Throw the budget out the window, because it’s back to school time and your kid definitely needs that new backpack. And those new shoes. And of course some pencils and notebooks. And it’s going to get chilly at the bus stop once fall rolls around — better bring a jacket. It starts to add up quick, so choose wisely, and by “wisely,” we mean “from this list.” There are back to school supplies for kids of all ages (yes, including you), plus curated picks from a quartet of guys whose collective experience forms a Voltron of educational and kid tech expertise. Your own kid will be kitted out and ready for school; all you’ll have left to do is help with their homework.
The biggest trick to getting kids to feel something other than pure dread at the prospect of the start of a new school year is selling them on the idea that they get a bunch of cool new gear because of it. That can be tough if all you have to offer are the boring usual suspects like pencils and marble composition notebooks. These back to school supplies, on the other hand, might just get them excited to do their homework. And since you just got all geeked up at the mere mention of those über-retro marble notebooks, there are a few suggestions here for you, too. Because every day is back to school day in the working world.
Try as you might to limit screen time, the world is driven by gadgets. Thankfully, not all of them are rotting society’s brain, and the ones on this list will help you stay organized and fully charged while keeping tabs on your kid and helping them learn. There’s also a child-specific tablet thrown in for good measure, because the last thing you want is for Junior to see their little classmates’ electronic toys and run home and give you the Cartman treatment. Don’t worry, it’s not a Toshiba HandiBook.
Just as surely as your child will fall down on the grass the moment they put on white pants, they will request a new backpack at the start of every school year. Should you choose to abide, here are some of the slickest, most surprisingly high-tech, and of course cutest options on the market for all age ranges.
Gone are the days of brown bagging it — at least with an actual brown bag loaded with plastic wrap, baggies, and aluminum foil, all of which wound up in the garbage can. They’d better be gone, anyway. Thanks to these super easy containers, lunch bags, and coolers, your family has no excuse to remain a part of that problem. As for getting your kid to eat those carrot sticks, you’ve still got to solve that one on your own.
It used to be that dad got the cool technical clothes and the kids got a “gently used” hand-me-down raincoat from a distant cousin. Just in time for you to be a dad, those days are gone! From Patagonia to North Face, there’s a smart-looking, high-performance option for any age these days.
Just as surely as kids need shoes, the shoes they need are mainly pretty damn uncool looking; a veritable minefield of squeaky soles, blinking lights, and bedazzling. If you search long enough, though, you’ll find a few kickass kicks. From classics like Vans slip-ons and Converse All-Stars to brands you’ve never heard of like AKID and Plae Ty, here are the outliers of the kid shoe stratosphere. AKA, the ones you wouldn’t be embarrassed to drop your kid off at school in.
These 4 guys have built careers by making kids of all ages smarter: Tinybop founder Raul Gutierrez, Museum Of Modern Art associate publisher Charles Kim, WIRED editor-at-large Jason Tanz, and the GeekDad himself, Matt Blum. Most of what’s in this guide are essentials — their picks are just flat out cool.