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Friday, August 7, 2009

Back-to-School Shopping

By Tracy S, Charlotte Smarty Pants

Don't forget that this weekend is Tax-Free weekend in NC. There are some great deals out there - especially for back-to-school shopping. We loved Tracy's post with all her helpful hints and Smarty advice. Like she mentions below, for some of you, this topic may be "old school" but for others (like me) I am just now learning the ropes. So if you have any other ideas to add, please do so in the comments below! - KM

Ok - I’m going to go old school for a minute and flash back to the 80’s when my mom would declare that one particular Sunday in August as “School Shopping” day and we would pour over the morning paper … you know how the Sunday version include a whole host of flyers and coupons … and map out our day based on where the best sales where. I LOVED the thrill of hitting the local Kmart (looooonnng before the days of Tar-get and even Walmart) and stocking up on everything we needed for the new school year. The excitement and anticipation was almost more than I could bear!!

Fast forward 30 years and imagine my excitement as I now get to live it all over again through the eyes of my son who is getting ready to start Kindergarten in a few weeks! Our designated “school shopping” day was last Sunday, and while the circulars in the local newspaper was replaced with online ads, the anticipation was all the same - at least for me anyway. Jake didn’t quite know what to expect at first - to him it was just another trip to Target. But, once we started exploring the isles of folders, markers, and pencils, he quickly got into it!

Now for some Smarty advice:

A very dear friend of mine helped clue me in before we set off on our trek. As a new kindergartner mom, I apparently had a lot to learn. For you veterans out there, this info might seem trivial, but PLEASE take this opportunity to help us newbies out and post some helpful comments of your own.

* Each school has a specific list of school supplies required for each grade level. These lists are posted on the sites for Forsyth County, Guilford County and Randolph County school web sites, or you may also find printed lists at major retailers such as Target or Walmart. Translation: Don't go all willy-nilly stocking up on everything you think your child might need. Recessionize and stick to the list!

* Be advised that for early grades (K, 1st grade), the school supplies your child brings actually end up as community supplies for the entire class. This was a HUGE eye opener for me. So make sure your little one does not get too attached to the red folder or a particular brand of pencils, because he may not end up with the same ones he came with! On that note, you may want to be mindful on whether or not you invest in the best of the best …

* Pay attention to the specific items on the list … otherwise you may find yourself back at Target for the “right” supply.

* Stock up while supplies are on sale. The lists I’ve seen are very specific down to the brand and number of each item needed. However, you might be surprised that some children may not be able to fill that list on their own, so extras are always welcome if you can. Also, come January or February, markers dry out and crayons wear down so teachers may come back with new requests. This would be a great time to pull those extra supplies you bought on sale out of your closet to send into school rather than paying full price to replenish.

* Create your own school supply bucket at home. This will surely come in handy for homework projects throughout the year. Things to consider: rulers, markers, glue, pencils and a good sharpener.

* Make sure they have a good backpack to tote things back and forth. (Stay tuned for a great write-up on Smarty backpack recommendations by Charlotte Smarty Pants' Jen P. We are running her blog on Sunday. All her picks come from catalogues so you won't be able to get the tax-free perk anyway!)

* We hit both Staples and Target. I had heard Staples had better deals, but actually found their prices to be fairly comparable (I think we missed Staples' big sale by a week!) I thought Target was much easier to navigate, however the one bonus I found at Staples was their "teacher supplies" section. It wasn't with all the other school supplies, but I found some great things to keep at home, such as the special lined paper lower grade students learn to write one. I thought this would be perfect to help Jake practice at home as he's learning to write new words. They also had flash cards, fun workbooks, etc.

Most importantly have fun with it! This is truly an exciting time as your child gets ready to embark on a new school year … whether they are first timers or it’s old hat. Jake and I made a huge ordeal and I got so tickled when we called home after we were done and he could not wait to tell daddy about his new pencil sharpener! To hear the excitement in his voice was priceless, and brought me right back to memories of my own childhood!

Please share your tips on school supply shopping - where to find the best deals, easiest stores to navigate (we preferred Target on both accounts), or just plain advice!

Don't forget to register for your chance to win one Floor Nanny with a complimentary slip cover of your choice! All you have to do is click here to take a short survey and you’re registered. You must be a Triad Smarty Pants newsletter subscriber to enter, so be sure to sign up if you have yet to do so. This promotion ends at Noon on Thursday, August 13, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, August 16. Good luck!!


Anonymous said...

One more tip that goes along with the first thought: don't buy any kind of pencil boxes, pouches, etc that are not specifically asked for by the teacher. There is no where for the child to keep these items. Many little kids do not have desks (just tables), and the older ones who do have desks do not have room for these extra items because of all their books.

Summer said...

Target does have great deals!! My husband and I use them to stock up our classrooms every year. I would also recommend trying KAPLAN in Clemmons, it is a teacher supply store and has an "outlet" room in the back that usually has great deals.

It is easy to get caught up in the "stuff" of a new school year but the most important thing you can do for your new kindergartner is help them get into a routine. Have a place for them to hang and unpack their backpack everyday. Teach them to remove, unpack and rinse their lunchbox items. Have them sort through the papers that come home. And most importantly, create an environment that has the materials they need already gathered together, to begin their homework. There won't be much homework, but kindergarten is a perfect opportunity to make a great habit.

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