Back to School in Russia – What’s on Their Shopping List

School supplies- Schools in Russia

It’s that time of year for kids to go back to school in Russia! September 1st is also known as the Day of Knowledge and for years, Russian students around the country have been going back to school on September 1st no matter what day of the week it was with flowers in their hands for their teachers and smiles on their faces happy to be back in school with their peers. This year the Day of Knowledge is on a Saturday but for many schools, this is just a concert at school and then they’re free to go home for the day.

Unlike schools in the USA, in Russian schools children most often don’t change classes or mix with other students of the same grade throughout the years which means students look forward to getting back to class and seeing their friends and classmates. This is the same for universities. Once you pick a major, you and a group of students are assigned together and you go to all of the same classes with the same group of people until graduation.

Books and Notebooks

Notebook - school in Russia

The text books are usually quite small in size and light weight. The textbook paper is typically more thin than what I would consider normal for a textbook but this is the same with fiction and other types of books as well. Some speculate that it’s to keep the books lightweight but I also guess it’s a bit cheaper to make as well.

All notebooks come with grid paper instead of single lines. Sometimes you can find single-lined notebooks but they are much more difficult to find than gridded ones.  Traditional notebooks are quite thin and are used for exams. Schools recommend for parents to buy about 20 of these traditional notebooks.

Dress Code

School Uniform - school in Russia

Most schools in Russia require strict uniform and dress codes. Girls are allowed to wear skirts or pants with blouses and guys wear pants and shirts with a suit jacket.
*School uniforms are cheaper after September 4-5 but it’s harder to find the appropriate size. In some schools, parents buy uniforms in bulk to get a good discount.

Kids should also have sport clothes: a t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes that don’t have black soles since it scuffs the floors.

Shoes should be kept clean, clothes should be ironed and tidy, hair is most often required to be up or pulled back and out of the way and nails should be kept tidy and, in many schools, unpainted or painted with pastel colors only.

School Supplies

School supplies-school in Russia

Pens should be ball-type – gel in elementary school is forbidden by many teachers because they smear.

Colored pencils for children under 3rd grade and markers 3rd grade and up.

Colored paper, cardboard, glue, scissors, modeling clay, drawing albums, paints, brushes, a cup for water.

Regular pencils (old school style), compasses, pencil sharpener and eraser.

Files and folders styled like envelopes with snap close to keep subject textbooks and notebooks for each subject organized.


Flowers - school in Russia

Students always take flowers to their teachers on the first day of school in Russia. Flowers should be an odd number. An even number of flowers is considered bad luck and only for funerals and condolences.
*Some classes get together and arrange a group bouquet.

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