Back-To-School Supplies: To Buy or Not To Buy?

That was the question on a recent local Facebook group chat about school supplies. One mom wanted to see who buys exactly what is on the school-supplies list, including the quantities requested. At last check, nearly 80 people had commented. I opened the conversation to see what people were saying… even teachers were weighing in, which had me rethinking my entire school-supply strategy.

My son is going into second grade. I have always purchased everything on the school-provided supply list — until now. Honestly, it never crossed my mind to do otherwise. I would never expect the teacher to cover our supplies, even if it did take me four different stores to find that darn composition book with wide-ruled lines on half the page (you know which one I’m talking about, don’t you?)! Thank you, Office Depot.

As I read on, it turns out the majority of people said they wait to get the teacher’s list or ask at orientation, rather than go by the printed school-supply list. Some Target stores even make it easy and provide many area school lists nearby the supplies in case you forget to bring yours. Many said they would prefer to provide a gift card at the start of the school year so the school or teacher could take advantage of buying in bulk at better prices — meaning more kids could benefit and less teachers would have to pay out of their own pocket since we already know they are underpaid. Not to mention the time saved not having to battle the back-to-school crowds all reaching for the same folders and pencils.

I decided to ask two of my teacher friends what their position is. One said so many parents are great about sending in extras, so she has a closet full of supplies for those kids who don’t bring any in for whatever reason.

“We always run out of glue sticks and crayons, but I have a million folders and tissues by the end of the year. And I NEVER use spiral notebooks, but other teachers in my same grade use them all the time,” one friend said.

She also says teachers can’t let a good sale go by without stocking up on a few deals like 25-cent crayons, so gift cards could still come in handy throughout the year. “Teachers should provide their own lists (and some do) because each teacher is their own,” she added.

My other friend shared similar sentiments about the topic. “Gift cards would be amazing, so we can fit the needs of every student, but we can’t ask or expect that from parents.” Two things this teacher doesn’t include on her customized list are pencil pouches and notebooks with designs on them because students can get easily distracted when using them. (Makes sense!)

I guess I have Facebook to thank for my new school-supply plan of attack. I’m going to take it from my two friends and the many moms who posted on this Facebook group and wait for orientation with the teacher to find out exactly what my son needs for school. I know one thing for sure, I’ll be starting my shopping spree at Office Depot this year if that hard-to-find composition book is back on the list.

What’s your school-supply strategy?

Looking for more Back to Resources and supply lists? Check out our Back to School Guide for Jacksonville Moms! Don’t forget about your First Day of School sign! Get your First Day of School Printable Here!


First Day of School Printables

Kerry Schicker
Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.


  1. As target attempts to compete with amazon, some school lists are on target online so you can order a whole lust with on click. No going on the scagenger hubt for all the items. San jose elemenyary was included but dupont junior high was not. Come on schools get those lists in. Help us all out.

  2. EduKit, 1st Day School Supplies, SchoolKidz and other services enable teacher’s to develop customized kit lists for their classrooms that parents can buy online in one click. Kits are delivered to school ready for the first day. Not only is time saved for everyone involved, but parents and schools can take advantage of better pricing by buying in bulk. In addition, at my son’s school, there was an option to buy an extra kit or extra supplies listed for students in need. These services seem to address many of the concerns and needs listed in the article.

  3. My husband and I are both teachers. Every year I would purchase all of the items on the school supply list for my son, and the teachers would send majority of it back home. The teachers stated that they don’t use majority of the items on the school supply list. Therefore, I don’t purchase items until the teachers tell me what he really needs during orientation, or I would send an email to his teachers once it has been finalized who they are. I got tired of spending over a hundred dollars for supplies to sit at home.


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