AHHHH! It’s August! When did this happen? And where did summer go?
In reality, stores have been prepping for “back-to-school” since almost the moment that schools let out in June. Seriously, Target, give us a little bit of a break before you restock the dollar section with classroom supplies! I’m just not ready yet.
But seriously, it’s time (I guess) to acknowledge to the inevitable end of summer. Now some of you are probably like this:
They’re a little excited to send the kids back, ya think? And you can be too! Just follow a few streamlining BTS (that’s back-to-school) shopping tips!
1. Read the list from school
No, seriously. This is the FIRST thing you should do as soon as it is published or sent home or whatever.
Many teachers, from years of experience, are picky about brands, colors, and sizes of things.
I prefer to have ONLY Ticonderoga pre-sharpened pencils in my classroom. Why? Because then I’m not caught sharpening 1,000,000,000 pencils every single day for the whole school year. For this same reason, I don’t let children touch the electric pencil sharpener. Because they break things.
I also don’t do those cute pencil topper erasers. They break without fail. I only like the old-fashioned pink erasers. Those things get stuff gone!
So check on brands, sizes, and types BEFORE you go to the store. You are going to hate yourself when Junior comes home in tears because he can’t use the fancy superhero folders you bought instead of the plain colored ones.
2. Check your current stash
I’m way guilty on this one, too. I have so many school supplies collected over many years and many military moves. I have pencils and whiteboard markers in places I don’t even know about yet.
So, check out what you already have or what your kid brought home from school last year. Chances are that you might have a few pencils, markers, crayons, and plain colored folders available.
3. Email the teacher
Here is a dirty little secret: teachers are hoarders of school supplies.
It’s true. In my last classroom, I had multiple pump bottles of hand sanitizer, untouched, from the previous school year. I also had several individual packs of crayons, a few notebooks, about a dozen colored folders, and a spare box or so of pre-sharpened Ticonderogas ready to go.
Before you, and every other family, show up with the giant bottle of sanitizer, double-check with the teacher. Often grade levels and schools publish the same list year after year, but each classroom goes through supplies differently. I whip through construction paper and baby wipes. My neighbor ran out of pencils at Christmas. It just depends!
This also gives you a chance to make sure about brands of those general classroom supplies. Some baby wipes are better than other!
4. Make a plan
With your school/teacher supplied list of supplies in hand, cross off anything that you have found around your house (see number 2) or write down the quantity you actually need.
For example: 4 folders (blue/red/green/other) might become 2 folders (red/green) because you found a blue folder plus another folder with any design on it.
Next, check the store flyers for sales. My best bets are: Target, Office Max, Office Depot, and (sometimes) Walmart. Target is generally the best for selection, but the two Office stores offer a 20% military discount!
5. Prep the kids
“No, you don’t need a new backpack, lunchbox, shoes, and entire closet full of clothes!”
For real though, BTS can turn into a free for all if you aren’t careful!
Set your hard limits for things that you will not be purchasing for your children before you even leave the house. You could even designate one trip as just stuff from the supply list and another as clothes and accessories.
Figure out what things from last year and the summer are still good, what is passable, and what needs to be replaced. And be upfront with them about it. Many of their friends will roll up on day 1 fully outfitted in stuff that is brand spanking new. And cost a fortune.
You’re ready to shop!
If you are in doubt, just stick to the teacher’s list. As long as you have (almost) everything on that piece of paper ready for day 1, you should be good to go!
And if you want an even faster way to get your kid’s stuff, check out packages from the school. Many schools offer pre-packed boxes of teacher selected school supplies to be delivered to your home or classroom, ready to be unpacked on day 1.
How do you get ready to back-to-school shop?