The school year is coming once again. That means both parents and teachers are performing the yearly ritual of emptying their wallets on a lengthy list of items their kids need for the coming year.
If you’re a parent whose kid(s) will attend Killeen or Ft. Hood schools this year, it’s important to stock your student(s) with everything they need to succeed. And while that’s different for every student, there are still some general principles about buying school supplies that every parent should know.
Here are some great tips you can follow to get an A+ in the subject of school supplies.
Find Your School Supplies Checklist
The most important first step is to know exactly what your children need for the coming school year. Some parents forget to find their school supplies lists in advance and have to scramble around the day before school starts!
Fortunately, Killeen ISD (which includes Ft. Hood schools) posts their school supplies lists for each year online. You can find a school supplies checklist for every grade here:
- 1st Grade
- 2nd Grade
- 3rd Grade
- 4th Grade
- 5th Grade
- 6th Grade
- 7th Grade
- 8th Grade
- 9th Grade
- 10th Grade
- 11th Grade
- 12th Grade
Each grade requires its own specific requirements for school supplies, so be sure you know the items your child (or children) need. Many items will overlap, so you should identify the most important items before ever making your purchase.
One great tip is to take inventory of last year’s remaining school supplies as soon as possible. Can any of it be reused?
Once you’ve figured out what you don’t need to buy, get to it early on. You can find some fantastic bargains in back-to-school sales that could dry up quickly.
You should also keep your school supply list on you at all times – in your car, in a file on your phone, etc. This will help you shop for school supplies as you run errands, or whenever you come across some great deals and can’t quite remember what to buy.
You could also try to find parents’ groups for your school district on social media networks like Facebook. These groups often organize school supply drives as early as the first few weeks after the last school year ends, and try to keep parents up-to-date on everything school-related.
Keep it Simple
Until we’re in the near future where kids don’t need basics like pencils and paper, whatever school supplies you buy probably won’t go out of style any time soon.
But remember, when you personalize your child’s school supplies, you might just have to replace it next year – even if it’s in perfect condition.
That’s why you need to beware the power of trends. If all the kids’ parents are buying them backpacks with cartoon characters on them, they might not be as popular in the next few years. Then you’ll be stuck with supplies your children refuse to use.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t let your kid demonstrate their individuality. I’m only stressing how important it is to separate wants from needs.
One last note on this – many teachers prefer items that don’t draw much attention in the classroom, so stay away from the frills as much as possible.
Buy in Bulk
When you look at your lists, certain items should definitely stand out to you as the core necessities that will be used throughout the school year – every day.
These are paper, pencils and pens, glue sticks, folders, and notebooks. Dollar stores, online shops, and warehouse stores are great sources for buying school supplies in bulk.
You should also devote a space in your home to storing school supplies, like a supply shelf or large storage container. That way, you won’t be forced to make any late-night shopping trips to stock up on pencils when your child runs out.
Depending on what grade your child is in and what classes they’ll be enrolled in, you may have more unique items you know will get a lot of use. Buy everything you know will come in handy when bought in bulk – and you may just keep enough around to roll over to next year.
Consider the Quality
When you buy art supplies, writing utensils, and backpacks, remember how much quality counts.
When you buy a cheap pen and it leaks through into your child’s clothing, your low initial investment comes back to bite you. Your best bet is to spend where it’s smart – on items that will last the longest without causing you more grief in the long run.
But that doesn’t mean you should splurge for the name brand on every single item. For instance, if you overspend on a calculator for a child in elementary school, it might be loaded with functions your child won’t use until years later.
Weigh your options on every purchase, and go for quality when you know it’ll stop you from having to buy another box of markers because all the ink ran out too quickly in the cheap brand.
Plan Ahead for Next Year!
On your kids’ last days of school, send a note to their teachers that requests the next year’s school supplies. If your kids’ schools don’t prepare a school supplies checklist in advance, find other parents and talk to administrators about how you could get such a list put together earlier next year.
Remember that if you can find out what your kids will need in general for years to come (the basics like notebook paper and writing utensils are a given), you can stock up big time.
Here’s where buying in bulk really comes in handy – having that extra box of crayons or colored pencils already and checking it off your school supplies checklist without spending any more money.
And if you have too many school supplies that your kids won’t be able to use, consider donating them. Schools always accept donations of any useful supplies to stock up their classrooms for students who can’t afford them. Or, host a supply drive at the school or nearby business, and donate the proceeds to a school, a local charity, or families in need.
If you have any questions about life in the Killeen, Ft. Hood, or Austin area – don’t think twice about contacting me today! I can help you get acquainted with just about every aspect of this part of Texas and give you some great tips on local real estate!