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Investigate before back-to-school shopping ensues
by Larry Wilson
Aug 21, 2012 | 1977 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The start of the traditional school year is just a week away. Many families are in the throes of those back-to-school purchases. What do we need and how much do we have to spend? I know I should be supporting anything that stimulates the economy, but in all fairness to families, as a former teacher, I can’t urge you enough to not buy into all those ads telling you to buy all those school clothes and supplies now.

Before you set out on that all important school clothes and supplies shopping expedition, take a moment and either call or go by your student’s school and find out if your student’s teacher has supplied a list of needed supplies for his or her students. Also, many schools have gone to mandatory uniforms for every student. Parents need to know if that is the case for their student and then find out where to go to acquire the needed uniforms.

When it comes to school clothes, I know when I was a kid I always got new Levis, underwear and shoes and socks. I would go to school those first few days and was absolutely miserable with all the newness in the clothing. The shoes needed breaking in and the Levis were stiff and hot. I didn’t concentrate on school then as much as I did on how uncomfortable I was with all the new clothes. Nobody in my class really cared if I had new clothes or not so what was all that about anyway?

The other thing about the clothes was the hassle of going to the store to buy them. The crowds of people, stuff was out of stock, it was like some sort of feeding frenzy to acquire all those clothing items in what seemed like a concerted effort to make me feel miserable in my desk until the weather turned cool enough to enjoy the warmth the new clothes imparted to me those first few days of the new school year. I still, to this day, hate shopping for clothes. I think I have a permanent hatred for shopping in general probably because of the shopping for school escapades of my earlier life.

For today’s families, given the state of the economy and from the viewpoint of being a former teacher, I’d much rather see kids come to school those first days in comfortable, clean, well maintained clothes rather than all the new, stiff, hot, and possibly expensive clothes.

Many schools now are requiring students to wear a uniform-type ensemble so as to not allow anything derogatory to befall the student such as any reference to gangs, vulgarities of various kinds, etc. . . . It would be wise for parents to check with their student’s school to make sure they don’t need this type of clothing before they set out to buy school clothes. Many stores may not take back the school clothes that were bought before they found out they needed a uniform-type ensemble. If that were to happen, parents would spend more money than they really needed to spend for sure.

School supplies are other items that can wait until school starts. I know there are fabulous sales on right now, but your student may not need all the stuff you buy right now. It would be better to wait until school starts and see what the teachers would like your student to have in the way of school supplies rather than buying a bunch of stuff and then find out it wasn’t needed. Ideally, your student’s new teacher has made up a list of necessities for school that each student should have and left a copy of those needs for each student in the school office. Parents could check with each school office for lists of that nature as well.

All the big chain stores would dearly like you to leave their store with enough school supplies for the next century tucked under each arm, but honestly, all that stuff is not necessary and it costs more money to boot. Many of those darling notebooks and book bags are either too big for lockers or desks and are just plain not allowed at school for various reasons and here again, you’re stuck with not being able to return them as well.

Many schools in Washoe County have undergone major face lifts this summer. One of the biggest being the addition of various improved forms of security around the schools. There are new rules for parents and other visitors as a result. If a student’s school hasn’t already informed parents of these changes, it would be wise to discover these additions to security now rather than being either embarrassed or inconvenienced or both in the future.

Parents should also find out if their student is to be bussed or not and find out where the pick-up points and drop off points are located as well as the times of pick-up and drop off.

Lunch is always a biggie with students. Parents need to find out costs and whether or not they need apply for free or reduced lunch. They might even be able to pickup a menu for the coming month.

Parents, especially parents with students new to our school district, need to make sure their student’s shot record is up to date and that all the required shots and vaccinations have been completed so as to allow for an easy path to enrollment in their student’s new school setting.

Every new school year is somewhat stressful to both the parents and the students, and teachers are aware of this and will go to great lengths to ensure a smooth transition into the new school year. Key to that transition being as smooth as possible is for parents to communicate with their student’s school to get all their questions answered before any hassles develop that will seem overwhelming to overcome.

Above all, wish your student a great year in school. Be supportive of school activities and your student’s progress academically throughout the year. Have a great year!

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at
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