Back to school is my favorite time of year! When I was a kindergarten teacher, I loved setting up my classroom in anticipation of an eager new group of students. Now that I’m the mommy of a rising first grader, it’s so fun getting her ready for the big day!
One of the most significant ways we prepare is by gathering supplies and materials. On top of being a “teacher mom,” I am a minimalist and try to remain mindful with all of my purchases. The supplies you need will vary by school and grade, but here’s a little insight that will help you shop smart and plan for a great year.
Tips on Shopping For School Supplies
First, Shop Your Home
I know it’s tempting to raid the back-to-school bins for what’s shiny and new, but there’s a good chance you have a lot of supplies left from previous school years or activities you’ve done at home. We were able to instantly cross scissors, glue sticks, and pencils off our shopping list because we have all of that leftover from kindergarten. Before running to the store, take inventory of what you’ve already got so you only have to spend money on what you need.
And if you just have to buy new things, I’ll talk about donations in a second!
If You Need Help, Just Ask
The biggest shock I faced as a teacher is that schools do not provide all of the supplies that teachers and students need. Actually, aside from curriculum and workbooks, my school provided almost nothing. That leaves the cost of school supplies to fall either on the teachers or each individual family.
Every family is working with a different budget and sometimes the cost of school supplies can add up quickly, especially when you have multiple kids. If you experience any difficulty purchasing your child’s school supplies, reach out to your school as soon as possible. Ask if they’ll be offering any or if they know of community groups, churches, or charities that are. There are often organizations that want to support local students, they just need to find each other.
Each year that I taught, over half of my students would show up on the first day without any supplies or explanations. I eventually started buying all of my students’ supplies with my own money because it was faster than waiting for responses to notes and emails. Your child’s teacher wants every student to be successful and communicating your needs makes it so much easier for them to help!
Donate If You Can
You wouldn’t believe how much teachers invest in their classrooms out of their own pockets because that’s sometimes their only option. If you’re in a position to purchase extra supplies to donate to your child’s classroom, that will help tremendously. A large group of kids goes through loads of supplies over ten months and your donations will be appreciated any time of year. If you can donate supplies (or even gift cards), it’s always helpful to have additional contributions that benefit all students in a class.
All Supplies Are Not Created Equal
During the course of a school year, supplies have to withstand tons of use, so you want the best quality. If your teacher hasn’t recommended their favorite brands, here are some that I like for the most common supplies:
- Crayola crayons and markers
- Ticonderoga pencils
- Elmers glue sticks
- Fiskars scissors
- Expo dry erase markers
- Pink Pearl erasers
In some cases, these items may be more expensive than the generic options, but that’s because they’ll work better and last longer. You won’t have to spend money replacing them throughout the year, which ultimately is more cost-effective. A lot of stores have the best deals on high-quality school supplies in August, so this is the perfect time to stock up!
Label All The Things
As you get your little one ready for school, don’t forget to label their personal belongings. If you ever pass by a school’s lost and found, you’ll probably see that it’s overflowing with items that kids left behind. Don’t even get me started on the pencils and glue sticks that constantly sprinkle a classroom floor. You can grab a sharpie or durable labels, just make sure your kid’s name is on everything they bring to school so that they can keep track of it.
We all want our children to feel successful in school and that’s starts with being prepared. Whether that means asking for assistance or taking a trip to the store, make sure they’re ready to be the best version of themselves this school year!
What tips would you add to this list?