Back to School: Where to Get the Essentials
With school just ‘round the corner, it’s time to fill those backpacks up with back-to-school basics!
With the blissful summer holidays drawing to an end, and a new school term fast approaching, back-to-school preparations are a top priority on our to-do lists. For some of you, your little ones may be returning for yet another academic year, but for all those proud first-timers whose bubs have grown up overnight and are facing their first ever day of kindergarten, this article should come in handy. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the essential supplies to gather, and where you’ll find them, so you can avoid having to trudge through the heat and humidity to search all over town.
Children's School Shoes
First things first, your kids will need school shoes. When enrolling your child, some schools and kindergartens may offer guidelines for the sort of footwear their uniforms require. Some may ask that your child attends in plain, white trainers or black velcro slip-ons, while other school policies may be more relaxed and ask that your child wears anything comfortable. If your child is starting their primary years at an international school, black leather closed-toe shoes are typically required. Here are some popular stores around Hong Kong that stock what you’re after:
This well-known US chain features a collection dedicated to school shoes for all ages from sturdy black shoes and sandals, to white P.E. shoes. They have stores in multiple locations across Hong Kong.
Dr. Kong is another great chain with a large supply of plain school shoes in both black and white for boys and girls of all ages. Check out what’s on offer here. There are Dr. Kong stores all over town - check out their store locator for the one nearest to you. If you’re on a budget, you may find a bargain at one of their many outlets!
Good ol’ Wing On is a renowned school supplies go-to for the little ones right up to the teens. They supply both local and international brands and will have something for you regardless of your budget.
School Bags & Lunch Kits
The next thing you’ll need to assemble is a school bag and lunch boxes for their twice daily commute. Preschoolers and school-kids take great pride in having the coolest bag, so let them choose one that makes them shake with joy. Although some schools may provide a cafeteria or a tuck-shop, most will ask that your child attends daily with a packed lunch, so don’t forget to buy the whole kit - cutlery, small towels, lunchboxes with snack compartments, plastic drink bottles and whatever else they might need to make meal times easier.
If your child isn’t all that fussed with the aesthetic aspects and has a lot to carry each day, why not lean towards practicality with Dr. Kong’s fantastic Chirobag? It’s designed to relieve pressure from their backs with a protective hollow plate for spinal support and development.
They offer cute school bags, lunch boxes and the like from multiple brands for toddlers. Take a peep at Skip Hop’s adorable Lunchies Zoo (lunch bags) and Zoo Pack (backpack) collections that come in all your bub’s favourite animals! Also check out the rectangular butterfly lunchbox from The World of Eric Carle.
With many branches all over Hong Kong, Japan Home Centre comes to the rescue for things like tupperware boxes, plastic water bottles and other equipment for packing homemade lunches.
If you’re after a bag embellished with your kid’s favourite characters from Disney Princesses and Lightning McQueen to the Transformers, there’s always an abundant selection of Hong Kong’s exciting street markets! Why not hop on the MTR or take the Star Ferry over to Kowloon and have a gander? Go see what the stalls have on offer in the Fa Yuen Street markets (Prince Edward), the Ladies’ Market (Mong Kok) or the Temple Street Night Market (Jordan & Yau Ma Tei) to name a few.
Of course, you could always stick to Hong Kong Island and browse Wan Chai Market (although it’s not as elaborate). You’ll also find several stalls in Stanley Market solely dedicated to and packed to the brim with colourful backpacks from popular brands like JanSport and Outdoor for older kids.
Stationery & Supplies
Now, what are your kids going to put into their brand-new school bags? Although most kindergartens and primary schools don’t require their students to be armed with their own stationery, You won’t have to worry about arming a preschooler with stationery, it’s best to have paper, colouring pencils, rulers, glue and whatever else stocked up at home to enhance their learning. Stationery-shopping is always fun - here are a few big ones in Hong Kong that supply everything you’ll need:
Conveniently located smack in the heart of Central on Stanley Street, this stationery store has been around for years. There, your child will be able to choose their favourite notebooks and pencil cases from a wide selection, and fill them up with pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers - the whole shebang!
The moment you step foot into Artland, yourl eyes will be met left, right and centre with psychedelic walls stacked high and ablaze with art supplies in every colour imaginable. This artist’s haven offers everything your child will need to fill up their school bags, from colouring pencils and marker pens to immaculate sets of gel-pens and more.
Conveniently located for Kowloon-side dwellers, CN Square in Yau Ma Tei is another fantastic stationery store with four floors jam-packed with stationery, paints, drawing equipments, office supplies, canvases - you name it, they’ll have it. They have a huge selection of colourful pencil cases and all those bits ‘n’ pieces your child will need (and want). Good luck trying to drag them out of this store!
Although a little pricier than the other options, you’ll find intricate accessories and unique notebooks here, all fine in quality. They are currently located in the basement of Pacific Place III.
Local Stationery Stores
Of course, you could always acquire perfectly durable school supplies at any local stationery store. They are scattered all over the city in every almost every district. Many of you may feel that stationery doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it serves the purpose. The products at these stores are considerably cheaper as well.
If there’s one thing that many schoolchildren are masters at, it’s losing or misplacing their items at school - whether it be their P.E. kits, stationery, lunch boxes or even their entire school bags! It’s advisable therefore, that you stick name labels on everything if you want to avoid having to replace the items time after time. At least with these, there’s a high chance the lost items can be retrieved from the school’s Lost & Found. Here are some places around Hong Kong that specialise in these penny-saving tags:
They customise affordable name labels (water and scratch-proof) in all kinds of colours and characters like Spiderman, Disney, Mickey and more. You can either order your sets of labels through their website, or if it’s easier, you can even transfer the amount to their bank account provided here, fax your contact details and address, and they’ll mail it to you!
A decade ago, FOTOMAX was where we went to get our photos developed, but now you can take advantage of their label printing service for your little ones’ belongings. They offer personalised multi-purpose and clothing stickers priced by the sheet (very cheap). You can even get clothing stickers with your child’s name and photo!
Check out their website and you’ll find a huge selection of name label templates in both pastel and bold colours, decorated with all kinds of designs like dinosaurs, fruit, hearts and animals. They’re currently offering a special reduced price on both standard and waterproof labels, so best order online right way.
Don’t miss their Back-To-School discounts on iron-on embroidered, digital, waterproof, fabric and offset name and photo labels. They also do bag-tags as well as address labels. Simply fill in and submit their Web Order Form (and a photo by email if applicable), and they’ll do the rest.
Not only do they print stickers, tags and labels for clothing and stationery, they can even print your child’s name (in English and/or Chinese) on school bags, shoes, towels, drink bottles and even lunchboxes.
This company also offers stickers and labels for clothing, shoes, bags and more, although their prices are a little more expensive. They claim their labels are durable and resistant to pretty much any sort of wear and tear whether it be from water, microwaves and washing machines to heat and freezing temperatures.
Established in 1962, this store has been supplying uniforms for St. Paul’s schools. With three locations in Hong Kong, they offer embroidered fabric name tabs in both English and Chinese, although without any decoration or aesthetic elements.
Laundry Pens (from any stationery store)
Finally, you could always opt to just buy some permanent laundry pens to mark your child’s uniform items and shoes, although you may have to reapply after a few washes. You can get permanent markers from any local stationery store or any of the art suppliers listed above.
If your poor child is wallowing in anxiety about his or her first day of school, your kind and consoling words may not suffice. If this is the case, why not read them a couple of children’s story books based on how incredibly exciting and fun the first day of school can be? ShopInHK has a massive collection of great books told through the eyes of schoolies; it may help replacer their nerves with curiosity and give them a foretaste of how their big day might play out. These light-hearted books will help reassure them that they’ve got nothing to worry about! Here are some of ShopInHK’s top recommendations:
If you find this to be an effective approach to easing your bubs, then check out ShopInHK’s collection here for more tales.
Other Nice Items to Have...
The first day of school is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we’re sure you will be taking lots of snaps to capture that day. It’s an important photo that is always frame-worthy. As your child flies through their school years, you can look forward to their annual shots, so why not proudly display them around your home? Here are a couple of nice photo-frames specially designed for these pics.
It’s not long ‘til the term begins, so you better get shopping! Take your kid with you and let them choose what they want - this will help them associate school with the fun ritual of back-to-school shopping, and get them revved up! Although they may not realise it until it’s time to enter the big world as a young adult, these are the best and most critical years of their life, so help them make the most of it while it lasts.