My children will return to school in late August. This year I wanted to avoid being the last minute shopper trying to find school supplies amongst a limited number of picked over items.
So I stood with three supply lists in hand staring at four aisles of school supplies at a large box store. Lucky me.
Some of the items on the lists struck me as completely unnecessary. For example, how many second grade students do you think would actually use four dozen pencils over the course of a school year? That’s one pencil every 3.75 days.
Some of the items on the lists struck me because of the rigidity of the demand. Two yellow highlighters and two blue highlighters. Of course each pack I looked at in the store had two yellow and one blue. Did I really have to purchase two packs and end up with extras I didn’t need? Or is purple close enough to blue?
Some of the items seemed to be necessary for organization. One list required six different colored two pocket folders. I wondered about the child who has trouble keeping track of one folder, let alone six.
And yet, I walked out of the store having purchased most of the required items. I often wonder how many of these items are truly necessary and how many purchased school supply items go unused throughout the year.
If you will be greeting students back to your classroom any time soon, I’ll ask you to think critically about your school supply list. Are the items absolutely necessary? Are there students in your class who will feel embarrassed because they don’t have the means to purchase everything on the list? Will students really need 48 pencils throughout the year? Is my list too rigid to support students in what they need? Is it all truly required or more of a suggestion?
It’s time that we start thinking critically about all that we do, especially those supply lists.