Differences between the Netherlands and America when it comes to school supplies.
Last schoolyear was the first schoolyear for my oldest that we had to buy all the school supplies, so I am already a bit used to the terms that are on there. If you move from another country to America, you probably don't know all the terms that are on there, and it will take you even longer to find all the items. Just ask for help in the store!
We never, ever had to buy our own school supplies in the Netherlands. Boy, how easy was that the first schoolday, you just had to bring your child, his fruit and lunch! The school took care of all the supplies, the teachers ordered them the year before, after they did research on what was still left in their classroom. The janitor sorted out all the items the teachers needed, ordered them and put a box full with all the supplies in my classroom (I used to be a teacher).
Sometimes not everything was on time or there were some mistakes, but we always figured that out. Oh, and schools payed for the supplies as well. When I, as a teacher, needed new supplies, I asked the janitor. There was a small warehouse, to which he owned the key (so children and teachers couldn't just shop for themselves). Our janitor always did his best to re-use things and he ordered new items if necessary. But hey, we choose to live in the States, so we have to deal with this!
I do wonder what happens to all the items that are left at school? I just can't imagine that in one schoolyear children in Kindergarten use 18 glue sticks?! Some items my son got back home, but I will not send him to school with already used stuff. Some things might be reusable, but usually not for my son. But I still think a lot of items must have remained after a schoolyear, of course I could be totally wrong about this. I do hope if there are items that remain, that school gives them to charity or something.
The shopping part
Last Friday and today we went out to get the school supplies for the new schoolyear. I have got two sons, one goes to fulltime Kindergarten and the other one to 4th grade.
On the list of my youngest son are 19 different items that he needs. From some of that 19 things he needs more than one.
On the list of my oldest son are 25 different items that he needs. He also needs more than one thing from a lot of those 25 things.
I have to say, the first step went smooth! I found the School Supply List within 5 minutes! I think that's pretty quick after about 8 weeks of summer vacation.
We went to Walmart, because what can I say, it is cheap, closeby and I know the shop very well. I always do my weekly groceries there.
Walmart had school supplies lists in the store.(Target too). I haven't really checked them out, I must admit, because I had my own list with me. But if you can't find the list, it's there!
The part of the store with school supplies looked very messy, but hey that's what you get when you want to shop cheap.
So, I was standing there with my list, but without a pen to cross of what we had found. GRRRR... Don't forget your pen / marker / lipstick or whatever you can use to cross items of your list.
I think next year I will go and do the shopping part alone, but I wanted to involve them in this. They will use these supplies, not me! I thought they could help me, but the truth was that they weren't really in the mood for shopping (are they ever?) and it took me much longer with them. It didn't really help that I felt a little bit stressed, because I don't like shopping either, and I certainly don't like buying school supplies.
In the beginning they were helping me, but that didn't really last long. After a few minutes they were playing a game in the store, that wasn't really store proof, so I had to stop them. And again. They know they will get one warning and then it's over, so after my first warning I spoke sternly to them. I told them that I didn't enjoy shopping either and that if they wanted to have school supplies, they'd better help me. That worked. They helped me, in their best way. (I noticed that a lot of kids were whining and behaving annoying, maybe the 6 weeks vacation in the Netherlands weren't all that bad. I think the almost 3 months here are way too long...and there already keeps coming up a discussion in the Netherlands that those 6 weeks are way to long too. I must admit that I really enjoy the 3 months, especially with my youngest going to fulltime Kindergarten. I am saying goodbye to a lot of fun things in these 3 months. I am a stay at home mom, I can't imagine how families with 2 working parents struggle through these weeks. Why do children have 3 months off here?)
I wasn't the only mother there. There were a lot of other moms trying to find the school supplies for their children. I haven't seen any dads, by the way, but it was a weekday. I hope they all were working their ass off at work, because those mothers (and me) definitely were!
Some moms tried to be very patient, and asked their kids 'Do you want a blue or black pen?' 'I don't know'. 'You have to choose'. 'I don't know, which one would work better?' 'They both work fine'. 'I think I like blue better, or maybe black...my friends will pick blue I think. What do you think mom?' etc. At the end, the mother just threw a pen in the cart and sighed. I never even asked my boys which color the wanted, I just took the blue ones.
I couldn't find the '3-prong, 2-pocket poly folders' that my youngest needed in 4 colors. I had no clue what 'prong' or 'poly' meant. Maybe I should have google translated the supplies list, before I went to the store. But my son found them, in 3 colors. No yellow! I sighed. Then another mom was looking for the same items. She couldn't find the yellow one either. I heard her say, sighing: 'We will just buy an orange one, and I will write 'yellow' on it'. Her daughter didn't respond to this. There were more items we couldn't find, so I knew we had to go to another store as well.
I think the whole school supplies shopping costed us about an hour. When we got home, we still had to sort out all the items in two different bags for both sons. My oldest one began calculating what all the school supplies had cost us in total. He came to me and said: 'Wow, everything together it's almost 100 bucks.' And we still hadn't bought everything. (I am still wondering how people that live on foodstamps buy all of this?)
Today we went to Target for the rest. I must admit it was less messy than it was at Walmart, but also much more expensive. (for comparison a box of 24 crayons at Walmart was $0,25 and at Target $1,99).
Before school ended this year, there were signs near the school that said I could buy school supplies online. I never really looked at that option, because I had forgotten how the shopping part was the year before, and because I thought that would be much more expensive than shopping myself.
So, for all the moms that still have to do their school supplies shopping, you can also order online if you haven't got a lot of time and enough money. (We could've payed it online too, but I still am the stingy Dutch woman, who rather spends less money if possible.)
I found some websites where you can order online:
For some of these websites, the school that your child goes to, has to set up an account before you can order there.
If your school didn't do that, you can always buy school supplies on other websites. But I do warn you, do the shoppings yourself is really cheaper. I have searched for the same article (Crayola Crayons, 24 pc) on all of the websites in this list, so you can see the difference in price (of course this is just one article):
- Walmart (Crayons: $2.29, in store: $0.25)
- Discount School Supply (Crayons: $1.99)
- Office Depot (Crayons: $2.29)
- Target (Crayons: $1.97, in store: $1.99)
Hopefully your school supplies shopping will go easier than mine.
I wish you happy (online?) shopping memories with or without your kid(s)...
And if you have helpful tips for me and all the other moms (and dads?), please post them below! Thanks!
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