It’s that time of year again – School Supply Shopping Time! It’s also the time of year we start to see a lot of posts on social media from teachers, advocating for parents to buy things on their lists of school supplies, and from parents, complaining about having to buy things from the lists of school supplies. It makes me long for the days when I was a child, where social media and such lists did not exist.
When I was a kid, I would use my pencils until they were sharpened down to the metal. I wrote in notebooks until they were full. I used an eraser until it was gone. We didn’t know what we needed for school until the first day, and everyone would go out that night to the store to get a couple of folders, notebooks, and a pack of pencils. It was a simpler time.
In any case, this post lies somewhere in the middle, between the long supply lists and the outraged parents. My children do receive lists for school supplies, but their teachers make sure to let us know that purchasing things from those lists, while appreciated, is completely voluntary, which I appreciate.
I know that there are two sides to every story. I understand that teachers shell out a lot of their own money for supplies throughout the school year for our children, especially for those kids whose parents truly can’t afford to buy new school supplies.
I also understand that looking at a school supply list as a parent can be daunting, and even frustrating, like when you go out and buy the bulk of things on the list and much of it gets sent home on the first day of school because the teacher had already purchased those things for all the students. (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to!)
That may not be the case for everyone, but for me, I’ve learned from my experience. And that’s why, this year, I’m buying almost no school supplies for my kids. Now, before you get all up in arms, I’m not saying I’m not sending my kids into the school year without any supplies. I’m simply not buying them.
I don’t know about anyone else, but on the last day of school, my kids come home with about four times as many school supplies as I sent them in with on the first day. Do school supplies somehow mate and reproduce in those little desks? One would think that would be impossible, yet here we are.
So at the end of June, all of those half-sharpened pencils, barely used erasers, and notebooks in which only the first 15 pages are used, go into a drawer, lying in wait to reemerge the first week of September to fulfill their destiny! Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but seriously!
I do end up buying school supplies for my kids. I just don’t buy everything on the list, especially when they have perfectly good, albeit slightly used, supplies at home. My kids don’t need brand new Ticonderoga pencils (which until last year I thought were simply called “No. 2 pencils”), or shiny new composition notebooks (I can just rip out those used 15 pages), or unused glue sticks (if they’re still sticky, they’re good). They will be going to school this year equipped (for the most part) with all of the leftover supplies they came home with last year, and they’ll be just fine.
Of course, I still made a trip to Staples to pick up a few items, because they have awesome prices this time of year, and I’m a sucker for cheap office supplies! I went into Staples the other day and spent a whopping $8.97 on some pencils (because I have to admit, the ones we have won’t last too long), markers, glue sticks, and pencil top erasers (to donate to the classrooms), and some white glue & a couple of notebooks (which weren’t even for school; I just needed some glue and notebooks!)
This is in stark contrast to a post I recently read from a woman complaining about her kids’ school supply lists, claiming that she had to spend $350… on each kid! Now, she’s either grossly exaggerating to make a point, the teachers in her school district are on crack, or she’s not back-to-school shopping correctly. Spiral notebooks at Staples are .25 cents, for crying out loud! If I spent $700 on school supplies between my two kids, I could just open up my own office supply store!
As annoying as buying school supplies can be (especially when you get back-to-school emails from office supply stores literally the day after your kids get out of school), it’s really not so bad.
You don’t even have to leave your house to get them! You can click on a link in a blog post that will take you directly to the Staples website, buy what you need, and have it delivered right to your door!*
If you save what you can from year to year, and utilize the back-to-school sales, it doesn’t amount to all that much. In the meantime, I try to remember that there are parents out there who really can’t afford to buy these things for their kids, and I make it a point to show my appreciation for the teachers by simply sending in a few glue sticks and some tissue boxes every now and then.
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of the links in this post, you’ll still pay the same price, but I’ll get a small commission. I only recommend products I have personally had a great experience with.