School Supply Time Already?!

by Katy on August 4, 2008 · 6 comments



I adore the pace of summertime. The sleeping in, not having to nag about homework, leisurely days spent splashing in the pool. Ahh. . . summer.

Did I mention the sleeping in?

Tragically, summer is winding down.

The first sign?

Advertisements for school supplies.

Paper, pens, glue. Somehow never all sold at the same store.


My ten-year-old came home on the last day of school with a little pink half-sheet of paper, outlining all the supplies I needed to send with him for fifth-grade.

(I have no idea where it is now, but that’s an entirely different issue.)

I’m dreading the drive from store to store, an entire day wasted on this unwelcome and depressing task.

One year, the teacher just asked for a check, so she could buy the what she needed. This way, all the supplies would be the same, and she would have precisely what she wanted.


And if my memory stands correct, it was less money than if I’d bought everything on my own.

One person running one errand instead of 30.

One car on the road instead of 30.

It is highly wasteful to have 30 sets of parents run these errands individually. Thirty cars driving around town, everyone buying a slightly different variety of supplies.

Gasoline. Time. Effort.

Alas, the other fifth-grade parents have probably already started their school supply shopping, so it may be too late for this year.

Just thinking about all this makes me want to sleep in a little extra tomorrow.

How does your community deal with the school supplies issue? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Van Willigen August 4, 2008 at 6:24 am

I received a letter in the mail…usually they just email…and I found this wondrous line…”the school will once again be purchasing the school supplies for your child”…so that is how we deal with it, we pay 17,000 a year for tuition and we get FREE school supplies. I have noticed other schools place their lists in the stores to help parents, hopefully the teachers get a kick back.

I love shopping for school supplies especially when they are a penny. I went to 4 stores yesterday (I did park and walk to 3 of them, braving the pedestrian maiming route to do so) I buy the limit and pass them on. One of the stores had a bin you could put them in to give them to folks who need them. I am also putting together a “school supply” themed birthday present for my 5 year old nephew.

Next year you could figure out where to buy all the school supplies and let all the parents know so they don’t have to drive around looking…and generate more blog traffic! You can also search the big boxes websites and see if they even carry something and call before you venture out. If you have a local store, I bet them would put together a kit next year. It would also be an excellent way for the parent association to make money…bulk order the stuff needed and sell it to the parents in a “5th bag”…cheaper for everyone and easier for parents and you could mark it up a little to make some money.

I love school supplies and have been enjoying going through the 40 years of stuff in the office that I am shutting down. I am especially pleased with the following items: 3 dozen navy blue with white eraser pencils that say “Commonwealth of Kentucky” that I remember my Dad using in the 70s, one very worn out eraser like the one that Claus Oldenburg copied, and the an actual compass with a sharp end for my daughter to torment the boys in her geometry class with this year (if you haven’t looked lately they all have plastic points now. What is geometry without a little danger??).

Still addicted to school supplies…old or new.

Enjoyable post



Shymom August 4, 2008 at 7:00 am

We didn’t get our list of supplies until school starts. Even more so now that DS is in high school and DD is in middle school with each of them having 6 or 7 teachers.

During the summer I hit the sales at Staples and Office Depot. I work part time in a school and have a budget of $0 for supplies. I hate to constantly be asking for things from the main classroom teachers, so I try to outfit myself as cheaply as possible.

One thing I do is have the kids go on a scavenger hunt around the house to find what we already have that is on their list. I have a friend who thinks this is shocking. She thinks her precious children must have new to start school. She spent $150 on one child last year for school supplies alone. I think that is shocking (okay I think it is stupid, too!)

Anne–my son has a compass like that. He puts the sharp point in a piece of cork to keep it from stabbing him through his backpack.


Christy August 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

My two children were actually shocked last year when they saw the grand total at the register for their school supplies. My then 5th grader was actually a little concerned that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay for it. However, seeing how much supplies can add up has caused both of my children to take a little more care for there supplies and are very willing to recycle as many supplies from last year as possible. It is enough to make this “eco freak” (as my children refer to me) feel all warm and fuzzy!

Anne- I love your idea of making a “5th grade school supply bag” as a school fundraiser. I much rather spend money to help the school on items that will actually get used, unlike many of the items they usually try to sell. Plus, maybe the school could buy some more eco-friendly choices, such as recycled newspaper pencils or refillable pens with actuall refills.


Meadowlark August 4, 2008 at 11:04 am

I’m past this point. But this is how bad I am: I hated the socialism of school supplies.

Dangit, if I bought my kid an ultra-cool crayon set/pencil set/ scissors/ etc, I want THEM to use it, not be put in the communal pot and distributed to whoever is in need.

So yes, I’m bad, I know. 🙁


Catherine August 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

When we lived in California the PTA at the school my kids went to sold school supplies for the next school year. The kids brought home a form, you told the PTA them how many packs you needed and what grade and when you took the kids to see the class list, viola, the PTA was there with your school supplies all package and ready to go, no shopping and yes, cheaper.

Alas, we do not have that here in Mississippi. One year I made the suggestion that the PTA let people buy extra school supply packages to donate to kids at the school who could not afford school supplies. They did not use my idea.


Anna July 19, 2009 at 10:54 pm

well i love when school starts and i get to use new fresh notebooks with no doodles and words in them…stuff like that. usually what i do to not waste money is reuse supplies that can be reused(pens,pencils,extra binderpaper from notebooks not fully used…) but what sucks about my school/schools (the district) is that they dont send the students a list of supplies 🙁 and now that im in middle school all teachers differ and i have 7 different periods and many lists. i wish they sent us lists before hand becuase before school there are always great sales full of savings. so for me its always a strugle.but i dont have to go to different stores to get supplies…..i usually go to Target or Staples and they have great prices and quality. so i dont understand that complaint. but it would be nice if the teachers did all the shopping so we all had the same things. and i understand how thats a great money saver in this economy! so i wish everyone happy shopping and hope this year wont be as stressful as you say!


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