Education · life

School Supply Lists

It’s back to school time. Which means it is time to hear people complain. Let the complaining begin, or should it?

You will start seeing/hearing/reading about people complaining about supply lists. I know both sides of these lists. And, while I understand the issues, I also understand why these list exist.

So… here!

Why do teachers send supply lists in the first place? Because school systems do not supply materials for classroom use. I’ve worked in schools where teachers get a $25 budget to buy resources for the classroom… do you know how far this goes for 18-22 children? Back to school time is the time that items are on sale. So while your child may not use 50 pencils in September, he/she will use/lose that many during the school year. Plus most classroom teachers have to share specific supplies with special area teachers (art, music, library, computer lab, pe … etc)

Why do teachers ask for specific brands? After teaching for many years you get to know classroom supplies. We realize that it is cheeper to buy store brand, but it won’t last as long. Crayola crayons color in true color and most other crayon colors are slightly off. Friskar scissors are the sharpest and do not break. I’ve had students with off brand scissors have the scissors break during the year. These kids are NOT gentle with their supplies. We do not get money from these brands, we are just trying to find the ones that will last the longest. Trust me it is worth a bit more investment now instead of having the teacher/your child ask you to replace the items later because they are broken, dried out or totally lost.

When teachers ask for specific color folders, notebooks or other items, they have a system in place that uses these colors to help your child get organized. They are not trying to make it so your daughter can’t have the super cute folder she wants. They want to be able to say take out your red writing folder. Or pull out your green science notebook. This helps speed the process of transitioning between subjects.

Think of this, your child’s teacher is having to store these items in the classroom for future use. But, as I stated most of the items teachers ask for on back to school lists are on sale at this time of the year. When grade level lists have to be created teachers spend a lot of time hashing over what to ask for and where to store the items until they will be used.

As a teacher, I often find it quite humorous that the parents who are the most forceful on everything being equal are the ones who often complain the most about having to buy a specific brand item. This isn’t about being equal, or trying to make parents spend too much money or any of the things you think. The teachers are attempting to figure out everything your child will need to be successful. If you question a product, ask the teacher what it will be used for, they will tell you.

For example, I overheard a parent a few years ago complaining that their kindergartner needed dry erase markers. The parent was saying… how many markers will a teacher go through in a year. My child will probably never even get to use the marker on the board. Where if the parent asked they would probably find out that every child in that classroom will most likely have a lap size whiteboard that will be used in the learning process.

Parents… Teachers are not trying to make you go broke. They are not trying to punish you. They are not even mildly attempting to be unreasonable in their requests. Just remember that if they do not ask for these resources now they will either have to ask later (when parents are less likely to buy since they won’t be on sale) or buy the items themselves. I know myself and most teachers I know spend a LOT of their own money for the classroom. If you can’t afford items the teachers will not make your child’s life miserable, the teacher will just go out and buy the items him/herself.


9 thoughts on “School Supply Lists

      1. Yup I am happy to explain my supplies to any parent, but it drives me nuts when they send a puppy duo-tang rather than a red one or those cheap pencils that don’t sharpen and only frustrate the children!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I was always very particular about supplies. It did drive me nuts when puppy dog notebooks came in because I did the red reading notebook/green for science, etc. I liked to be able to look around and check that everyone had the correct notebook out. And kids absolutely do mess that up. Some will not pay attention and have work in all kinds of notebooks. I can also understand the brand thing. I saw something today that Dollar Tree crayons reportedly have asbestos in them. Anyways…I feel like most people have been pretty generous this year. Several teachers I know have created wish lists with requests for books and other items. I know people have been reaching out on social media to help. I have enjoyed watching generosity spread during this Back to School season.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I wish that school districts were given enough money to eliminate the need for these supplies to be given in this way, but I doubt that will happen in a long time. we need to realize that teachers are just trying to help you and your children

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oh that is so awesome to hear! In recent years I have been trying my best to only spend as much money as I get from the school, but I’m sure you can imagine how successful that is!😖

            Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never had a teacher say we had to buy a specific brand for something. I didn’t realize some teachers did that! The one problem with asking for certain color items is that if Target is out of red folders then the parents have to drive to other stores to find them and they don’t even know if Walmart will have red folders.

    Personally I don’t think a school should have to supply children with notebooks and paper for things. I feel like those items are as necessary for students as a backpack which the parents will supply. Give it a few years and I doubt students will need a ton of supplies since so much is done online now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the need to supply items for students has increased in the last few years. When I began teaching years and years ago the list was super short. Now it is a lot longer because the money provided to the teachers is less and less

      Most stores such as target, walmart etc stock up on the basic colors more than they do the fun things now because of the fact that most elementary teachers request specific colors for items.

      I have no problem as a parent purchasing items, and yes I understand it gets expensive when you are buying folders, notebooks, pencils, crayons, scissors, makers (dry erase and coloring) glue and then also items like tissues, wipes, copy paper, bandaids, etc…. there is so many more items that teachers still will pick up on their own during the year

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting! Since my younger brother is now in high school, he doesn’t get a list so I had no idea the list got longer for students! Now I know a lot of schools, at least ones near where my parents live, have students buy a Chromebook and everything is done on Google docs. Maybe that’s different for younger students though!

        I can definitely see why more stores would stock up on stuff now. It definitely depends on when the parent goes shopping. Stuff gets picked over so quickly!

        Personally I think the complaints parents have with school supplies is that the cost is big up front in addition to any new clothes/uniform their child needs since they most likely grew from the last year. That’s just my thought though and I could totally be wrong! I’ve never been on that end of back to school so I could be completely off the ball.


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