Back to School Icon

Teacher Tips For Back To School Shopping

Ah, the mixed emotions of back-to-school time. While you may be excited that the kids are soon returning to school, you’re probably less enthused about the back-to-school shopping you need to do first.


Here are some tips, from my experiences as a teacher and a mom, to make the process a little bit easier – and cheaper!

Take your time, save your money. If you’re lucky, you have a list from your child’s teacher or school. If so, stick to it – and don’t let your child convince you that she “needs” any other supplies. If you aren’t provided with a list before the school year starts, stick to the basics and wait for further instructions. I know how hard that can be when you just want to get things done (believe me, I’m a champion list-crosser-offer) but you can easily overspend if you use advertising (or pleading offspring) as your guide.

Shop your house first. Once you have a list, have the kids go through their bedrooms and common areas to see what they can find. Did they really use up last year’s pencil crayons? What about all the fancy erasers they have collected in a drawer? Rulers are pretty durable, so why buy a new one? I plan to do this with my girls again this year, as it was a huge help last August.

Consider convenience (especially for little hands). Stick with standard pencils (not the novelty designs, which often don’t sharpen properly) and keep some at home so you don’t end up using a Sharpie for homework. I always request that kids have a pencil sharpener with a cover to keep at their desks, which eliminates lines at the classroom sharpener. (A University of Arizona study showed that to be one of the germiest places in the classroom, which may give you more motivation to provide your child with a sharpener of his own.) Also make sure that your child is able to put on her shoes and open lunch and snack containers independently.

Remember, smaller is better. Classroom storage is limited, especially in the kids’ desks, so keep things small-scale (e.g. no marker packs that are a metre long, or large binders, unless requested). Soft pencil cases tuck nicely into desks much more easily than hard ones (my girls use roomy zip-up makeup bags from the dollar store), and personal items like Kleenex packets and hand sanitizer (scent-free, of course) need to be travel-sized so they can be put away to keep the desktop clear.


Whose glue is that, anyway? Label everything. Please.

Clothes call. While not an academic purchase, a huge amount of back-to-school money is spent on children’s apparel. Indoor shoes should be non-marking, and remember that flip flops and party shoes aren’t great for outdoor activities, so it’s best to have running shoes for inside and out – until boots season arrives, of course, which will be all too soon! As for clothing, I let my girls each select and purchase a new outfit for the first day of school (to be kept nice for fall photos), and other than that they wear items they already have, until the seasons change and we assess what they need. By this time fall clothing is on sale, saving us more money.

As much as I love my holidays, I’m eagerly awaiting the group of sweet little ones who will be entrusted to me very soon…no matter what school supplies they may or may not come armed with.

Find an Oxford Learning® Location Near You!

We Have Over 100 Centres Across Canada!
Contact A Location