Believe it or not, i’s back to school season already. For parents, that means buying everything your kids needs for another successful year, including the dreaded list of school supplies that lands in your email every August. While the internet debate rages on about personal vs. communal school supplies, many teachers just want parents to understand one thing: keeping things simple and consistent helps their kids learn most effectively and makes teachers’ jobs easier.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Enter any Target or Walmart in the country, and you get assaulted with way too many choices than you can even comprehend when it comes to picking out the right eraser or binder. And some of the pricier, flashier, and more personalized items seem better than the basics.
Well, one kindergarten teacher is here to save us all. Known as @smilessamy70 on TikTok, the veteran teacher of 15 years has compiled her experience and knowledge into a single video that outlines what teachers really want when it comes to school supplies and what they absolutely hate to see.
She takes us to the store to play a huge game of school supply “this or that” — and some of her insights might surprise you. And many of them will save parents money.
First up: erasers. She give a big thumb’s down to scented erasers, erasers that are shaped like things, and those pointy erasers that fit on top of pencils: “They fall off — and kids eat them,” she explains matter-of-factly. She gives “100% yes” to plain, square, run-of-the-mill erasers.
Next up: pencil cases. She says “no” to all sorts of cute and fancy picks (that are also expensive, at $6-$8 dollars).
“You’re just basically giving them a toy,” she says about a pop-it fidget toy pencil case.
The right answer is a simple clear plastic box that is also the most economic choice. It even comes in a couple of different colors so kids get a bit of a choice.
“Ninety-seven cents,” she says. “Let them pick their color!”
For pencils, she once again rejects anything with colors, patterns, or gimmicks. The ones she picks are a 24-pack of plain yellow No. 2 pencils that are, “sharpened and ready to go!”
For binders, it’s the same deal. While you “want them to be expressive,” this is neither the time nor place. A simple solid binder is what you are looking for. And they’re the cheapest anyway.
She also take a moment to address the topic of community school supplies.
“Many people do community supplies. And if you have an opinion on that, and haven’t been in a classroom with 20, 25 students with all their supplies, then shhhhhh,” she says with humor. “Just kidding, no disrespect,” she adds with a smile.
One area where she does want parents to spend just a tiny bit extra? Crayons, markers, and paints.
Skip all the strange colors, scented options, and other novelties for the plain old crayon box of regular shades. But: spend an extra few dimes and get the Crayola brand instead of anything else.
“Please spend the ten cents,” she says. Pointing at a different brand she says, “These will break, the colors are confusing. Crayola will last your child, spend the extra ten cents.”
“And if you want to spoil your teacher, YES,” she says to a 24 pack of Crayola “Colors of the World” crayons that offer kids a way to color a variety of skin tones.
Next on the list are comp books. You can either pay $2 or $3 for a branded or patterned composition notebook, or you can pay 50 cents for a plain one — and that’s the one the teacher wants anyway!
Finally, if they need a whiteboard and eraser, don’t get the ones that are meant to stick on the fridge. Just a plain one, with lines for practicing writing and nothing on the back, will do.
“And I just saved you two bucks,” she says.
The bottom line? Back to school supply shopping is not the time to go overboard or get personal. It’s a time to get your teacher the tools she needs to teach your kids, and all of the rest of the kids in the classroom.