Top 5 School Supplies According to Moms

We asked working moms to talk to us about the MVP school supplies in their house

n a qualitative survey, we talked to moms between the ages of 24 and 54 with at least two kids in school. We asked them to tell us about the superstar school supplies that help them get the kids set up for back-to-school. It turns out the top items on the list also keep mom organized at work and home.

One of our own working moms at Avery was also on hand to chime in with her own top 5 back-to-school supplies and how her family uses them. Avery Senior Manager, Sheila V., has two boys in school, ages 12 (6th grade) and 13 (8th grade). Join us as we count down the top 5 must-have back-to-school supplies for moms and kids.

Other back-to-school resources you might like:

1) Writing instruments, the most universal of back-to-school supplies

Home, school, work—something to write with is one of the most basic needs. It makes total sense that pens, pencils, highlighters, dry-erase markers, and permanent markers topped the list of must-have school supplies for all the moms in our survey..

2) Dry-erase white boards: MVP of school supplies for families

White boards and dry-erase markers are essential school supplies for busy families. For example, a family white board is home base for organizing activity schedules, business travel, appointments, and sharing reminders. Simply put, having everyone’s agendas on a dry-erase calendar is the best way to manage a busy family’s schedule. Especially during times of transition like back-to-school season.

Colorful, pen-style dry-erase markers (24481) are perfect for color-coding and keeping track of everyone’s schedule on a family white board.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more helpful how-to videos for customizing with Avery Design and Print Online.

3) Binders: the undefeated champ of back-to-school supplies for kids

Binders are number one on every school supply list. In fact, they’re so essential for back-to-school that we devoted an entire article to breaking down the best school binder for every age and level. From the best binders to stretch your budget to the ones that are best for loose-leaf college textbooks, we cover the topic in depth!

That being said, binders are also one of the best tools to help you get your desk organized, whether at home or in an office building. While there are a lot of binder styles to choose from, durable view-front binders are by far the most versatile for school, the office, and at home. Maybe in part because there are so many cool ways to decorate binder covers or create custom binder spine inserts. If you’re still deciding on what kind of binders you like, check out our helpful binder resource page where you can quickly browse different styles and compare features

Moreover, Avery Design and Print Online (ADPO) features tons of free binder cover and spine templates to use with view-front binders. You can personalize it with custom text, colors, and graphics. You can also design your own binder cover art in ADPO using the graphics library or upload your own digital artwork.

Of all our binders, this 2-inch durable view binder (17034) is definitely our top pick for versatility and getting the most bang for your buck.

4) Pocket folders, the best tool for organizing loose papers

Pocket folders are one of those school supplies that are great to buy in bulk. They come in handy for so many different projects at school, work, and home. From reports at school or work to tax forms, insurance records, and other important paperwork at home, they keep papers together and don’t take up much room in a backpack or laptop bag.

Our 25-pack of classic blue report covers (47986) is a staple for back-to-school and super useful around the house or at work.

5) Dividers: On every school supply list for organizing binders

Binders are a back-to-school essential, so it’s natural that dividers to keep those binders organized are on every school supply list. The hottest trend right now is plastic dividers because they’re durable enough to last the whole year, be reused, and even be wiped down when needed. They actually work really well for creating your own recipe binder, like we did here.

Overall, we are big fans of plastic dividers with pockets and easy-to-change tabs. For example, dividers with erasable tabs like these ones or these insert tab dividers are great because you can just buy new tab refills for them.

Overall, our favorite dividers are these 5-tab dividers (11906). We love them because it’s easy to customize and print the tab inserts and replace them with the matching refills (11227) when needed.

Real-life Avery mom shares her personal top 5

1) Highlighters

“We use them mostly for school. They’re always on both my kids’ school supply lists, but we also use them at home for coloring. I use them for color-coding notes at work, or adding color in my personal planner.”

A colorful assorted pack of pen-style Hi-Liter® markers (23585) is Sheila’s go-to for color-coding.

2) Ultrafine permanent markers

“We also use these around the house all the time. For me, it’s mostly crafting or art projects. For the boys, it’s mostly ‘no brothers allowed’ signs.”

Sheila likes these chunky, colorful, desktop-style permanent markers with chisel tips (24800) for making signs and crafting.

3) Dry-erase markers

“Talk about MVP—these were some of our most-used school supplies during distance learning, per the teacher’s requests. Now that regular school classes are back in session, I’ve been using them to track our family cleaning schedule. The kids check off chores from a list before their daily screen time allowance is issued.”

Pen-style dry-erase markers like these (24459) are ideal for chore charts and other family organization.

4) Sheet protectors

“These are actually super versatile in terms of a lot of bang for a little buck. We use them as intended to organize paperwork at school and work, but also as makeshift dry-erase boards and to make worksheets reusable. I also use them to organize summer craft projects, store their drawings, and organize my recipes.”

5) Avery Ultra Tabs®

“These aren’t always on school supply lists, but boy are they useful! The kids use them like crazy on their notes and as bookmarks in their school agendas, textbooks, and books for reading. I use them all the time at work when I’m going through data reports, and they’re truly a great idea for bullet journaling.”

FUN FACT: Among Avery employees, Ultra Tabs are by far the fan favorite for staying organized. You can read the full roundup of our top office supplies for staying organized here.

Sheila is partial to these mini holographic Ultra Tabs in bold jewel tones (74146), but there are so many colors and styles to choose from!

Working moms know how to make it work, during back to school and year round

If anyone knows how to stretch a budget and be resourceful, it’s definitely moms. Working moms, especially, are pulled in a lot of different directions and are experts at leveraging back-to-school supplies for organizing at the office and at home too.

What are your must-have back-to-school supplies? Connect with us on Instagram or Facebook, and let us know!

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.