Thursday, July 28, 2022

Well…we have to start talking about it…back to school. While I don’t have K-12 aged school children anymore, I hope to share some nuggets of wisdom from that stage of life. I also will talk about how I personally get ready for back to school.

Linking up here for Monthly Musings…

First of all, I want to give you permission to do you and your family the way that makes sense for you. Get rid of the “shoulds” that society throws at you. Ok?

And, please remember this:

First of all…a little background if you are new around here or if you just have low reading comprehension skills (just a little eduspeak joke! don’t get mad!)

I have twins who will be juniors in college this fall and I am entering my 29th year of teaching high school Spanish.

And, these are simply my opinions but I hope they help someone out there.

Please do not give teachers a first day of school present. It’s just not necessary. It also might make someone who doesn’t give a gift feel bad. I feel like this is a newish trend? Also, the teacher has so much going on, so many piles of things, so much to pass out, etc., that they may not have a place for it. Let’s just not do this.

Also, I am really turned off by the Amazon wish lists. Is this a sad state of education in our country that teachers are begging for supplies? Yes, it is. And, I’m afraid this will only perpetuate the problem. I just found out that each teacher in my district is getting a $250 Amazon gift card. How awesome is that? So, what is the solution for the teachers making Amazon wish lists? I don’t know. I know the intention of the influencers is only good, but do you see what I am saying?

Your attitude as a parent drives the attitude of your children. Learning should be and is fun! Schools do so much for your kids and society in general. People get in to education for the right reasons for the most part. Little pitchers have big ears; do not let your children hear you speak negatively about their teachers and their school.

Make school supply shopping a fun outing. If you aren’t into it, that’s ok. Ask a grandparent to start a tradition. Ask a childless aunt. If they are restricted at school with certain notebook colors, get a couple of fun things for homework. Create a homework station. What can you do to get your kids excited?

I am not a big fan of homework. Our kids spend 8 hours in school and if done right, they should be spending their after school time in nature and getting exercise. Homework starts so early these days and I feel like a lot of teachers think that more homework is better and proves their worth. My kids needed to play on the playground behind the school and have a snack before they could do any homework. Do what works for you. Maybe the next morning is better? Maybe after dinner is better? Again, get rid of the “shoulds”.

As soon as mine were old enough, they checked off the items on their own lists. We always had fun picking out supplies. I realize I was fortunate and had the money to not worry about these purchases.

Always go to any event the school has for you and your child. Those open houses, orientations, etc. are all so helpful in getting your child and you ready. It is even important at the high school level. Don’t you want to put a face with the name that you will hear about after school? I can’t believe the lack of attendance at the high school level.

I took myself back to school shopping this week. I just bought my favorite pens which were only slightly on sale. I love a pen that clicks. Homey don’t have time for lids, you know? I love the Sharpie S-Gel pen. I bought two notebooks for examples of my journal I do in my class and some looseleaf paper. My school has a supply closet and they are really good about stocking the things teachers need.

I order some stickers with my own money and I go to the Dollar Tree for some candy. I also like to buy band-aids that have funny things on them, lotion, and then my school provides Kleenex and hand sanitizer. When we have food days, the kids are asked to bring in one roll of paper towels, a pack of napkins, a trash bag, etc. so I have a good stock of stuff like that from last year. We aren’t allowed to give grades or points for buying things so this was just an “ask” and they are happy to do this.

My kids had uniforms from K-8 and we tried to buy hand me downs from the used uniform sale, from older twins (we had neighbors with twins about 3 years older!), and then from Target, Old Navy, or the uniform store in town. I loved uniforms! I heard a great tip – even if your school doesn’t have a uniform, you can make your own – polo shirts and shorts or whatever you like that fits the dress code. Love that!

Erica wants to share meals with me again so we will do the same thing we did last year. I plan to make 5 breakfasts on Sunday, too. I will do faux egg mcmuffins, breakfast burritos, breakfast casserole and sausage, or breakfast bowls. I will keep it really simple the first week and do the egg mcmuffins I think.

For lunches, I also will do a bit of prep on Sunday, but I plan to do more like Erica did and repeat whatever dinners Tom and I have for my lunch the next day.

And, for dinners, I plan to keep it really simple in August and rely on some freezer staples.

I always organized whatever current school supplies we had before shopping for new. By about 3rd grade, I thought, “How many pairs of tiny scissors will I buy?” that’s when I realized that many things can be recycled. Duh! I get that it’s nice to start the school year with new stuff and sometimes it’s ok.

Last year, I wrote a self-care syllabus for myself and I did pretty well with it!

I like to have a new dress to wear on the first day of school, but this year I hope I can be satisfied with a dress I already have. I have several to choose from this year.

I need a new teacher tote. Any suggestions? I have a couple of ideas.

It’s sad that I don’t have to do back to school for my kids anymore, but it’s also kind of a feeling of freedom after so many years of suppy shopping, paperwork to fill out (the worst!), etc.


18 thoughts on “Monthly Musings – Back to School Prep

  1. I love this post! I completely agree about homework, especially is grades K-8. It seems like there is plenty of time in the school day to get the work done. And you are brave to say that about the teacher wish lists, since they are so popular now. When I was teaching, we also had a supply closet for most things. If I wanted extra’s for my room, I bought them. I think a lot of teachers feel they need lots of unique/special items now to make their classroom complete. I guess I say more power to them if they can get others to pay for them, but also think learning can take place without them. But I’m definitely “old school” …ha ha! have a wonderful Wednesday!


  2. It’s so sad that even though this is Alec’s 3rd year of school I’ve only met one teacher– and that was at the last day assembly this past June. Our school has literally had no open houses/events/ orientations/ etc. because of all this Covid stuff. Even our parent/ teacher conferences have been online and each teacher gets 11 slots– total for all the students they see in each grade/ level/ subject. So I got to talk with his gym teacher Freshman year and that was it. I mean he loves it, he shares so much with me about what’s going on, he’s had straight A’s the entire time and I don’t need to meet the teachers but I sure would like to! I don’t feel at all welcome in the building (and for once that’s not just my insecurity as we actually got a note home from the state school system explaining that parents would not be allowed in the building). But I smile and make the best of it and am just so thankful that Alec is very adaptable and happy and loves school.


    1. That is so sad! I hope they invite/ include parents more next year. I honestly think Covid has been an excuse to not do some things. You know? 11 slots is not fair. We talk to anyone who wants to talk. I’m so glad he is happy!


  3. Over here we don’t have school uniforms and the schools supply the students with all materials up until high school. A great system according to me.
    As a teacher myself I’ve always been very careful with holding a positive approach to everything school related for my kids. It’s vital! I work in a small private school that the parents have chosen for their kids, so they better like it and stay positive! ;-D
    Self care is SO important! After having a parent calling me at 9:30 pm I deleted all my contact informations on the school web… Call me during work hours please!


    1. That surprises me because most in Europe do, I think. You do have a great system. Your attitude is contagious. Same – I have to have a stop time and can’t work all day and all evening or I won’t be ready to bring my best!


  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you on how the parents’ attitude fuels the students’ attitude. When our boys were in a brick and mortar school (we ended with homeschooling from 4-12th grade), we always supported the teacher. If we had any issue at all with the teacher, we didn’t speak of it in front of the boys. We did have issues here and there over the years, only one thing being major that we were very upset about, but even then- we just went to the principal and then into a meeting with both principal and teacher. It helped when I started working at their school- I knew more ins and outs and felt like more a part of their day.

    I don’t understand the Amazon wish list either…when my kids were youth, the teachers would come up with a “wish list” of things that they handed out at the parent- teacher meetings. It would be for extra things like colored copy paper, extra bottles of Clorox wipes, things like that. It sounds like the same concept, but I keep seeing them everywhere! I went and read your self care syllabus- that has some great suggestions to help yourself stay sane throughout the year! You’re an excellent writer and communicator.


    1. Totally! Our attitude is so important!
      I know – we did that, too. I feel like the Amazon wish list is for super extra things sometimes?
      Oh – you are so sweet. I am constantly trying to do better with my mental health. I am a type A, first born, you know?


    1. I have that one in my Amazon cart! I’m hung up on the “it isn’t very cute”. I have a couple of others I”m looking at, too. If I walk to school, I have a North Face backpack that I will use. I am seriously considering walking.
      Thank you so much – I was worried I was a little too opinionated!


  5. Your post didn’t show up in my WP feed, so I’m replying here! You have so many good tips. The first day will be here before we know it. $250?! that’s amazing. We get $30. When the kids were little, I always made a big deal about school supply shopping–made it fun, and we’d get back to school hair cuts and go to lunch all in the same day. We are headed out with our lists today! I always look forward to buying a new lesson planner and new pens….always makes me so happy.


    1. I pressed post yesterday without meaning to and I just let it stay. Thank you! $30 is laughable. I just know that throughout the year I will spend about $500 to do fun things. I just don’t worry about it anymore. I am a big pen snob. I love new pens. I made the mistake of Tom being with me and he judged my pen purchase.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have the back to school blues! One week from today is my first in-service day! Yikes! I’m trying to like August more now that my sons are no longer k-12 because it was a lot to balance when I was also gearing up for back to work! My younger son will be a senior in college this year. Here in FL, we can spend $250-300 depending on the year, and get reimbursed. It doesn’t allow candy or most electronics like wireless mouse/keyboard. No supplies are provided at school otherwise, so I use the money to buy copier paper. I have seen the Amazon wish lists, too, and I have very strong feelings. I think most teachers spend their own cash, and it has become the expectation/norm. I wish for one year teachers would not spend a cent of their own money just to show what that looks like. Not only are we poorly paid compared to other professions with similar education, but we are not even given the supplies needed to work. Teachers teach because of a passion, and I feel like they’re taken advantage of because of it. Yes to attending school open houses – I teach reading, lowest 25% in the school, and these parents are not very involved, unfortunately.


    1. I do, too! But, at the same time, I know that my body desperately needs routine again. I have really gotten loose this summer with alcohol and treats.
      Yes, I am really relieved to not have all of the k-12 stress and busyness, but I am a bit nostalgic sometimes, too. I don’t know how I did it all!
      We are provided copy paper and we even have a copy center that makes our copies once school gets going. It is such a time saver if you are organized like me and have your papers that need to be copied ready ahead of time.
      I just know that I will spend around $500 of my own money as things come up and I kinda stopped worrying about it.
      It’s such a joke. I was given nothing for my first job – not even a classroom. I had to dig up a rolling cart to use. I was so disillusioned and I am surprised I stuck with teaching.
      My colleague and I often say that about not spending anything but it would make my job harder and more sad!
      I am very fortunate that I teach highly motivated kids from the highest ability level at my school. I don’t think I have what it takes to teach kids that need more. It’s so hard.
      I hope that you will get a burst of energy but do take care of yourself because you need it and deserve it. Write your own self care syllabus for this year!


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