Opinion Column

Quit complaining about your child's school supplies list

By Bianca Bujan

“There’s a lady out there who wants to teach my daughter about history, and she wants a yellow binder to do it? I’m a get that b---- a yellow binder.”

- Video excerpt from a post on the Bored Teachers Facebook Page

It’s back to school time and Facebook is blowing up with memes, videos, and whiny posts about the school supplies lists that are pestering parents as September approaches. And as I peruse the mandatory list of glue sticks, markers, and duotangs that fill the page of items to be purchased, I too am put off by the dizzying descriptions of the items that my child needs to bring to the first day of school.

It’s a tedious task, but I certainly don’t expect my child’s teacher to dole out the dough for the classroom necessities.

I have teacher friends who have had to purchase photocopy paper using their own earnings, and many teachers end up spending hundreds of dollars on classroom supplies per year, in addition to the tools that we provide. You would never see employees buying paper and pens for their peers out of their own pockets in a corporate office environment, so why are teachers expected to cough up the cash for classroom consumables?

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $688 per child, for a total of $29.5 billion this year - an eight per cent increase from last year’s $27.3 billion.

While school supplies seem to be the most scorned back-to-school purchase by parents, the much-needed pencils, paper and portfolios don’t top the list of items that consumers are purchasing most for back to school - with clothing, electronics and shoes taking the top spots. In fact, of the average $688 spend per child, only $115 is allocated to school supplies, yet we complain about these purchases the most?

Many parents are unhappy about the kleenex boxes, ziploc bags, and excessive number of pencils that top the list, put off by the fact that some of the purchased items might be shared in the classroom.

I’m happy to spend a few extra dollars if it means ensuring that each student is well equipped for the school year that lies ahead, and if my child comes home with 5 unused tubes of jumbo glue sticks - so be it. I’ll save them for the following year or donate them to a school in need of extra supplies.

Quit complaining and recognize the back-to-school season for what it really is: the most wonderful time of the year! Stop crying about the minimal costs associated with stocking up, and buy the damn kleenex for the kids.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter and Instagram. Comments: bitsofbee@yahoo.ca.