Back to School: What Your Kids Really Need to Bring (Besides Books and Brains)
August 10, 2016
It’s officially back-to-school season and as a teacher and a business owner, I am admittedly bummed. Even though I also teach during the summer months, the summer allows me a little extra Netflix time, a little more sleep, and a chance to catch up on…fixing my lesson plans and working on my business. This is one of the reasons I hate August; it’s the Sunday of the school year. But, I do appreciate some good humor associated with the back-to-school season, as demonstrated in Staples’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” commercial.
While a new school year is exciting and a little intimidating, one thing I can’t stand is the hype associated with the BUY BUY BUY mentality of back-to-school. After teaching for ten years, let me give you a list of things your kids will actually need to help them through the year. This list does not include notebooks, paper, folders, etc. because I assume you know that your kids need that to succeed; I’m going to talk about all of the peripherals to help you avoid buying into the hype.
Tissues. Please buy your kids tissues. If they’re little, send them with a box at a time, if they’re older, send them with more to store in their locker. Sometimes teachers don’t get a chance to run to the store to buy more tissues, and with 150 students a day, the box dwindles quickly. Don’t leave your kid stuck with a runny nose.
Extra pens and pencils. Seems obvious, but I have so many students using pencils that are barely more than a point and an eraser, or none at all, just buy them extras. Even if they’re irresponsible, just check their inventory once a week. Make life easier – get #2 mechanical pencils so they don’t have to worry about having a sharpener available.
Hand sanitizer is a must. Schools are laden with germs and sometimes students aren’t able to get to the bathroom to wash their hands often enough. Teaching them to keep their hands clean is the first step to avoiding back-to-school illness.
Deodorant. Yup, your kids need deodorant, and a lot of it. Teach them to keep it in their locker or in their school bag for easy access, especially after gym class. (I wouldn’t recommend this for little kids, but for kids starting to hit puberty and older.)
Baby wipes. These are especially useful for a quick wipe-down after gym class, or to clean up messes, or just wipe their hands.
Pack an extra change of clothes, including a sweater and undergarments. This is not something you necessarily need to run and buy, but a full set of extra clothes including underwear, socks, shoes, shirt, pants, and a sweater for random emergencies. They should keep this in their locker.
Multiple gym uniforms. Many kids, especially in high school, are pretty conscientious about the way they smell, but sometimes it’s not easy for them to maintain if they have required uniforms. Having multiples makes it easier for kids to bring home to get washed.
Following along the theme of scent, have them pack a roll-on with scent for them to use as a perfume. I recommend one with essential oils instead of fragrance because of all of the allergies, plus, you don’t want them spraying so many nasty aerosols with phthalates all over their bodies.
A quality umbrella. It’s awful if it starts pouring while they have to try and get home from school. Have them keep one umbrella home and one at school, just in case.
Energy-packed snacks. Most schools are acquiring a nut-free policy to ensure kids with allergies are safe, so consider other healthy options that are easy for kids to pack and grab when they’re really hungry. Take a look at protein when choosing your snacks; you want the choice to be full of quality protein to help keep their attention going.
First-aid kit. There are so many rules and regulations regarding what schools are allowed to do and give, sometimes it’s easier to just have a mini first-aid kit for your kids to self-treat. Of course, you know your kids, and this should only apply to students who are older and are cognizant of what they’re doing.
For young women, you want to make sure they have access to sanitary napkins to avoid any adolescent-ruining scenarios. There are some cute and discreet pouches available so young women don’t have to be obvious about what they’re carrying.
Extra batteries for any of their electronics, as well as an extra charger. Schools have different rules regarding cell phones, so you definitely want to check with your particular school’s administration, but a charger might be a good idea. Many kids also have to carry calculators, so extra batteries in their locker in case the calculator dies.
Locks for their locker. Check with your school first, as some schools require you purchase their locks so they can open it in case of emergency. (Make sure you have the password in case they lose it or forget.)
For easy shopping, I’ve compiled an Amazon List for you to just pick and choose most of the items I’ve mentioned.
Oh, and one more note, if your teacher sends home a list and asks for some extra stuff, go ahead and buy it, please. Believe it or not, teachers, on average, spend $500 of their own money every year on supplies. A great article by Monica Brown of Huffington Post highlights this point.