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Back-to-School Lists: Be Prepared with Basic Back-to-School Supplies

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Get ready for back-to-school time

Its that time of year again.  Summer is quickly coming to an end, August is halfway over, September is right around the corner, the pools are posting "closing" signs, and we all know what this means!  It's back-to-school time.  The big stores have transformed their outdoor patio and garden departments to the dreaded "Back-to-School Supplies" department.  The task of shopping for school supplies doesn't have to be that daunting, nor does it have to be a negative experience.  Besides, despite all the groaning you may hear from your beloved back-to-schooler, he is probably secretly excited to get back to school to see all of his friends and meet his new teachers.  The act of buying new school supplies just might set the stage for a great school year. 

Following are some tips to help you know what to buy and save a few dimes while shopping.

1.  Supply Lists.  Before you go out and drop $100 on school supplies, check with your child's new teacher to see if he or she has developed a supply list for you.  Most school administrators and principals require their teachers to create a cost-effective list with a set budget not to exceed $20, $30 or $40.  Teachers know exactly what and how much your child needs during the school year.  If you are not sure if a list exists, you can call the school secretary to see if she has a copy, you can check your school's website, and sometimes big office supply stores keep your teacher's list on file so check there, as well.

2.  Create a list.  If your child's teacher has not created a supply list, then you get to do it!  It's important to do this before you head out to the store.  A list helps you focus on what is essential and will especially help you stay within a budget.  Following are some basic items you might want to consider purchasing. 

3.  Folders.  Most teachers encourage children to keep assignments and homework organized in a specific subject folder.  Choose at least 6 different colored two-pocket folders for each subject.  Some pocket folders have 3 holes already punched in them and this is preferrable because your child can then keep them inside of a 3-ring binder.  Avoid the pocket folders that have the 3-prong inserts.  These are mostly useful for presenting a report, not for everyday use.

4.  Spiral Notebooks.  You should buy 6 spiral notebooks that color-coordinate with the two-pocket "subject" folders.  These should also have the 3 holes already punched in them.

5. 3-Ring Binder.  Find a 1.5 inch 3-ring binder.  Your child can keep all subject folders, loose leaf paper, spiral notebooks, and a zipper pouch for pencils inside of the binder.  Most binders have a plastic cover.  Encourage your child to create a personalized cover on the computer using clip art.  This can be printed on standard white paper and inserted inside of the front plastic cover of the binder.

6.  #2 pencils.  Buy at least two packs of quality #2 pencils.  Mechanical pencils are sometimes cumbersome to refill, especially when your child is in the middle of taking notes or working on an assignment.  It's also important to know that state and national standardized assessment tests still require students to use a #2 pencil for grading purposes.

7. Pens.  Purchase a box of basic black pens and a box of basic red pens.  Resist the urge to buy the fancy, more costly pens.  They are not necessary.  Simple ball point pens last longer and get the job done.  Red pens help your child edit and self-evaluate his or her own work.

8.  Crayons.  It never hurts to have a set of 16 crayons on hand.  Even if your child is in the upper grades, he or she may very well be assigned a project that requires some illustrations. 

9.  Markers.  Like crayons, a set of 8 basic markers are useful for creating posters and illustrations that are often part of a research project.

10. Paper.  3 packages of loose-leaf paper.  If your child is in the elementary grades you should purchase wide-rule paper.  If your child is in middle or high school then you will want to purchase college-ruled paper.

11.  Scissors.  If your child is in grades one through three you should purchase small, blunt-end scissors.  Purchase pointed scissors for the upper elementary grades.  Keep in mind the size of your child's hand when purchasing scissors.  A small pair of scissors is more practical for elementary students while inexpensive adult-sized scissors are better for middle school and high school students.

12.  Glue.  Buy glue sticks!  Glue sticks work great and are not messy.  Most teachers and students prefer a glue stick over a bottle of messy white glue that takes forever to dry.

13. Eraser.  Purchase a simple pink eraser.  Having a separate eraser on hand will prolong the supply of pencils.  It will prevent your child from grabbing a brand new pencil just to use its eraser.

14.  Zipper Pouch.  This should be a sturdy pouch with three holes that can be kept inside of the binder.  It should be big enough to hold pencils, pens, scissors, and an eraser.

15.  Supply Box.  Buy a small plastic supply box to keep crayons, markers, and extra supplies that will not be held inside of the zipper pouch.

These are the basic supplies your child will need to return to school.  Keep in mind that it is not necessary to purchase your child's entire year-long supply of pencils, pens and paper. Buy just what is needed for the first quarter of school and check in with your child throughout the school year to see which items need to be replenished.

Your child's teacher may send home a supply list after school starts asking for additional items that may be in his specfic classroom.  These items may include a paint shirt, Play Doh, facial tissues, party money, etc.  If your child's teacher requests these itmes, be sure to send them to school as soon as possible.  Resist the urge to buy extra items before school starts.  Wait until your child's teacher has requested them because they may not be necessary and most teachers do not have the storage space in the classroom to warehouse additional supplies.  Good luck and welcome back to school!


Mark Cruz
Posted on Mar 21, 2012
Posted on Aug 21, 2009

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