C'mon, admit it -- you're excited to be getting your kids ready for the new school year. They may be grumbling, but not you. It's been almost three months since the end of last semester and the kids are getting restless. "I'm bored," they complain, "there's nothing to do." Well, yes there is! It's time to go shopping for back to school supplies. Here are a few pointers:
- Decide on a budget before you walk out the door, and discuss it with your child. Try to allow him or her to choose most of their own items, but if finances are limited, explain that if they pick mostly basics, there might be enough money to get a few special things, like a desired lunch box or character backpack. Children often will look forward to showing cooler supplies to their classmates.
Be sure to take note of supplies already in your possession from previous shopping excursions -- you can save money by avoiding unnecessary duplication. Keep in mind, however, that while some school items like rulers and calculators have long lives, other items like notebooks and binders often fall apart after a year's use.
- Make a list. Check with your child's school since many teachers offer a list of items that will be needed in their classroom. If so, you are in luck. Simply check them off the list as you add them to your shopping cart and you will soon be on your way. If you have to improvise, here are a few basic suggestions:
- Notebook paper, wide-ruled for elementary school children and college-ruled for those in junior high or high school. Stick with plain white -- many teachers do not allow the use of colored paper since it causes them eye-strain when they are reading numerous assignments.
- Pens and pencils are a must. Pencils should be #2, and don't forget to get a pencil sharpener to keep at home. Buy pens in basic colors like black or blue instead of trendy, but hard to read colors. It's a good idea to purchase a pencil box for younger children or a binder-friendly zipper bag to hold writing utensils for the older students.
- Folders come in a variety of types. The plain ones are cheaper, but the character and designed folders are a lot more fun!
- At least one three-ring binder will help your child to stay organized. You might want to consider buying a separate one for each subject.
- Crayons, markers and colored pencils are usually needed. If the budget allows, you may want to add water paints and tempera paints.
- Glue or glue sticks are usually required by elementary grade students. Be sure to get the washable kind.
- A ruler, compass, protractor and basic calculator will likely be required. May as well get them now while everything is on sale.
- If your child will be packing his lunch, decide whether you'll want a supply of paper lunch bags or a reusable lunch tote. Many totes have insulated sections to keep foods at safe temperatures.
- Backpacks or book-bags are handy for your child. Check with your child's school about backpack requirements -- for security reasons, some schools are requesting that bags be clear.
- Boxes or pocket-pouches of facial tissue are commonly requested by teachers, especially in the elementary grades.
- Buy extra. Back-to-school sales offer considerable discounts, so stock up now for the entire school year. Purchase extra notebook paper, pens, pencils, folders and crayons. In addition to wanting supplies on hand to restock for school, it's smart to have supplies for your child to use as she completes homework projects. You may want to purchase some construction paper and poster board, as well as a dictionary, thesaurus and calculator for use at home.