As the new school year approaches, parents and caregivers of children with special needs are gearing up to return to the classroom.  This article will explore a thoughtful back-to-school supplies shopping list for children with special needs, featuring items like earmuffs, pencil grips, writing slant boards, fidget toys, fidgeting foot bands, visual timers, visual reading guides, and more. Let's dive in!

  1. Earmuffs/Earplugs

For some children with sensory processing challenges, the noisy and bustling school environment can be overwhelming. Sensory earmuffs designed to reduce noise can be a valuable addition to school supplies. Earmuffs act as a sensory filter, dampening loud sounds and creating a calmer environment, thus enhancing focus and concentration. They can be especially helpful during noisy activities such as assemblies, recess, or busy hallways.  A few of our favorite styles include our classic Junior Earmuffs, Ultimate Slim Earmuffs, Noise Reduction Headsets, Ultimate 10 Earmuffs, or our Earsoft Earplugs if you're looking for something more subtle.


  1. Pencil Grips

Writing and drawing tasks can be challenging for children with fine motor difficulties. Pencil grips are ergonomically designed tools that fit over standard pencils or pens, providing a comfortable and supportive grip. They promote proper finger positioning and reduce hand strain, making writing tasks more manageable for students with motor coordination difficulties or weak hand muscles.  A few popular options include the pencil grip, stetro grip, finger cup duo grips, and our grotto grip. Our righty sampler kit is another great option for trying out a variety of different options.

righty pencil grip sampler

  1. Writing Slantboard

A writing slantboard is an angled surface on which children can place their papers while writing or reading. This simple tool helps improve posture and eye-hand coordination, making it easier for students with fine motor or visual challenges to write neatly and comfortably. The incline also reduces fatigue during extended writing sessions.

flatfold slantboard

  1. Fidget Toys

Fidget toys have gained popularity for good reason. For children with attention difficulties or sensory needs, fidget toys offer a non-disruptive way to channel excess energy and maintain focus. These toys can be discreetly used under the desk or on the lap during class, helping to improve concentration and promote a calm learning environment.  A few of our favorite classroom fidgets include thinking putty, bendeez, marble boinks, fidgeting finger springs™, and our roly poly oodles fidget ball.

marble boinks cropped

  1. Fidgeting Foot Bands

Fidgeting foot bands are a fantastic addition to the list as they allow students to release excess energy and maintain focus without disrupting the class. These bands can be placed around the legs of the chair, providing an outlet for fidgeting and promoting active sitting. For children with attention difficulties or sensory needs, fidgeting foot bands offer an excellent way to improve focus and engagement during lessons.

fidgeting foot bands pic

  1. Visual Timers

Time management and transitioning between activities can be tough for some children with special needs. Visual timers are excellent tools for providing a concrete representation of time passing. By using color-coded segments or a countdown display, these timers help students better understand the passing of time, which can ease anxieties and promote smoother transitions between tasks.

Timers Group

  1. Visual Reading Guides

Reading can be a challenging activity for children with dyslexia or other reading or perceptual difficulties. Visual reading guides, such as trakkers, slide readers or bookmark reading guides, can alleviate visual stress and improve reading fluency. These tools help children focus on individual lines of text and reduce distractions from surrounding words or letters.

bookmark reading guides

  1. Specialty Scissors 

Craft activities are an essential part of any child's educational experience, but traditional scissors might pose challenges for students with motor difficulties. Look for scissors with adaptations like spring-loaded handles or loop scissors that require less finger strength to operate. These adaptations enable children to participate fully in arts and crafts activities and develop their fine motor skills.

 long loop self open scissors cropped

In preparing for the new school year, it's crucial to prioritize the unique needs of your children. By curating an inclusive back-to-school supplies shopping list, we can create an environment that supports their academic success and overall well-being.  As parents, caregivers, and educators, let's work together to create an environment where every child feels valued, understood, and included. By embracing inclusion and providing the appropriate resources, we can make a significant impact on childrens' educational journey.


More articles you might like:

10 Best Calming Tools for School Classrooms

The Benefits of Noise Dampening Tiles for Sensory Rooms and Classrooms

Preparing Children for a Successful Back-to-School Season

The IEP Process Demystified: A Guide for Teachers