Parental Guidance: Back to School

Hello and welcome to the occasional Parental Guidance thread, where parents and parental adjacent caregivers can talk about How To Bring Kid Up Good And Stuff.

There will usually be a topic for prompting,  but any parental stuff is welcome here.

This discussion is open to non parents who work in education or child care!

I chose the back to school topic, because it’s that time of year. I am both a teacher and a parent, so this is a topic near and dear to me.

Every year, there’s always a THING about why your kid’s school supply list is so extensive and specific.  I’m here to tell you a few reasons for that, at least in the younger grades:

School budgets are really strained – so things like tissues and hand sanitizer are not provided. Some school districts don’t even have a nurse.  I once worked in a district that ran out of TOILET PAPER in April, and the teachers chipped in to get a few cases of toilet paper for the rest of the year. Trust me, whatever of that stuff you send in,  there can always be more. If one can’t spend a lot on it early in the school year – spring for some in November or January or April, or all 3. You think your kid is messy? Try having 20 – 30 of them.

Color coded folders and notebooks and already sharpened pencils are actually kind of important. They help students and teachers be more organized In the younger grades and help establish classroom routines in the beginning of the year that kids can become more independent of later in the year. Some kids may not be able to tell if it’s their Spiderman or Batman folder for this or that subject, or be distracted by that. It’s easier and a bit more egalitarian to say ” please take out your yellow math folder.”

Same with requests for a certain type of pencil or crayon. Kids often fuss about pretty much anything they can, and  “she’s got a sparkly pencil and I don’t” kind of stuff is a pain for teachers to deal with.  Trust me, there are sparkly pencils to be earned, let the teacher give them out as rewards. Save the “special” school supplies to help the kids at home with homework – “Do you want to do your math homework with the Elsa or Ana pencil? Oh no- You’re frustrated take a break -and then we can see if Iron Man  Pencil has better luck than Spiderman Pencil!”

Yeah, the supplies you buy will often go into a community pot in the classroom. That’s because school budgets are strained, and usually teachers only give supply lists in the beginning of the year. You’d have to buy more stuff for your own kid if they wore out “their” crayons. It also prevents some “Mine! Mine!” arguments that teachers have to constantly deal with.

If your child is in an upper grade and there is a demand for a specific color folder or binder, that usually means it’s going to be easier on the teacher to sort and grade your kids work, do it for them. It shows you are on the same team as parents.

Supplies are a big bee in my bonnet these days, but let’s also talk about your hopes/ fears/ challenges for this school year!

Please enjoy the opening number of Grease 2 about Teenagers in Gangs.