Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to School Supplies

As a Mom sending my first child off to elementary school for the first time, I was surprised to learn that I was expected to provide a rather lengthy list of school supplies from a list provided by the school.  Other Moms told me that this is the way it is done these days.  The schools no longer provide basic supplies for the classroom, so parents are asked and expected to shop for these items.  The intent is to make sure all students have the supplies they need, regardless of their families financial situation.  And like uniforms, it takes the emphasis off the design and brand of the item.  No need for a fancy “Traper Keeper” when a simple pocket folder works just as well.

Our school provided the list on a flyer in our school registration materials.  It contained lists of different items for each grade. I've heard that teachers get to provide input on what should be included on the list for each grade.  It was understood that the supplies we provided are managed by the teacher to distribute to the students as needed.  This makes sense especially with younger students. 

The supplies from the list that I purchased for my daughter’s Kindergarten year filled two large shopping totes.  They included expected items such as crayons, pencil and scissors.  But it also included any items I wasn't expecting such as paper towels, paper plates, and plastic zipper bags.  I recall that it cost me quite a bit to purchase everything.  I recall that it was nearly $80. Some items specified a certain brand of item while others didn't.  I was unsure if it was okay to substitute a store brand.  I couldn't find some items in the size or quantity indicated, such as a 3 boxes of 16 color crayons.  I could only find boxes with 24 colors.  Would that be okay?

We were on vacation during the back to school orientation night where you could stop by to meet the teacher and drop off school supplies.  We instead took ours on the first day of school.  The shopping totes I used to carry the items in were sent home in my daughter’s book bag.  So I never heard if the substitutions were okay.

This year’s list for first grade was much shorter and not as expensive.  I got my supplies in July as soon as they hit the shelves.  The week prior to school, we got a note from the classroom Mom who had spoken to the teacher.  We were advised to label certain items because our first graders would be responsible for some of their own supplies this year.  They would be expected to keep them in a pencil box in their desks.  Since I had already purchased our supplies, everything I had purchased was basic.  No cute character on the folder or pencil box.  My daughter seemed very happy with the simple clear pencil box that would now be hers, but I wondered if some of the other kids would have some supplies that reflected their personalities or interests. 

So, since we have all just been through the experience of purchasing school supplies from the school’s list, what do you think?
  •  Do you sometimes substitute a similar item because you can’t find the specific item requested?
  • Do you buy some store brand items?  Even when a certain brand is specified?
  •  How does this process change as kids get order and take on more responsibilities for their own things?
  •  Do you think the school is asking for too much or that the amount of supplies requested, and the cost to us, is excessive?
(Photo used with permission from Microsoft Press: Credit)

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