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What Parents should know about buying school supplies & sending kids to school

Updated on July 31, 2012

Buying School Supplies

Every year parents go out their way to make sure their kids are ready for school. Stores lure parents into their doors with sales and the latest fads. Kids pressure their parents with must haves and before parents know it they are spending more than they would like. While it can be exciting for kids to walk into the schoolhouse in new outfits, with new backpacks and the cutest assesscories, parents should be aware that children are often wasting hard earned money. As a teacher I can say first hand what it is like to see parents buy things that students waste, or loose.

What to focus on?

Parents should focus on the basics. When we send our children to school we should think of it as their first opportunity to work or to show what talents they possess. Parents should instill the right mentality in their children first. This is easier said than done. Make priorities when it comes to buying supplies. Look in the closet, what do they have already that you can add to. What is your budget that you are working with? When students come to my class I notice so much waste. They start off with a pencil box full of pencils that quickly diminishes. When they have no more basics like pencils or erasers they expect their teacher to hand them a free pencil. Things cost, even the least expensive tool can be expensive when you constantly need it. As a teacher I suggest that parents should

1) Buy in bulk, when there is a sale allot materials to your child and make them responsible. Parents would be surprised how much money is wasted buying materials that your kids waste. Depending on your child's teacher oftentimes teachers take all the supplies and give them out as needed. This works well, however, there are times when some parents feel like they are buying for others besides their kid. To keep down conflict parents can help their child by talking to them about how important their education is and how valuing their tools will aid in doing a great job. When they are running low on something they can go to the supply container at home and get just what they need.

2) Email or go and meet your child's teacher as soon as you can. As a teacher, I appreciate when parents go out their way to meet me and communicate their concerns, this means I will have a valuable partnership when it comes to the child's well being and success. Ask the teacher what supplies are really important for the year. Sometimes school supply list that are available in the store or on school websites are outdated or misguiding. As a fourth grade teacher, there are supplies that I think are important that the next fourth grade teacher might have a varying point of view about. Depending on classroom structure and the subject being taught, one classroom might benefit from one tool more than the next. If you have elementary kids you especially want to talk to the teacher. Kids constantly need tissue in class. They need pencils constantly, especially if they right hard. Some teachers prefer binders with loose leaf paper for journals others prefer that students use composition books to keep kids from loosing their work. Students run out of eraser on the end of their pencils, it is nice when they have a large one with their name on it. Also to prevent pencil sharpening in the middle of class it is nice if they have a manual pencil sharpener. Some teachers take all the pencils and have them sharpened before class that way kids can change them out when they are dull. Backpacks are important, to help students keep track of what they need to bring back and forth from school. If you do not have money to get supplies tell your kids teacher, we are obligated to lead you to the school's support system for students who need assistance.

3) Give your kids an allowance, if they want popular things, or trendy bags, or what ever their peers are crazy about, make them earn it. Give your kids an award system for taking care of what you buy them and for working hard in school. If they make good grades and you are sure that they did their best then give them a nice award. This reinforces that you are proud of their effort and that they earned their extra something. Kids appreciate school and all that comes with it when parents along with teachers make them responsible for their own learning.

4) Apparel: Many school districts have dress codes. Your kids should follow them. We have to follow dress codes at the best jobs. People are respected when they look respectable, so even if it is not cool it is right to teach your child to present themselves professional. Find out what the dress code is for your child's school by looking at the school's website. Find a quality store that has your child's size. You may go online to find deals. Sometimes schools have a school store that sells uniforms. If you can not afford a week's supply of uniforms at least get two to three to start out. Be clear with your child about your expectations about taking good care of their uniforms. Kids need to understand that it is not about having a lot but it is rather about taking care of what you have.

5) Do at least one special something for your child, it does not have to be expensive or really big. You want your child to know you care and that you appreciate when they work hard to be great kids. Have a talk with your kids about what you expect of them the new school year. Make a list of their wants, concerns, and needs. Make a contract that both of you will sign stating what you both will do to make sure school will be a great experience.


  • a day trip before school
  • a picnic
  • a family barbq
  • If parents are divorced try to come together for the kids and talk together about what you expect.
  • an allowance for a small shopping spree


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