Back to School Supplies, Part 2

I found a school supplies list for my daughter’s school and grade at Wal-Mart. I wonder if they were just out of that particular school’s lists when I checked last. I plan to purchase my daughter’s supplies this weekend.

However, I have a beef with… well, I’m not sure who to blame for this. I don’t think it is entirely the teachers. It could be the administration, but I’m not sure about that either. I suspect my real beef is with the other parents. Let me explain.

My daughter has been asked to purchase all the fairly normal supplies: crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, regular school glue, watercolor paints, folders, a bookbag, tissues, antibacterial soap, scissors, along with a few more unorthodox items, such as Ziplock bags. No problem. However, this statement was written next to the bookbag request on the list: this is the only item that needs to have your child’s name on it, as the rest of the supplies will be shared.

I don’t like this. When I went school-supply shopping as a kid, part of the fun was picking out stuff I really wanted, like a pencil box with cartoon characters I liked or pencils made out of recycled denim jeans. And they were mine. I think I know why I am being asked to buy supplies for the kids to share. I think it’s because some parents will not, for a variety of reasons, buy supplies for their child; therefore, I am being asked to pick up the slack.

This really bugs me. I am going to buy the requested supplies, but I think it is unfair to ask me to buy these supplies knowing that my daughter may or may not be using them. To my way of thinking, any shared supplies should be the responsibility of the school to provide. I imagine some of you out there will disagree with me about this. I just hate the notion that my daughter, excited about going to school and purchasing her first set of supplies, might get confused when they are handed over to her teacher to dole out to her classmates. Of course, it may be that the only thing she really cares about is her backpack, which she gets to keep for herself.

Update: I have decided that Maggie will share the tissues, soap, and Ziplock bags, because I understand these were intended for classroom use (and I doubt she would use them up by herself); however, I will tell her teacher that I do not want Maggie to give up her school supplies for the class.  I asked my older daughter if it would have bothered her to have her school supplies taken by her teacher and put into some communal pile, and she said it would have.  I believe there is a time and place for sharing, and Maggie will do plenty of that in school.  I also think my gut was telling me the right thing, here.  The crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue, scissors, and folders are Maggie’s.  If she needs items replaced through the year, I’ll be happy to do so.  I think it is fair that a teacher request that she not borrow supplies from others, too; in fact, I hope that she will learn to be prepared with her own supplies.  Thanks for your comments, everyone.

P. S. This post is now several years old, and the concerns I expressed are a nonissue to me at this point. I also don’t like being used to further the right-wing agenda of someone I don’t know. Comments are closed, and folks who contact me about this post will be ignored.

8 thoughts on “Back to School Supplies, Part 2”

  1. I agree with you on this point, as far as school supplies go. I have heard of teachers asking each kid to bring in a box of tissues and a roll of paper towels, to be used throughout the year in the classroom but sharing actual school supplies? If I was a parent, I'd be pretty annoyed. Certain things should be purchased by the school for the kids to share like glue, scissors, etc.

  2. You're absolutely right: The supplies you're buying belong to your daughter and to no one else. If I were you, I might go so far as to put her name on each and every item, not just the backpack. Be bold: Voice your concern to the school. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with this. Helping the slackers, indeed!

  3. I am appalled that a teacher/school would request this. As teachers, we all know how difficult it is to get supplies from our district/school, but I would never ask for parents to take on that responsibility. I usually have a wish list of things like paper towels, printer paper, and the like that they can donate, but not actual school supplies. I have had parents in the past who have donated things like crayons and markers, but they brought it in to me personally and it was not their child's own supplies. I agree with CaliforniaTeacherGuy–mark her supplies with her name–if you sit back and "go with the flow" things will never change!

  4. I did this. But my note said, "If yr child wishes to house his own items, it will be his responsibility to have them daily. I will be happy to house supplies for the children, but in order to save time, those iyems will be housed in a common area for all to share."

    I had about 50/50… (of those who bothered to get the list).. I say by 6th grade only half the parents bother w/ it…

    So you have about 25% of the kids who "give" it to you and the other 25% keep it… However… dollars to do-nuts.. when it's time to use it…. "It's in my locker. Can I go get it?"

  5. I do something similar for my students, though I tell them that they do not have to share.

    However, the students that do not share are not allowed to borrow supplies from other students. Students learn pretty quickly the value of sharing what they have with their peers.

  6. I am extremely annoyed about this right now! My son started school today (3rd Grade) I found out he got to pick 2 of his notebooks and 2 folders and everything else is to shared and given to the kids who could not afford supplies. Nice or not, I am going to the school tommorrow to collect all the school supplies I paid for and will replace them with the discount stuff. I spent atleast four times as much money on buying my son the things he wanted. If this was stated on the school supplies list I surely would have chosen to buy the plain stuff!

  7. I think the greatest thing I have found recently is a place called School Supplies Network. They have hundreds of school's lists, (and if they don't have yours they can get it). They will get you the exact supplies, (including the exact brands), and they will ship it to you. It takes a couple of minutes to order on line and the hassle of shopping for school supplies is over. Their prices are very reasonable too…especially when you consider the time, frustration and gas you save by using them.

  8. I am in total agreement with you. My son starts kindergarten next week, and his school shares all of their supplies because it "teaches them personal responsibility and sharing." Nothing about forced communal supplies teaches either behavior. There are numerous opportunities to teach sharing, and the only way to teach personal responsibility is to have something personal for which to be responsible. I am sending in some generic supplies to be dumped in the pot, but I also will be sending in a nicely worded letter explaining that my child is and will be responsible for his own supplies.

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