As the start of the school year looms on the horizon, I think it’s important for parents to follow a few precautionary rules. First of all, Johnny doesn’t need all new clothes for school. Don’t think you have to break the bank to outfit your little ones for the first day of school. Yes, you’ll have to dress them a little differently – no more swimsuits all day long – but they already have clothes, and that’s fine. New clothes are too hot, anyway. I can remember wearing new Levis to school the first day and darn near roasting to death before school was over that day.
Another problem with new clothes is that, unless you’ve checked with your child’s school as to what will be appropriate wear to school, you might be purchasing clothes that will not be allowed at school, and I don’t care how darling they are on the store’s rack. Some schools have deemed certain apparel as not appropriate for their school’s kids to wear.
Shoes are another source of irritation as school is starting. No, Johnny can not go barefoot to school. Often open toed shoes are not allowed either. All because Johnny might hurt himself with those types of shoes. Tennis shoes are fine, but again, don’t break the bank buying them. Kids don’t need the most expensive Michael Jordan signature types despite what they tell you in the shoe department as you are purchasing their shoes for them.
School supplies are another area where parents tend to go overboard with their back to school purchases. I know parents mean well, but honestly, if Johnny goes through more than one glue stick for the whole year it’s probably too much. Parents need to check with the school before purchasing school supplies as the teacher may have left a list of school supplies which will be given to parents as they register Johnny, or, better yet, wait until after the first day or so of school to find out what really is needed before you purchase those supplies. Don’t worry, I know there is a mob scene the first few days after school starts as parents jam to their local school supply warehouse. The kids are crying, the parents are frustrated, the shelves if they aren’t already picked over are a mess, and the whole scene is unnecessary. Most teachers don’t need all the supplies the next day. Within a week or so is fine. Don’t kill yourselves or sell your kids over the issue of getting school supplies.
A good rule of thumb to use when buying any school supplies is this: If it’s got a lot of really darling little features and gimmicks, don’t buy it; it’s too much for school. It’s probably too big and won’t fit in Johnny’s desk or locker anyway. And remember, you do not need to buy a lifetime supply of anything. I don’t care how big a bargain it is, don’t buy it. Please, buy only what the teacher asks for – no more, no less.
If you have a student who is going to live in a dorm, check with the school to see what dorm accessories will be allowed. Some schools do not allow microwaves or little refrigerators. Things like that are cheap enough nationwide that you don’t have to buy it at home and pack it half way around the world to find out it’s an item that is not allowed. If it’s an item that is allowed, pick it up at the nearest store to school. They’ll have sales as well. Cash or plastic is a lot easier to pack than a two cubic square foot refrigerator that may not be allowed in the dorm room anyway.
After all the hassles of getting you ready for school in the fall Johnny, the least you can do is give your Mom and Dad a hug and a kiss and thank them for taking such good care of you. And remember, the least you can do for them Johnny is get those “A’s” out there for them, if for no other reason.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.