So many of my students love working with the school supplies we provide at the Genesis Tutoring in-person office. I’m constantly being asked where I got them from. I personally discovered the joy of investing in “fancy” school supplies when I was in university, after many years of penny pinching at Bureau en Gros (a lesson learned from my parents). If you are someone who admires clean, aesthetic notes, then trust me on this: splurge on school supplies. This does not mean spending thousands of dollars on a gold-plated pen — it realistically means spending closer to 50$ on the “good” Sharpie highlighters, quality lead pencils, and paper pads that get you excited to use them. If this is within your budget and values, I promise it will make a surprising difference in your day to day experience as a student. A note to parents reading this: these are great stocking stuffers or Hanukkah gifts for the upcoming holidays.

six pads of paper, two of which are pink, two purple, two blue, all pastel, by Amazon Basics

At Genesis Tutoring, we exclusively use yellow lined paper to exchange notes and do calculations. This makes it easy for students to separate the work they did with their tutor with the work they did in class. If you are a student with us, we would actually not advise you to get yellow paper pads (to avoid having your tutor’s notes get lost with the others). We recommend other coloured paper pads, especially from companies like Amazon Basics. These paper pads have a satisfying rip and provide good quality paper. They make taking notes in class, or in tutoring, slightly more enjoyable (and isn’t that worth chasing?!).

For highlighters, we use liquid ones by Sharpie. Our students calls these the “juicers,” because they leave vibrant, thick streaks that dry in seconds. A variety of colours sits neatly in a pencil holder on our desk, and I’ve noticed that these highlighters bring back a bit of childlike wonder, especially in my older students. They take their time selecting the “right” colour, and take a breath to steady themselves before setting out to make a clean, neon streak. I really love these. You can get them on Amazon Prime here.

If you are a fan of lead pencils, I suggest Pentel’s 0.7mm, P207. They have a good weight them without being overwhelming, and write extremely smoothly. We stick to 0.7mm lead at the tutoring centre because I find that 0.5mm snaps too easily, and 0.9mm is definitely an acquired taste. These lead pencils have lasted us years and look brand new. The only criticism I have about these lead pencils is their erasers. Although the erasers are great quality, they are small, and hidden behind a cap. When our students use them, we keep a proper eraser nearby (I love a classic STAEDTLER for erasers).

Doing math in pen can feel like playing with fire — what if you make a mistake? But what if you don’t? I grew fond of doing math in pen when I was halfway through university. It felt chaotic and risky, often leading to a paper full of scratched out equations because I couldn’t erase them. However, it made me careful. It made me think. It made me proud of myself when I didn’t make a mistake, and I could marvel at all the permanent and correct markings I’d done in a row. These are the pens I used and still use every day at Genesis Tutoring. When one of my students is really getting the hang of a concept, I hand them a Uniball Vision Needle Micro Point Pen and say “now do it again, but with this”. This is always met with a sense of hesitation, followed by a sense of accomplishment. Get these pens.

Whenever a student is ready to make their Memory Aid or Cheat Sheet, we whip out “the thick paper”. This Five Star 10-7/8 X 8-3/8 Inch paper is a heavier and thicker card stock than our usual paper pads. It feels expensive and professional, which is exactly how you want to feel when making your Memory Aid. There is really nothing like a good, thick piece of paper that makes smooth waw-waw-waw noise when you shake it in the air.

I also recommend Five Star’s Spiral Quad Ruled Notebook for math notes, which has a plastic cover, but we don’t use these at the tutoring centre (we use paper pads instead). Those notebooks are ideal for STEM classes and are what I used for many years as a student myself.

I hope you found this list helpful. Again, I’m not sponsored or affiliated with any of these vendors — this list took a lot of trial and error, over many years, to get just right. If you’d like to coordinate or get tutored by me at the office, don’t hesitate to reach out here.