Tuesday, July 17, 2018
You may think it’s too early to talk about back to school, but my sister goes back at the end of July and I know many midwest and southern schools start back at the beginning of August. We start August 15 in my district.
I have a love/hate relationship with back to school time! The first time I see school supplies out in stores my heart just sinks because it is end of June or early July and I’m not nearly done “summering”. When I look at it in earnest toward the end of July I’m about ready to think about school again!
The love: Oh, the thought of new school supplies! I love new pens, pencils, markers, notebooks! I not only buy for my sons who are in high school, but I stock up on the cheap, cheap filler paper, notebooks, etc. for me at home and in my classroom as a high school teacher. If you don’t buy it during back to school time, you will pay at least 10 times more for the items sometimes – especially notebooks.
The hate: My beloved summer is over or almost over when it’s time to get ready for back to school. I love the freedom that comes with summer and how many full time working adults get an entire summer off? None! It is a true gift to get to recharge my batteries and remember who I am and not who “Mrs._____” is at school.
Here are the things I do or recommend that you do:
*I have been teaching high school for 24 years and have put my twin boys through 11 years of public schooling – these are my credentials! Ha!
The School Building:
Hopefully you have already found out about your school’s open house, registration, or meet the teacher day or night. Please try not to miss this and try not to schedule vacation for this time. This really helps kids (and you) feel so much more comfortable with their new school year. Now, I realize this gets tricky if you have multiple kids in multiple schools, but please make this a priority even if you have to divide and conquer with your spouse, an aunt, a grandparent, etc.
Summer Reading or Summer Homework:
Hopefully you have obtained any summer reading lists. If not, do that now. These are usually on a school website. I actually think it’s better to read closer to school starting so the student doesn’t forget the information.
Remember that your school administrators, counselors, and possibly other school personnel start getting ready in mid July. There should be someone answering phones if you have any questions. We’d rather you call and ask than to be unprepared.
When you obtain your school supply list, let your kid(s) see it and help you make a list of stores. They could even research the stores with the best prices. This time of the summer you are looking for ways to entertain them, right? Have them tell you what kind of budget they will need. You could also ask them to earn some of the money by doing special chores. Hey – I think kids need to know that back to school time in the U.S. has become big business. What is a need and what is a want? What still works from last year? I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought that my boys needed a new pair of scissors every year until about 3rd grade when I realized that we could just use the ones from last year! Duh!
I know some moms that also creat(ed) an at home homework station. If they could only use yellow pencils at school, the mom would get the fun pencils for home. Genius!
Please don’t call your kids’ teachers bad names because of the supply list. Do you know how much each teacher spends out of their own pocket each year? If a teacher asks for items, it’s because he/she wants to do the best job they can do with the optimum supplies. If you truly can’t afford the items, please tell the teacher and volunteer some time to help instead. Most teachers will totally understand and support you. If you complain and your kid hears, this sets a really bad tone for the year.
Ask a beloved grandparent, aunt, or uncle to do the shopping if you can’t. Many people love to do this and would love to be asked. I helped my friend’s kids last year and had a blast! Each kid got their own list, their own cart, and had money from the parents and we knocked that list out. Someone like me thinks that is fun!
Back to school shopping can be stressful. Go as early in the morning as you can and on a weekday if possible. If you are fighting crowds or if everything is picked over, you will truly be miserable.
I prefer to do my back to school shopping at Target. Sometimes I will need a couple of items from Office Depot, as well. Don’t forget that you can do your back to school shopping on Amazon with Prime, Walmart online, or another online shopping service. If your school offers a package of back to school supplies, by all means, buy it! Your time is worth money, too. I think this is genius!
High school age: The students don’t know what they need until day one of school oftentimes. Usually the teachers give them a few days to get those “3 inch binders”, “green notebook for lab work” type of things. I have my boys pick up several generic things to start with and I tell them we will get the specifics later.
Please do not miss the first day, week, two weeks of school. Do you know how often this happens? It happens a lot more than you would think for reasons that aren’t illness. We set our next school calendar over a year in advance. The kids that start off missing really never get caught up for that grading period or semester sometimes.
Clothing for School:
Before shopping for anything new – whether you wear uniforms or not, take an inventory of last year’s stuff. Remember there are only 5 days in each week and in our district we have many weeks that are less than 5 days now! So, you really could get by with 5 outfits. Check the school’s dress code and come up with some outfit ideas that parents and kids agree upon. Give your kid a budget and have them research clothing store sales.
My boys won’t wear shorts to school. They only want to wear jeans or athletic pants. When our AC is cranked in August and September it is really too cold for shorts in the building. Ask these type of questions. Do they need PE clothes? Is it easier to wear PE appropriate clothing every day? If kids at my school take chemistry, they must wear closed toed shoes. Look at schedules and ask these questions. High school kids get really picky about clothes and some are self conscious. I have some students who are most comfortable in a school logo sweatshirt. Maybe you should save your school budget for the school bookstore’s clothing items?
If your state has tax exempt shopping days, make sure you take advantage!
Back to School Expenses:
Start saving now. I’m posting this in mid-July because many schools go back earlier than ever. But, if you still have a month or so, you should plan for expenses. I will give you an example of my twin junior boys’ costs at a public school. If you are in a private school or have more than two kids like me, my heart goes out to you because it will be even more, I’m sure.
3 AP classes for one and 4 AP classes for the other at $90 each class = $630
General supply fees and locker fees = $150 for both
New tennis shoes for both (we purchased these already) = $150
New jeans and shirts for both = $200
Notebooks, pens, etc. = $60
Summer reading books = $30
New scientific calculators =$200
This is just an estimate but it totals $1420 for just two kids! My husband complains every year because he thinks our tax dollars should cover everything, but that’s just not how it works in our district.
What have I forgotten? What tips do you have? Are you ready?