Freshly sharpened No. 2’s

Does anything say school’s back in session more clearly than a pile of freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils? It’s almost a rite of passage for your child to have some of those bright yellow writing sticks in his backpack as he heads out the door that first morning of the new school year.

As humble as they are, those new pencils represent hope, anxiety, excitement and fun as your child begins the year anew. New beginnings, whether it’s a new pencil, a new school or a new classroom, are fraught with the promise of many adventures.

Try following that new pencil through the first couple weeks of school and you’ll have your eyes opened to the busy life your little student lives while not under your roof for six or more hours a day.

Seriously, take a look at your child’s pencils after the first month of school. Quite often they will be sharpened to about half the size they originally were and almost all will have lost that shiny, new appearance. Some will have bite marks up and down their flanks, others will have dull, much-used points. And almost all will have a little nubbin of an eraser left.

This is because your child is busy! Learning not only involves taking knowledge in. It’s just as important for your child to export that knowledge and that quite often involves busily churning out worksheets and daily writing journals.

When I was the office mom (a.k.a. school secretary) at Hawthorne School, it seemed like kids were constantly in need of pencils and other common supplies. We were lucky enough to have a supply cabinet that was able to provide supplemental pencils, paper, glue, notebooks, index cards, crayons, kleenex, etc. for kiddos.

But it was surprising to me how quickly the supplies were used up. It wasn’t unusual to hear someone asking a child in jest, “Another pencil already? Did you eat your last one?”  But the fact is, learning not only takes energy, it takes a constant stream of supplies.

Thinking of that, it might be a good plan for you to check your child’s supplies every couple of months throughout the year. Usually, your child’s teacher will send an alert home in the classroom newsletter if student supplies are getting in need of replacement.

But it wouldn’t hurt for you to check your own child’s stash. After all, we all know how much easier a job goes if we have the propert tools that are in good shape. The same is true for your child’s school projects.

And that brings me to the topic of the cost of keeping a child outfitted with good school supplies all year long. Even with one child in school the cost of new school supplies can put a small dent in the family budget.

Obviously, that dent just gets bigger the more school-aged children there are in the family. So here are a few suggestions for helping keep your child supplied on a budget.

  • School supplies can pose as neat little gifts because they make great stocking stuffers. And the timing is great since supplies can probably use an upgrade by then.
  • Make use of the computer and weekly sales flyers to find not only the best deals in your area, but a treasure trove of coupons, too.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop thrift stores and garage sales. Quite often there are brand new items there for a fraction of the retail cost.
  • Buy items in bulk when the best back-to-school sales are on and then dole out replacement items to your child as needed.

This list of common sense suggestions could go on but, hopefully, these few ideas might spur your own ideas for creative ways to find affordable school supplies.

If you find you are still having trouble finding the school supplies you need at the price you need, check out this great article on how to lower the cost of outfitting your child with the materials and supplies she needs this school year.

And, finally, don’t forget that as frustrating as it is to see those supplies being gobbled up, it means that your child is learning and producing. Keeping him properly supplied is a small price to pay as you and your child’s teacher help him become the best he can be.

Okay, got to run sharpen some pencils now.  My wish for you this week is that you have an awesome week of bargain hunting school supplies on the cheap. We all know that’s an education in itself!

Cathie

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