Saturday, August 4, 2018

I Used To Be The Parent Complaining About The Cost of School Supplies

When we signed our oldest up for preschool many, many years ago, we anxiously awaited the email that had our school supply list. We were surprised when we got that list and saw very specific brands and sizes for everything on the list. We were even more surprised that those school supplies cost upwards of $100. I complained about those supplies to anyone who would listen. It seemed ridiculous. Does it really matter if we buy the 24 count crayons vs. the 96 count, which was actually cheaper (plus way more colors)? I totally didn't understand and I totally didn't have the inside knowledge I have now.

What my 28 year old self didn't understand was that once those supplies run out, and they will run out before the end of the school year, those teachers are spending their own money towards our children's education. They ask for very specific supplies for numerous reasons; the biggest being that teachers/schools know exactly what products work best for our children's constant use. I learned more and more about what the teacher's selflessly provide for our children as all of my children entered elementary school.

My kids came home from school one day talking about the snacks they were eating every day. I wasn't aware the kids were getting snacks that school year. Naturally, I inquired about it and found that nearly every teacher in my children's school were buying snacks for their classrooms. Snacks that the kids ate every day. I know how expensive it is to feed a large number of children and it is not cheap! Yet these teachers do it every day, out of their own paychecks.

I wouldn't take this to heart as much as I do if I weren't a daycare provider. One of my favorite things about my daycare is that on school breaks and during the summer, I open daycare for school age kids. This is a rarity in our area, as most daycare's don't allow school age children to attend. I know how much food, craft supplies, household items, toiletries, etc. the kid's go through. I spent over $100 alone this summer on slime making supplies. I have learned firsthand just how much crap kids can go through. I can only imagine trying to get through an entire school year with only the school supplies on our list every August.

As my children grew, I've grown accustomed to the school supply lists each year. I usually buy extras of the things teachers run out of the quickest (tissues, Expo markers, glue sticks are the most popular items apparently) so the teachers don't have to dip into their own paychecks. I also send large amounts of nonperishable snack items now that I know the teachers are also dipping into their own pockets to keep our children from going hungry (it's impossible to deal with kids who are starving) during their long school days. 

I can't believe I once complained (and I complained hard) about the school supplies my child needed. I agree, the cost of back-to-school can get pricey, especially with multiple children. I've figured out that with school supplies (no new backpacks unless absolutely needed), new clothes (turns out kids can grow a ridiculous amount during the summer), new shoes, and anything else required for school, our out of pocket cost for Back-To-School Shopping is around $800 for three kids. However, that amount is a lot less than what teachers spend every school year on the things needed to teach our children. And that is forever priceless.