Best and worst back-to-school purchases
GreatSchools readers list the best and worst back-to-school purchases they've ever made.
By GreatSchools Staff
What do a thermos, a dictionary, and a quality backpack have in common? They topped your lists of most valuable back-to-school buys. What's on the "do not buy" list? Cheap pencil sharpeners and binders too bulky to fit in a backpack.
Thanks to the readers who shared their ideas to help the rest of us with back-to-school shopping!
Best back-to-school buys
Mom Christine Lates writes: "The most valuable thing I bought last year for my daughter was a thermos. My daughter was tired of eating sandwiches everyday, and she would sneak out to buy lunch. I asked what meals she liked when she bought lunch, and all of them were better than a sandwich. Out I went to buy a thermos, and the whole world of lunch was revived — I made macaroni and cheese, pasta with spaghetti sauce, pizza, hot dogs, and soup!"
"The best school supply we purchased was a dictionary that we taught our children how to use," writes HJ Wellington, a Florida mother of a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old. The next most useful? "A synonyms books (easier to use than a thesaurus)."
"A Land's End backpack! It held up the whole year. I washed it in the machine, and the kids can use it again next year. I let the kids pick out the colors and even get initials if they want — it is actually my son's third year with his. I got tired of buying 2-3 bags every year!"
Another parent agrees that spending a little more money pays off: "A good backpack that he doesn't love as much but should last longer than the cheap ones we had been buying."
"Last year we bought my high school freshman son a Vans backpack ($50)," another parent writes. "He had a heavy course load with massive text books. He is taking it again this sophomore year in perfect condition — great buy."
Another parent sends a reminder that a good backpack is a health issue: "Most valuable school item: proper-fitting backpack."
"The best and one of the most valuable purchases I made for school last year was a sectioned pencil box," one parent writes. "I bought the regular plastic crayon and pencil box, plus a sectioned pencil box. I believe I'll have my girls use it again this year if I can't find a new one. It's almost a must have."
Just for kindergarten
"The most used item was the NapMat. I would definitely buy two mats if you find a good deal at the beginning of the year. At the end of last year we had to replace the scraggly, dog-eared original with a sleeping bag for the last few weeks. It would have been wise to just replace it with a fresh clean one for our child to sleep with direct contact everyday."
"Used, in great shape, and he can have it for the rest of his life," a parent writes.
"My children are going into kindergarten and second grade and are still required to bring in crayons," writes Susan, a New York mother of two daughters, 5 and 6. "I find that the twist-up crayons (editor's note: This is the kind of crayon that can be advanced as needed by just twisting the cap at the base of the pen barrel). The traditional crayons are a broken pile of flat-ended nubs by the middle of the year. Also, I always buy them plastic folders, as opposed to the paper ones or even the plastic-coated paper ones, because the flexible plastic ones stand up to a beating for the whole school year."