Back to school on a budget

We love when people contact us and have questions!  We were recently asked “Any advice or ideas for how to prep for school on a small budget?” Yes! Yes we do!  So without further delay:


  • Don’t go shopping until you get a list of supplies from the teacher.  Each class and each teacher require different supplies and tools.  Lots of supplies are actually provided by the school.  You should receive a list of items for your child to bring for themselves as well as donations needed for the whole class Remember, the whole class donations can be given later during the year. For example, wait until cold weather and buy tissues on sale to donate when runny nose season starts.  Don’t rush out and buy everything you think your child will need because you may end up spending more than necessary.
  • Back to school sales.  Staples, Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, Target, and many other stores have incredible back to school sales.  I have seen crayons, pencils, notebooks, and glue sticks for pennies!  Look at adds and listen for the best sales.
  • Reuse items from the previous year.  Lots of schools supplies are durable and can be used for a few years if not more.  Kids don’t need new pencil boxes and backpacks every single year.  Most backpacks are washable. If the backpack has no holes, toss it in the washer on the gentle cycle and be surprised at how much better it looks clean again. To convince your child to re-use an old back pack, add a small, inexpensive, clip on lip balm or hand sanitizer, etc to the zipper pull.  Take a look around your house and see what you can use again.
  • Go to thrift stores.  A thrift store is the perfect place to find great deals.  Yes, it takes more time and diligence, but you can save a great deal on clothes, shoes, backpacks, and more.  If you are willing to do some searching and invest some time you can save quite a bit.  Keep you eyes open for Goodwill’s  50% off everything Saturdays.
  • Ask your school about any programs and assistance they have available.Back to school  Many schools have help and programs you may not know about.  As a teacher, I was given a brand new backpack every year to pass along to a student in need.  My school also had a program that got brand new shoes for a number of students.  If money is extra tight make sure you explore the help that is out there and take advantage of the opportunities at your school or in your community.
  • Splurge on one item.  Discuss with your child what they think they need or want the most this year.  It may be a new pair of jeans, a backpack, sparkly pencils, or a Spiderman binder!  Let them be part of the decision making process then go get one really nice item that will get them ready for the school year.

Good luck!


Get your child ready for the first day of school


1)   Get back on a good schedule.  Summertime is glorious because you can stay up late and sleep in.  It’s easy to slip into a late to bed, late to raise schedule.  A week or so before school starts up again get them working back to their school schedule.  The first day can be a little nerve-wracking and a lack of sleep does not help with that!

2)   Help them get excited!  For most kids this is really easy.  Summer can feel long the last couple weeks and most kids are naturally ready to go back to school, be in a new class, meet new friends and connect with friends they have made in the past.  Simply talking about it will most likely get them excited and ready!  Share a story from when you were their age or in the grade they are about to start.  Tell them what you loved about their particular grade.

3)   Meet your teacher.  As far as I know, all schools have a time to go meet your new teacher.  Take your child and go meet their new teacher, see the classroom, find out who else is in their class, and get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the campus.  {Parents, don’t bombard your child’s teacher!  I understand that you may have concerns or issues that you want the teacher to know about, but I know how it feels to be on the teacher end.  If there is something you feel the teacher needs to know about your child, write her a note he/she can read later or set up a time to visit.  It’s overwhelming meeting 25+ new kids plus parents.  I got to the point where I would carry around a clipboard with all the kids’ names and would write notes, but even still it was a lot to take in.}  It’s a fun event and you and your child could even come up with a couple questions to ask the teacher.

4)   Talk about expectations.  Ask them what they think a good _________ grader would look, act, and sound like.  All teachers will go over expectations the first day (and then again the second, third, fourth, fifth day…) but it’s good for them to think about beforehand.  It’s also good for kids to hear similar ideas from a number of people.

5)   Talk about how to treat others.  Your child WILL be in a class with someone who is shy, someone who is mean, someone who is weird, someone who is different, and someone who doesn’t fit in easily.  Talk to them about being kind and friendly.  They do not need to be best friends with all those kids, but a little bit of kindness goes a long way!

6)   Build them up!  Remind them of why they are great and wonderful!  Point out their strengths!  Make them feel good about themselves.  A kid who feels great will perform well and rub off on those around them.

7)   Listen to their concerns, excitement, and fears.  Just like adults, kids need to feel like they are being heard.  Let them talk about how they are feeling.   You may not even need to say much.  A listening ear is priceless.  It also opens the door for future communication and conversations about school.

8)   Help them set goals.  Talk about what they feel their academic strengths and weaknesses are.  Then talk about educational goals they could set for the month, quarter, semester, or year.  Keep checking in throughout the year.  Kids improve like crazy when they feel accountable and responsible for their learning.

Good luck on the coming school year!