We are now coming closer to summer being a thing of the past and the hustle of getting kids dressed, lunches packed, homework done etc as our present! As a parent of two school-aged children I find the time leading up to ‘back-to-school’ stressful as I am worrying about what they need, how much they need and making sure my purchases are not always grabbing what is cheapest but making smart purchases.
When I mention smart purchases I simply mean purchasing good quality items that may not be the cheapest but will last my girls the whole school year granting they don’t misplace or lose it. I personally have done the cheap route before and have found myself mid-school year buying new runners because the cheap ones have ripped, picking up new backpacks because the zippers have broken beyond repair on the “cheap” choice and so on.
Like most of you, I love spending the least amount of money when it comes to everyday items such as food, health products and household cleaners. I do find however that investing properly and making wise choices when it comes to things that we want to last is more frugal in the long run. After all, purchasing multiples of the same item that if I just spent an extra $10.00 wouldn’t have happened isn’t my idea of frugal.
Below I am going to list what I feel any school-aged child ‘NEEDS’ for school, items such as paper, binders, markers and such are provided by primary schools to children for the most part in grades JK – Grade 5 and are not necessary. Of course having those items in your home for homework and school projects is a must, but as parents I am sure we have more than enough crayons, markers, papers etc that we do not need to go out and purchase new ones.
Back to School Must Haves:
Have your child try on their jeans and tops to see what does and does not fit. I always make sure my children have at least 7 pairs of pants, 7 t-shirts, 7 long sleeve tops, 3 sweaters, 10 pairs of underwear and socks as well as 2-4 dresses for girls. I also like to ensure my children have at least 2 pairs of shoes, one running shoe and one pair of dress shoes for when they wear fancier clothing.
If your children attend a school where uniforms are the attire I suggest checking out thrift stores like Once Upon A Child, online used sites like Kijiji.ca and VarageSale as well as Old Navy if you have no luck finding some gently used. I have noticed Old Navy has had some great sales on kid’s school uniforms as of late!
This is one thing you do not want to cheap out on as I find cheaper no-name backpacks tend to rip and zippers break before the school year is over. Also you want to ensure your choice of backpack fits your child’s needs as well as their body. There is nothing worse than seeing a little Kindergarten student with a massive backpack on that is down to the back of their knees.
Having a great lunch bag and one that is sturdy is a must. I personally splurged on my kids lunch bags but they have lasted us 2 school years thus far and are still in perfect condition. We use the Packit lunch bags and I buy our bags on Amazon.ca. Sometimes you can also find them for a great price at Winners but it is hit or miss if they have them in stock.
Reusable Water Bottle
Every child needs one of these filled with fresh cold refreshing water to take along to school each day. This also allows them to refill throughout the day when they are thirsty keeping their lips away from fountains that can harbor germs getting them sick. I have tried dollar store bottles and find while cheap they break or leak easily.
I am at ease knowing that they are less likely to get sick from drinking at the school fountain since I can’t be there to ensure their lips do not touch!
Running Shoes/Rain Boots
We all know that fall can tend to be rainy so I felt the need to also include rain boots. Your child will be on their feet a lot during the school day and having a good quality pair of running shoes will save you money in the long run.
As a parent nothing irks me more than spending money only to have the product fail our needs. I highly recommend splurging on a proper, good quality pair of running shoes as this is what your child will spend most of their day wearing.
A nice waterproof fall jacket is a must for our children. In the morning it will most likely be chilly before the warmth of the afternoon sun hits so be sure to put this on your list!
Even though I know my grade-aged children do not ‘need’ to bring crayons, markers, pencils etc to school as their classroom always has these items I do always make sure my kids have a pencil-case. This is just in case they feel the need to take some supplies from our home to school with them. Hailee tends to use hers for make-up, my little fashionista!
For me this is one thing I do not splurge on and purchase at my local dollar store as the amount of use it actually gets never seems to cause any breakage during the school year. I will note to steer away from plastic cases/boxes as they will break much more quickly than a fabric typed case.
I send with my children a box of tissue to place on their desk once per month, more if they tell me they are out. This is something you will want to have in your stockpile, Shoppers Drug Mart often has their Life Brand boxes go on sale for $0.59 each which works out to $3.54 for 6 boxes. I generally stock up during those sales to ensure we have lots on hand to get us through until they go on sale again.
This is another must-have for back to school and throughout the school year. I try to drill it into my children, keeping their hands free from germs will not only help them stay healthier but also their classmates. No one wants to be that parent who sent their child to school not knowing they were coming down with the flu only to have their child blow their nose, not sanitize their hands, and then pass it along to their classmates. Having your child place a bottle of this on their desk will remind them to keep their hands clean, especially since we are not there to remind them!
I really like the The Germinator Alcohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer for my kids!
If your child does not already have their own Library card I highly suggest getting them one. This will allow them to learn responsibility by bringing their books back on time and give them the opportunity to borrow books for class projects or for leisure to keep their brains active!
If heading to your local Library be sure to take with you your child’s ID and a piece of mail showing your address – I made this mistake once and had to go back.
Each child will have different needs and you as a parent may want to send all that jazz of pencils, crayons, etc. The above is only a helpful guide of what I think is essential for grade school children. I can’t even count how much money I have saved by not purchasing items that I know are provided to my child in school and by purchasing good quality items instead of trying to cut corners for a few dollars savings!
Some grades (JK and SK) often have the teacher asking each parent to ‘donate’ certain items to the classroom, for those items I suggest shopping at your local dollar store to save on money.