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Back to School Supplies - Must Have Back to School Supplies for Special Ed.

These Back to School Supplies Score High with Special Education Students


Updated June 16, 2010

Looking for back to school supplies for special education students? In addition to the back to school supplies suggested by your child's teacher, your child may learn more effectively with items from this back to school list for use at home and school.

1. Dictionaries are Essential Back to School Supplies

Back to School Supplies - A Teen Reads a Dictionary

2. Back to School Supplies Should Include Encyclopedias

  • Encyclopedias are helpful references to have on hand to help your child learn basic background information on a wide range of subjects. Well-written and illustrated encyclopedia articles help your child's comprehension and can help with report writing. The Children's Illustrated Encyclopedia is a good example. More comprehensive sets of encyclopedias such as World Book are available at a much higher cost.
  • Digital encyclopedias have several advantages for students with special needs. They offer search capability, illustrations, video, and audio to enhance understanding. Microsoft Encarta, World Book, and Encyclopedia Britannica are available on CD.
  • Illustrated specialty encyclopedias are also available in a number of subjects.

3. Should Your Back to School Supplies Include a Computer?

Back to School - Students Working at Computers

Computers can be helpful tools for students with learning disabilities.  However, there are important considerations to ponder before making that purchase:

  • Has your child had an assistive technology evaluation?  Find tips on choosing the right assistive technology. 
  • Does your child type, or does keyboarding frustrate him and slow him down?
  • Is your child a candidate for text reading, word prediction, and writing assistance software?
  • Have you talked with your child's special education teacher to determine if an at-home computer is an appropriate support for your child?

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4. Pens, Pencils, and Writing Utensils

Multicolored Crayons in a Child's Hands

Choosing the right writing utensils involves some thought.  Pencils that are too hard require more pressure and may cause writing fatigue for students with fine motor weaknesses.  Pencils that are too soft may smear and make writing difficult to read. The same is true for pens.  Some ultra fine point pens can tear paper.  Ask your child's teacher what the best grade of pencil or type of pen is most appropriate for your child.  Alternately, try some different types at home and get your child's opinion on what works best.

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5. Calculators - To Buy, or Not To Buy

Back to School - Calculators Are Helpful Math Tools

Calculators are hotly contested.  If you don't get one for a child with learning disabilities in basic math skills, are you causing frustration?  If you do, are you actually preventing your child to learn to do calculations independently?  Fortunately, as the parent of a special education child, you get to be a part of the decision on what types of accommodations your child receives.  His teachers can help you look at his progress data in math and determine whether a calculator would be helpful.

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6. Measuring and Rulers

Choose rulers that measure up to the teacher's expectations and your child's needs.  Measurement can be tricky for students with special needs, so getting the teacher's opinion is a good idea before you buy.  Look for rulers with clearly visible markings. Many students with fine motor problems struggle with compasses and protractors.  Angle rulers may be easer for some students.  Check with your child's teacher to see if angle rullers are acceptable in your child's class.

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7. Back to School Strategies and Tips - Must Reads for Back to School

Take a break from shopping for back to school supplies and read up on tips and strategies to help you get your child off to a good start in the new school year:

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