreciate and take full advantage of the opportunity.    

Well, there you have it kids.  Now you know all the school supplies you need for school.  Yes, I know the list may be overwhelming!  You’re a kid after all, how can you be expected to know, understand, and practice all of these skills?  That’s what is so special about this school supply list.  These supplies should not simply be taken to school on the first day and filed away in your desk or locker.  Instead, put them in your mental backpack to retrieve and practice as needed.  Using them will be a learning process with trial and error that evolves as you do.  You won’t always make the best choice in every situation, but that’s okay because neither do adults.  This is an open book exercise with no formal test at the end of the class. 

I’m always here as your Mom to help you sort through situations and be a sounding board for your thoughts.  My hope is that you will use these universal school supplies along with your colored pencils (12 count, sharpened) and spiral notebooks (3 subject, wide rule) to have many good learning experiences during this upcoming school year and beyond.  Happy back-to-school!



Hi! I'm Jami Willander, just your average super Mom (but aren't we all?) I'm a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and work full time in finance at the University of Minnesota Physicians. I have a husband of almost 14 years and two daughters, ages 9 and 11. I'm a native Texan who took the scenic route with a military parent and ended up in Minnesota about half my life ago. I’ve long settled into being Minnesotan as I love tater tot hotdish and rarely say Ya’ll anymore! My family likes to camp at MN state parks and make the most of our state’s beautiful summers and lakes. I like music, travelling, kickboxing, dark chocolate, sunsets, and watermelon in no particular order. I try to keep up the balance of work, life, occasional adventures, and sanity while mostly surviving and sometimes thriving. In my free time you can find me at my kids’ sports and school activities, watching Netflix, trying a new recipe, or reading historical fiction.


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