Ten tips for smart back-to-school shopping
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Best back-to-school gifts
Your grandparents might have brought an apple to the teacher on the first day of school. Jane Ann Robertson, Arizona's 2004 Teacher of the Year, has a more timely suggestion: "If you really want to make a good impression, add a packet of stickers or a ream of colored copy paper for your child's new teacher."
Nikki Salvatico, Pennsylvania's 2005 Teacher of the Year, adds that the key to helping your child succeed in school is not something you can buy at your local office supply store. It's time — time spent reading stories, rhymes, poems, and plays with your kids. And it's being a role model for the behavior you want to see in your child.
"Parents spending time with their children — modeling reading, writing daily — is priceless," Salvatico says. "When children see a parent reading the newspaper, a magazine, or a good book or writing a letter, a paper, or a report for work, they can connect why they are learning [those skills] in school."
By GreatSchools Staff
Get your kids into the recycling habit.
Now that environmentally friendly living is a hot topic, it's easier than it used to be to convince trend-savvy kids that reusing an item is cooler than buying a new one. Help them add pizzazz to last year's plain notebook with stickers or photos. Set up a scrap paper bin so that paper with writing on just one side can be reused. Check out garage sales, which can be a source of good-quality used items.
Watch for promotions.
Some discount office supply stores offer free shipping on online orders. Local health departments in some areas offer free basic school supplies to parents who bring their children in for immunizations. Hang on to flyers and ads that advertise supplies at a particular price. If the store where you're shopping charges more, ask the sales clerks to match its competitor. Some stores that don't offer price matching will still do it.
Figure out when quality counts.
Leaky pens will cost you more in ruined clothes than some more expensive varieties. In the event that a strap or zipper breaks, a backpack with a warranty might be a good investment, even if it costs more.
"When buying crayons, colored pencils, markers and water color paints, I would definitely stick to a name brand," says Robertson. "Name brands seem to last longer."
Not every costly item will last as long as you'd like. Take calculators, for example. Math teachers advise that you not purchase one with more functions than your child will use so that she learns and uses those functions. But as she advances in math, your middle school or high school student will likely need to replace her scientific calculator with a graphing one, and these are costly.
Some schools have graphing calculators that students can check out, like library books. And some parent organizations raise funds to help defray the cost of calculators for needy students. Check with your parent group to find out more about similar programs at your school.