Your guide to back-to-school essentials, from the best backpacks and tech accessories to COVID-19 safety supplies

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best school supply list includes pencils and notebooks
  • We rounded up the best back-to-school essentials for remote and in-person learning in 2021.
  • Whether your child needs a backpack, laptop, or notebook, we've researched and tested the best ones.
  • Below are our favorite classroom and virtual learning supplies, tech, and safety essentials.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Back-to-school season is stressful at the best of times. Between making sure your student has the right number of notebooks, folders, and every textbook on their list, the sheer amount of essentials to stock up on can be overwhelming.

With remote and in-person classes factoring into the 2021/2022 school year, there are even more essentials to consider to help students stay organized and focused during the school day and beyond. These include products like face masks, hand sanitizer, virtual learning supplies, and even online tutoring services.

Here at Insider Reviews, we've made it our mission to research and test the gear your kids will need for a successful school year, whether they're attending elementary school or junior or senior high. From backpacks and lunch boxes to laptops and printers, we've put together this list of dozens of reviews and buying guides to bring you a comprehensive school supply list.

We've also included a selection of health and safety supplies so kids can stay safe if they're returning to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more about our favorite back-to-school essentials for all grades:

The best back-to-school deals

Back-to-school shopping can be an expensive undertaking, but we're tracking discounts on kids clothing, basic school supplies, laptops, tablets, and more. You can save money at stores like Kohl's, Nordstrom, Staples, Target, Apple, and Best Buy.

Here are the best back-to-school sales and deals:

The best classroom essentials
Elementary school teacher

For students headed back to the classroom or learning at home, they'll need many of the usual school supplies, including pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, and planners. Backpacks, lunch boxes, and water bottles will be on many school supply lists too.  

Here are the classroom essentials we recommend:

Superbreak Backpack (medium)Advance 3 Subject Notebook (medium)Pencils (medium)Lunch Box (medium) The best tech essentials for school
HP Chromebook 11

More and more schools are integrating laptops into their daily learning, and it's even more important to have the right tech when students are attending school virtually. Whether you need a webcam to add to your preexisting setup, or you want to invest in a new laptop that your child can use for years to come, we have great tech guides geared specifically toward students' needs.

Read more about the best tech for students:

Chromebook 4+ (medium)2020 iPad 10.2-inch (8th Gen) (medium)Idea Pad Flex 5 (medium) The best remote learning essentials
fire 7 kids

Transitioning to virtual learning was a bit of a shock at first, but as a new school year starts, we recognize how to make the most of it for kids and parents alike. We've compiled several resources and tools to help your kids thrive in a homeschooling environment.

Here are the best remote learning essentials:

Malm Desk (medium)Wave Headphones (medium)Tutors (medium)C920 HD Pro Webcam (medium) Our recommendations for health and safety supplies for in-person learning
crayola school mask

Keeping kids healthy and safe is front of mind as students return to the classroom. To help protect kids and their teachers, we've rounded up face masks for kids and hand sanitizer, as well as products parents and teachers can use at home and in the classroom. And be sure to read up on CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.

Read our guides to the best health and cleaning supplies:

Protective Mask (5 Pack) (medium)Kids Face Mask 2-Pack - Kali the Kitty & Bori the Bear Mask (medium)Advanced Hand Sanitizer Soothing Gel (8 oz) (medium)
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