The 6 Things You Really Need For Back to School

I am an elementary school teacher. I teach in schools that range from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Every year around this time, I get outraged by all of the commercials, flyers, store displays, and advertisements suggesting that parents need to spend hundreds of dollars to prepare their children to go back to school.

I think the schools should supply pretty much everything your child needs to be successful this school year.  That means; pencils, notebooks, loose-leaf paper, pencil crayons, crayons, markers, rulers, dictionaries, calculators, etc.

I don’t like to ask the parents of my students for any money. I don’t want to give them a list of things they should buy. Yet some schools do just that.

Apparently, it is now common for Canadian families to spend $300 per child on back to school expenses.

I think this is ridiculous.

Here is what a primary (Kindergarten to Grade 3) or junior (Grade 4 to 6) student really needs.

1) Backpack – there are things that need to be brought to and from school every day so a backpack is essential.

2) Lunch bag – you can save money with a reusable lunch bag as opposed to the old stand-by brown paper bag. Not only that, but you are teaching your child about conservation. That’s well worth the ten bucks.

3) Gym shoes – your child needs to have a pair of running shoes to wear inside of the school. These should be in addition to the brand new pair of everyday kick-around shoes. They should stay at the school for your child to change into every time he or she comes back in from being outside.

4) Pencil case – I provide these for my students but some teachers don’t. I find that my students lose pencils without them. The good news is that you can pick up a decent one from the dollar store.

5) New clothes – I know that new clothes don’t come cheap. But I think it is important for your child to have at least one new outfit for the school year. It doesn’t have to be brand new, just new to them. You can go to thrift stores and find some excellent clothes that look new for a fraction of the price. Having a new outfit gives your child some confidence about going back to school.

6) Winter clothes – Please dress your child for the weather. They will be going outside three times a day regardless of the weather. They should have a hat, a pair of gloves, some boots, and snow pants.

And that’s it. Or is it?

I don’t think a primary or junior student needs any electronic devices. They don’t need all the bright and shiny items that look cool in the store and might appeal to them. Back to school shouldn’t be a second Christmas gift-giving season.

Many people will try to sell you things your child really doesn’t need. Get your kid what he or she needs, but don’t go overboard.

Last year’s rant – Stop The Back To School Madness

What are your thoughts on Back to School? 

Please leave a comment below. 

I’d love to hear from you. 

2 responses to “The 6 Things You Really Need For Back to School”

  1. Hi Chase .. I think I remember your last year's rant! Just the basics .. enough is enough. The trouble with kids – they growssss and growsss .. so new clothes and shoes are almost always needed during those growth spurts.

    We need to teach them budgeting and the fact that we can recycle and use every day items .. simplicity and put the money saved towards their future ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    The problem is too many parents and teachers assume the kids will come with markers, pencils, boxes of tissue, and all the basic stuff that I believe the school should supply.

    Back to school has turned into a huge, commercial enterprise, and I don't like it one bit.

    I'm glad there are people out there, like you, who agree with me.