Back to school: What do you really need?

by Jane Wangersky | August 31st, 2010 | Kids' Shopping

There’s no avoiding back-to-school shopping, even for homeschoolers — so let’s see how to make it as simple and effective as possible.

School supplies are the most important item, of course (yes, I know the kids think it’s clothes — we’ll get to them later). You may have been given a list of things your child supposedly needs. See how much of it you already have — after all, it’s rare for a student to wear out a geometry set in a year. Old folders and binders can be used until they fall apart, and you probably have some looseleaf paper left.

The year we raised my son’s allowance and told him to buy his own supplies from now on, he found that — ta da! — he already had everything he needed. If your child’s not old enough for this, give him/her a set amount of money to buy supplies, saying he/she can keep any money that’s left over. This turns kids suddenly frugal.

Your child probably also has a list of clothes he/she supposedly needs. If he/she’s starting at a new school, however, the list is likely not realistic. Try to persuade kids to wear neutral outfits, like jeans and tee shirts, until they get a feel for what others are wearing. The jeans and tees can still be new, of course. When you’re ready to shop for the other new clothes, there’ll be more on sale.

Lunches are one area where it’s good to splurge — though you may not have to. Lots of the fancier lunch items go on sale this time of year. If not, get some anyway, to ease your child’s transition back to school.

And that’s what it’s all about — transition with ease.

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