School Supplies - The down and dirty on what you really need

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World. This post originally appeared here.


When I think of back to school, I think of pretty colours of magic markers and pencil crayons and notebooks. As a child, I used to love browsing through all of the new and colourful supplies, carefully choosing the treasures I would take on my learning journey. They signalled new beginnings and adventures in paper! Now, shopping for supplies with my son, I still get excited thinking about the adventures waiting for him. School supplies are the tools your children are using on their learning journey to do their job of learning more effectively and joyfully.

Before you even think about going shopping, make sure your children understand the importance of taking care of their school supplies: keeping their materials in their desk so they don’t get mixed up in a fray, putting what belongs in the pencil case back in so they will find it easily, and making sure their pencils or crayons aren’t left on the floor where they are sure to be swept away at the end of the day. If they don’t keep track of their stuff, they won’t have the tools they need the next day. This will slow them down, distract and detract from their learning.

When getting school supplies, your first step starts with what you already have because buying a lot of new school supplies can get costly especially if you have more than one child. Before going out to get new stuff, see what you can reuse and what you already have. Do you really need a new backpack, pencil case and lunch box every year or is the one from last year still in good condition? Do you need a new ruler, geometry set or calculator every year or can you use the one you’ve already got?

When you are shopping, use the list specific to your children’s classes from their schools rather than the random store list in order to ensure that you are getting what is really needed rather than what the stores want you to purchase. If you are trying to keep costs down, stick to the list. Sometimes, teachers may make what sounds like a weird request to you, but they are usually well thought out. For example, if specific colours for folders are mentioned, it may be because the teacher is trying to keep organized and in a class of 30, doesn’t want anyone’s folders to get misplaced. If spiral notebooks are discouraged, it may be because they are bulkier and heavier to transport for marking and get caught in your clothes! Just saying. These specific requests are not generally random!

If you are in a position to do so, consider getting extras of some supplies. Every year, there are some kids whose parents can’t afford all of the supplies and every year there are supplies that run out in the middle of the year. Teachers spend a lot of their own personal money on all kinds of classroom supplies, so they always appreciate any contributions you can make. For example, an extra box of tissue never goes to waste in a classroom particularly during cold and flu season!

When getting school supplies together, reviewing the importance of taking care of their belongings with your children, being judicious of what you need and buy, and contributing to the classroom experience for all the children will show your children the value you place, not only on their supplies, but on their education, their classrooms and their teachers.

For more blogs on travel, parenting, health, or life-balance visit Antonia's website: and check out my Facebook Page: @youvegotthismom