The most important tool a student needs to excel in a classroom is an active mind paired with focussed attention, however, obtaining the essential school supplies can greatly benefit a student’s motivation and success.
Back-to-school shopping can go from stressful to exciting when you enter the shop with a clear list of essential items, a dedicated budget and a mission to opt for quality over quantity.
High school math is a big step up from elementary-level math and the difference will be noticeable in a student's life. Courses change, programs and math teachers change. Students learn to adapt to a new learning environment while consuming novel mathematical concepts and equations.
You can help yourself or your child feel at ease in high school math class with the necessary equipment. This comprehensive guide to which equipment to buy for high school math class is intended to make back-to-school shopping more productive so you can achieve success throughout the school year.
How To Prepare For The New School Year
There are two major missteps that many parents make when helping their child with back-to-school shopping — under-shopping and overshopping.
- Under-shopping: This involves buying the essentials and forgetting important technology or supplies that are necessary for a high school classroom but were not previously needed in an elementary school classroom (ex. Graphing calculator).
- Overshopping: This involves stocking up on too many supplies, overspending and buying supplies that are never used.
The easiest way to avoid multiple trips to the store or wasting unnecessary funds is by bringing a comprehensive, specific back-to-school shopping checklist to the store.
Create a Back-to-School Shopping Plan
- Check the curriculum: Many lesson plans and curriculums stay the same year after year so when you are planning your back-to-school shopping ask the school to send over a list of the classes that the first year will be studying.
- Ask the school and teacher: Teachers know what students need in the classroom. If possible, contact the school or math teacher to ask about the required supplies. Many schools post a list on their website detailing the necessary equipment.
- Make a checklist: Create a list by subject and detail the essential supplies for each course. Create one list per semester to avoid overspending, you can always return to the store for the next set of courses.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle: Ask family and friends if they have spare school supplies on-hand. Many families will have working scientific calculators and three-ringed binders from their children who have graduated.
The Most Important High School Math Tool?
The math curriculum includes complex subjects that students will be learning for the first time, from algebra to statistics. High school math requires the same basic supplies like post-it notes, paper clips, a binder, rulers, pocket folders, markers, highlighters, a sharpener, and an eraser, but it also requires more sophisticated technology.
The modern classroom welcomes new technologies like laptops, tablets or voice recorders or digital ebook readers which can all be extremely useful. Although high-tech gadgets may be useful, they are still not a requirement for foundational math classes.
The most important high school math tool is the calculator. There are different types of calculators and various models of each type of calculator. Students must determine which math courses they’re enrolled in and which calculator is required for each class.
Click here to get the best online math tutor.
Benefits Of Calculators
In elementary school, teachers encourage students to solve math equations without the help of a calculator. This mental math helps students grasp basic equations and concepts.
In high school, students require calculators for advanced numerical functions, such as algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric calculations. Calculators become a necessity that enables students to extend their math capacity beyond simple equations into complex algorithms.
The Best Calculator For High School
The best calculator for high school depends on which high school course you or your child are enrolled in. A business course requires a calculator capable of calculating interest and an advanced algebra class a scientific calculator that includes the sin, cos, and tan functions.
Learn more about the three main types of calculators that younger students and high school students may use in their math courses.
The Basic Calculator
This foundational calculator specializes in subtraction, addition, multiplication and division. The basic calculator is sufficient for primary or elementary school level. The basic calculator should cost under $20 and can be used for basic math.
Best model: Casio MS-20UC-WE is a trusted model for under $20.
The Scientific Calculator
The scientific calculator is any calculator that has the following keys – sin, cos, tan, log. The scientific calculator can do everything that the simple calculator can do. It is also able to perform much more complex equations and calculations.
You can perform calculations like Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Precalculus, Calculus, Geometric, Fractions, Equations, Algebraic, Competency, Trigonometry, exponents and logarithms.
Best model: The TI-30XS MultiView™ is a high-quality machine for under $20.
The Graphing Calculator
The graphing calculator can do everything that the simple calculator (like Pre-Algebra and Precalculus) and the scientific calculator can do (like Geometry, Trigonometry and algebraic calculations).
The graphing calculator tends to be larger to accommodate the larger screen and is more expensive than other calculators. It’s possible to obtain a second-hand graphing calculator to save on costs.
- TI-84+ ($90 – $120)
- TI-84+ silver ($115 – $140)
- Advantages: More memory and more downloadable applications than the 84+
- TI-89 ($150)
- Advantages: More built-in functions and capability than the 84+, including a function solver and the ability to solve and simplify problems symbolically
- Disadvantages: More difficult to learn how to use than the others
- TI-Nspire ($135-$160)
- Advantages: Newest model, much faster, bigger screen and some models have a rechargeable battery pack.
- Disadvantages: Cost and the TI-89 calculator is still more capable for calculus.
Where to Shop for Back to School Supplies
Canada offers a wide range of office supply stores, superstores and discount shops where you can buy new and used back-to-school equipment. Before you embark on a trip to the store, search online platforms for second-hand supplies. Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji and eBay allow people to post and sell their used supplies at affordable rates.
Another great way to save on back-to-school supply costs is by contacting friends and family to see if they have extra supplies like binders and calculators that can be reused. Many people have unused school equipment sitting in their homes that could benefit a young student.
Once you have determined what you can reuse and what you need to buy, make a trip to one or more of the following stores to stock up on the necessities.
- Walmart: Offers roll-back pricing and big back-to-school sales and has a wide selection.
- Staples: Carries high-quality supplies but can be more expensive than other retailers.
- The Dollar Store: Sells the basics like notebooks, binders, pens and erasers for affordable pricing but does not carry more high-tech gadgets like graphing calculators.
- Online: If you didn’t find what you were looking for at a brick-and-mortar store you can always search Amazon and have school supplies delivered to you in as little as one day.
Check out our article for more information on how to select a calculator.
The Basic Back To School List For Math Students
It’s time to consolidate all that you’ve learned into one practical list of math supplies. After you have determined a budget, reviewed the curriculum, and decided which calculator you or your child requires, it’s time to shop for back-to-school basic math equipment using the following list.
- Basic calculator
- Scientific calculator
- Graphing calculations
Geometric Measuring Tools
- Scratch paper
- Graph paper
- A pencil case
Other Basic Stationery
- Coloured pencils
Math Resources for Students
Once you have picked up the essential math supplies, you can further support the learning experience with math resources. An engaged learner is proactive and can use ideas for free maths resources for self-study. There are several ways to enable the learning experience at home, including:
- Visit websites that offer free math worksheets and exercises that you can practise.
- Browse free math tests for mock exams or assessment exams to test your knowledge and prepare for finals.
- Watch YouTube videos and tutorials made by mathematics teachers to better understand concepts in an auditory and visual way.
- Connect with a math tutor through an online platform and have virtual tutoring sessions from the comfort of your home.