If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of chalk on the brilliant black chalkboards as a teacher dressed in a long denim skirt and crisp button up shirt prepares her lesson plan. Children, barely halfway through summer are starting to see sale papers and flyers advertising new back to school supplies and fashionable fall clothes long before the end of summer is actually relevant. And in just a few weeks, the list of back to school supplies expected from your child’s school will be littered at the store fronts of your local stores along with big sales, coupons and hundreds of people trying to find crayons for a quarter. It’s that time again and the thrill of getting a new set of pencils, some blank paper and a new art box are the first step in getting children excited about school again!
For parents, this can be a mixed event. While crayons and the portable pencil sharpener are cheap – adding up the totem pole of items that is needed to make a classroom run can cause dollar sign symbols to interfere with your dreams. The back to school supplies today are expensive and no matter which sale you shop – you can drop $100 or more stocking a classroom with paper towels, hand sanitizers and supplies. Even more frustrating is that while you would be caught dead NOT bringing them, other families just don’t which means you and the others like you are left footing the bill for other kids. This year with the cuts being seen in education – chances are the required school supplies will amount to more than ever.
There really is nothing you can do about it. Your children need to the tools to succeed in life. Still, there are a few money saving ideas that can make sure you get the most for your dollar. What many schools do is stock up at the beginning of the year. Your child may be required to give 24 pencils that are thrown into a kitty on the classroom. Then, your child and every other kid in the class can have a pencil when they need it. However, if you don’t feel like providing other kids with school supplies, then buy what is required for YOUR child and keep extras at home. If you are brave enough you can send a note to the teacher. Additionally, getting 250 rolls of paper towels on the first day of school can cause storage issues for the teacher. If you want to provide supplies – but need to do it in installments, tell the teacher you will provide some in just a few months to replenish supplies.
Additionally, when you buy new back to school supplies for you child, make sure that you mark every little thing with a name in black Sharpie marker. Sign the blade of the scissors, the boxes of crayons, the art boxes, folders, and spiral notebooks. This way, even if things are thrown into a pile – you are certain your child will get the stuff that you bought. It can be upsetting to purchase special supplies for your kid only to find that they were handed out anonymously. By the same token, when you buy back to school supplies – don’t go overboard and purchase exactly what is requested. Otherwise, you will be find that the items are sent home and it can cause undo attention on your child during school. This is definitely not the way to get in good with your child’s teacher. They want as little distraction as possible and the light up, glow in the dark binder will definitely put a damper on movie day!
Back to school supplies don’t have to be expensive. If you purchase from dollar stores or during the back to school sales you can purchase common things at deep discounts. Also, your child may want a new, fashionable backpack every year but if they have one that works just fine- don’t bother. At some point, the Kavu brand backpack is going to be thrown in the corner of a classroom with a leaking marker staining the side. Same goes for a lunchbox. As time goes on through out the year, you can replace these items when they really need it and will find you shell out less. If you are a single parent or suffering financially, you will also be able to find assistance from agencies at your local library that can help. Also, if what you can buy is limited – be forthright with the teacher and find out which supplies are most important. Most parents become completely exasperated by the fact that almost half of what is required is NEVER used.
Another idea is to wait until school actually starts to get your child their school supplies. You are probably thinking sending your child to school with nothing is absurd. But, it is very common for generic lists to be generated on school websites and then when your child gets to school – the individual teachers have requested completely different items. If you wait, your child will probably come home with a more clearly defined list of what exactly they need from their homeroom teacher. Its fine to go ahead with the obvious items like pencils, paper and in today’s world a flash drive; but holding off on some of the other things might be wise.
One thing to remember is that back to school supplies are like providing a painter with a blank canvas and new brushes. No matter happened last year or what is to come – with the new things comes the feeling of a new beginning. There are probably many things that make your child apprehensive about school – from nervousness making friends to who their teacher will be. But school supplied – they represent fun and possibility. What all the new folders will hold and the shrinking of tall pencils prove is that your child is learning and that their educational process is learned in more ways than just what they bring to school on their first day. The most important back to school supply is your child’s self-confidence.