Monday, August 20, 2007

Being prepared is for sissies.

What happened to buying school supplies before the school year starts? I remember that it seemed like back to school shopping came so early in the summer time, before I was really ready to be reminded that I'd have to return soon.

Back to school shopping meant buying a load of new clothes, and tons of school supplies. Before the first day of school.

My daughter started third grade today, and my son started seventh (junior high!). Our elementary school sends out a small packet with your child's teacher's name, some information sheets, and a supplies list for school. The problem is that the information invariably arrives within about ten days of the start of school. Ten days? Really?

Not only does this not provide any real time for shopping, particularly for working families, but, also, this plants the time the list is received and the time school starts smack between paychecks for most families.

I know that in some neighborhoods this may not be a big deal. However, our school is filled with mostly working and lower-middle class families. The kind of families where money is spent shortly after receipt. The kind where all the grown folk living in the household leave to work each day.

My son's school never did send home a list of supplies before the school year started. Sure, there were the obvious things, like a lock for the locker, some means of taking notes and keeping papers. But there was no specific list. I thought that must mean that they're trusting the kids to know what they need to do to keep everything together.

Apparently, I was wrong.

My son came home from his first day of school with a note from each teacher, each of them detailing supplies.

And, what, I should run out right now and pick these all up? What about the shopping I did before the first day of school?

Am I to infer that being prepared counts for nothing?

Oops. Probably not what they meant by that.

Fortunately for us, some of the things are already taken care of. We had either already thought of that, or had it on hand (I have this issue with buying school supplies. I really like school supplies.). The rest of it he's just going to have to live without until the weekend. It's mainly just a few little things. I should be able to get them reasonably priced and from one store. I just will not have the time or energy to take care of going there and doing that until the weekend.

My point, though, really, is that it would be very nice if we parents could get more of a heads up when specific supplies are needed for back to school. I found out from the elementary school secretary that it's mostly the same list from year to year. In fact, my daughter's third grade supply list had the same error on it as her brother's third grade supply list (a red highlighter? Really?). So why can't they send that home on the last day of school with the report card, and then again with the teacher list before school? That would be super for those of us who believe in shopping early and shopping often.

As for my son's school... I'm pretty sure those teachers have been teaching these classes long enough that they just use the same list, too. Except for Japanese. Which I believe is new to the school.

Seriously. I know schools and districts have all sorts of things that happen over summer that can change things... But I really don't think it's too much to ask to give us at least a full month's notice on school supplies.

Since, clearly, it's too much to ask for the school to supply them for us (thanks, no child left behind. I adore having to supply tissue for the my kid's classroom for the year. That's awesome!).

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