Why I'm Sending Extra School Supplies This Year

I've been there. I remember wondering why my kid needed 36 sharpened Ticonderoga pencils {yes...a specific brand of pencils...and the most expensive ones at that!} and 24 glue sticks. I may have even complained a little. Why can one kid not use a single glue stick throughout the year? Why does my son need so many pencils? Why does my daughter need to share supplies? Can't they learn responsibility with their own things? I know I'm not the only parent who rolled their eyes when they saw the length and specificity of the school supply list they received.

I'm lucky though. I have the money to purchase school supplies for my kids and I'm thankful that even during what I felt like were my martyrdom years of purchasing all the supplies on those lists, that I did just that. I've grown in my understanding of why teachers ask for more supplies than one child needs and I'm happy to provide. Do you have any idea how long a pencil or a glue stick lasts in a classroom? Does it annoy you that the school supplies you purchased for your child are being shared? 

Several years ago when college expenses were looming I decided to look into getting a job. There was a shortage of substitutes in our area and I decided to give that a go. I always wanted to be a teacher, how hard could it be? I learned a lot during my stint in the classroom and I want to share some thoughts.

Why I'm Sending Extra School Supplies This Year 

{And I'm Not Complaining!}

back to school, teacher appreciation, school supplies

I learned real quickly that not all pencils are created equal. Seriously, teachers know this and if they ask for a specific brand on a school supply list, they are the experts, get that. Ticonderoga pencils are expensive but they last far longer than any flowery freebie your kids got from the library reading program and are totally worth investing in. I promise you, teachers are not getting some kick back from Elmer's. 

There is no ulterior motive, only expertise.

When I was subbing, I would often try to use my free period during the day to sharpen pencils or straighten books in a classroom library.  One of my kids favorite classes was art. Yep, we have an art teacher, aren't we lucky?! She's fabulous, creative, thoughtful and responsible and she sees every single child in the whole school each week and I was shocked that the bucket that contained her pencils was filled with two inch sticks kids were trying to draw with. It was January.

When's the last time you sent your art teacher with supplies? 

Why are we complaining about our kids school supply list when the real complaint shouldn't be directly with the school but instead with the value that is placed on our public education system. Shouldn't we be marching on the capital lawn demanding full funding so that those people educating the future of our society aren't writing with nubs? 

I've heard people complain about shared supplies. The reasoning I often hear is that people think that if you have a child come in with a set of their own supplies that they learn responsibility by caring for their particular supplies.  

Taking care of our own things and learning responsibility is a good thing, but isn't taking care of people a skill we want our children to take with them into adulthood?

I've noticed on the lists lately that teachers are asking for dry erase markers, cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer. State-level school funding is being cut and most teachers are paying around $500 a year out of their pocket on supplies. Supplies that were previously included in the funding, teachers need to provide now. These supplies are expensive, I get it, but I've stood at the board using a dry erase marker that was so faint that even the kids in the first row couldn't read it. 

Isn't it worth it to spend a few extra dollars and purchase those items on the list so that we can create the best learning environment for our kids? We demand a lot of our teachers and so many of us aren't working to make their jobs any easier with attitudes of resentment over a few extra dollars spent on supplies that will help our children learn.
Mid-year I've seen pleas from teachers asking for supplies. Kids during cold and flu season obliterated the Kleenex and an extra teaching lesson or two on the white board depleted the stock of dry erase markers. No one I know likes to beg for help, so I can't imagine coming to parents with a request like this is easy for them. Teachers aren't looking for handouts, they are looking for tools to help teach your children.

Schools should have proper funding. Our children should have the supplies they need to help them learn and teachers shouldn't have to beg for basic tools to do their jobs. That is why I'm sending extra school supplies this year. It's why I'm donating supplies to schools my kids don't even attend and it's why you should too. Because the future of our society depends on it. 

Those kids sitting in that classroom will be your doctor. They will be your grandchildren's teacher and your government leader. As my girl Whitney Houston said, let's teach them well and let them lead the way. So buy an extra glue stick and fork out the extra for the name brand pencils. It's worth it.

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Gladys Parker said...

Bravo, what an article! I was one of those children 40 years ago that was always embarrassed because I didn't have my supplies. My mother was very sickly and in an out of the hospital leaving my father to tend to school affairs. He was old fashion and his children should be lucky he buys pencils. I tried hard to make up for it when my own children went to school. The state and Federal government should be ashamed of themselves for not giving the basic rights to teachers by providing what they need to teach.

Unknown said...

Yes!! I realize how lucky I am to be able to provide my kids with everything they need for school and that not all parents are able to do so. Sending some extra supplies to help those kids and to take the burden off of the teachers is the least I can do.

Theresa Mahoney said...

We live in a poorer district where 85% of the kids qualify for free lunch so I always buy extra supplies for the classroom. My daughter just asked me yesterday why she had to take in 4 boxes of tissue when the list only asked for 1. I had to tell her that some of the families may not be able to pitch in for that 1 box, so we're making sure the class doesn't go without. We'll send more in this winter as well along with more supplies to help out.

Hope Clark said...

This is great, as I myself am a student, it's very important to provide extras. I come from a lower class family and understand what it's like not to have those school supplies and this could make a real difference. Well done!

Unknown said...

What a thoughtful article! In our school, we pay a certain amount to the teacher, so they buy the materials they need. From next year, we have to start buying supplies, so will keep in mind sending some extra!

Unknown said...

Yes! It is so important to help our students and our teachers. Simply providing extra supplies is a major help. What a great way to help our nation's future!

Unknown said...

Extra supplies are a big help to students. Especially here in Philippines, some students dont have a complete school supplies because of lack of financial.

Catvills said...

I love your initiative. Our schools are in desperate need of funding and if this is not immediately met by the government, then we, as parents must do our part to help out. Donating a few extra school supplies is just like investing in the future - the youth of today will be our leaders tomorrow.

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