School Supplies Are Just the Beginning: Seven Tips for Back-to-School Week

Hear from a teacher what parents should know about back-to-school week.


Earlier this month, —and the potential nightmare that shopping trip can be.

My daughter is 1. Her school supplies are food, so I've got that supply (mostly) covered.

But my sister is a teacher in the Robbinsdale School District—and parent to two almost-teenage boys. ("We had an $800 grocery bill in one month this summer," she said last week. With a straight face.)

As we began talking about school supplies, I learned a few things about the first day of school from one teacher out there for you.

Something to think about beyond that first-day scramble—which arrives for many of you next week.

1. Make sure your kids' lunch money accounts are filled, as much as you can. (Yes, old people: the days of bringing lunch money to school are gone. Students now have electronic debit accounts.) 

Point being, apparently it's ridiculously humiliating to be called out by the lunch lady—(yes, old people, they still have those)—when the well is dry. Most children cannot be trusted with this task. Feed the children.

2. An oldie but a goodie: If you're dropping your child off to school, do NOT humiliate them with affection in front of their friends. For real. It will leave mental scars and anguish.

3. Don't linger. This is a follow up for all you first-time parents. First day of school is not the day to introduce yourself beyond "hello" to the new teacher.

Chat later. If you think you're overwhelmed, remember that there are at least 30 other offspring just like yours preparing to dismantle that teacher's day. Visit about your child's maladies some other time.

4. Backpacks are essential. Sis tells me you can get them for as low as the $15 range at Target or Walmart, and that these are must-must haves every year for the elementary kids.

And don't break the bank on something fancy, she adds: That's an invitation for thievery.

5. Label EVERYTHING. Speaking of backpacks and thievery: It's not a guarantee against theft, but certainly just as much a necessity for the young forgetful mind. (Not your child's of course; the child next to him or her).

6. Don't forget about the "Offices"OfficeMax and The Office Depot. Speaking of Walmart and Target: As you put together your shopping lists (which are often on the school websites), these big stores won't necessarily have the same stock that they did six weeks ago. But you may be able to score just as good a deal online or at one of the Office superstores—and those stores often come with purchase rewards.

7. Your children's cell phones are not welcome in school. (And yes, believe it, this needs to be told to many parents). District policies vary, but don't believe your child when they tell you cell phones are OK at their school. Most schools outright ban even the sight of them—for myriad reasons beyond just the annoyance factor—and penalties can range from confiscation to student suspension.

The last thing you want to spend your Wednesday afternoon doing is bail-bonding your son's or daughter's gadget out of hawk.

Not the instant msg you want to receive.

Mama V. August 23, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Teachers always appreciate extra boxes of tissues. There comes a point every year, around cold season, when the classroom and supply closet runs out of tissue. It's OK to have a child sniff if they need to, but bloody noses are a real problem when there is no tissue to grab quickly. I also keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer next to the tissue box.
Shakopee Mom August 23, 2012 at 03:19 PM
As the kids get older students, junior high and high school...the items such as tissues and hand sanitizer and crayons drop off the list and are replaced with more expensive items such as graphing calculators, parking passes, activity fees and the items to go along with those activities, band instruments, etc.
Shakopee Mom August 23, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Small pet peeve about the cell phones....when my kids got older and stayed after school or participated in sports or band, the kids were often left at school or dropped back at school and the office is closed and there are no pay phones. The kids aren't supposed to bring cells to school but leaving them in the locker (which is suggested if they must bring them) isn't a great option because of theft. The under 16 year olds can't drive and sometime the kids are left at school earlier than the planned pickup time. IMHO there needs to be a bit of leeway for students in after school activities. But the student cannot use them during classes.
camey August 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I disagree about cheap backpacks. Get your child a GOOD backpack! As a kindergarten teacher I have had many backpack zippers break or rip before the end of September!


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