Sunday, September 05, 2010

Back to school blues

The beginning of the school year always feels far more like the start of a new year than Jan. 1. There's the bittersweet ending of summer, the change in temperatures and the excitement of new notebooks, pencils and pens. Really, what other simple joy is there than a new, pure white eraser, a box of new markers, or (gasp) cracking open a new notebook and starting to write on the first page?

My excitement is dulled, however, with the back to school lists. Really, I want to know what my kids need for supplies in the upcoming months, but I would rather have a list of supplies the kids will truly need, rather than what seems like a made-up list.

This year, two of the more unbelievable items on my son's list included 48 HB pencils and a box of plastic bags with a zipper.

With class sizes up to 30 children, that means the teacher will be collecting 1,440 pencils on Tuesday morning. There are about 195 school days a year, so that means each child will have 7.4 pencils a day at their disposal!

Conversely, the Grade 2 list doesn't even have pencils on it.

And I'm extremely curious to know what 30 Grade 3 children are going to do with a box of Ziplock bags this year.

I know there are kids who arrive at school on the first day who don't know the joys of new school supplies and I am happy to help them experience this same excitement. But if that's the case, tell me.

Equally annoying is the need to request specific brands of school supplies. There is always a note pointing out that after years of testing, the mentioned brands have proven to be the best, but why is one type of marker or crayon recommended in one grade and another brand the next year?

I suspect the teachers aren't aware of the lists, haven't been kept up-to-date on changes or brand recommendations and just make the best with whatever arrives on the first day of school.

Perhaps it's time they give the lists a quick review, just to make sure they really do make the grade.

4 comments:

Beth Johnston said...

When I was in grade three or four (many years ago) the rural schools were offering an art program wqith real art teachers visiting regularly. My parents spent twenty dolloars or more for each of us and we never used most of the stuff. The "smarter" parents bought crayons, coloured pencils and construction paper and figured dthey would get the rest when they had to. The teacher came once I think and all the stuff was not used for its intended prupose. Some of it was hard to find too - and could only be bought at specialty stores. 35 years ago or so they were making silly lists - when will they ever learn that parents dont have money for these useless things. Many schools charge a supply fee and the school buys everything - very sensible! Some parents cant afford breakfast - where do they get this stuff?

Allison said...

I love the idea of the schools purchasing the supplies. We did that in kindergarten, but haven't since. It makes sense that buying bulk would be more cost efficient too.

Adrian said...

Wow amazing, but I tell you, Allison, I've just spent what feels like half a monthly salary on books for my two teenies, that just entered high-school, as you'd probably call it. When I started there (yes long time ago, too;-), everything was paid for by the state, but times are changin, just wonder what they do with the zipper bags, doggie bags with school lunch maybe? You could use them, couldnt you? And didnt really find the sept1 post you were recommending me, can you help? Cheers back from sunny slightly automnly Z├╝rich Adrian

Allison said...

I'll email that link to you, Adrian. I've found out the bags might be to bring home games that the teacher has made. Maybe if I didn't love summer so much, I would be happier to fill the school supply list?! Cheers - A