37 answers

The Kindergarten "Preparedness List"

I enrolled my daughter up for kindergarten and the school handed me a "list" of things to bring to openhouse night. Seriously, $64 worth of stuff for her, with a note that added "please label ONLY the scissors, pencil box and mat." Can they actually tell us what to bring and who else will be using my daughter's stuff if I shouldn't label all of it hers? The whole paper gave me a bad taste in my mouth!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks so much to everyone that responded. My eyes are truly open to the public school system ways now. Like I mentioned, my daughter will be going to kindergarten, thus my first experience with it. I was unaware of how little the funding is and how much teachers go through to get these kids learning. I really appreciate all of you who were simply to the point and said,"just get what you can". This list was so long, and asked for brand-name supplies. These brand-names I don't even use in my own house because of our budget. I definitely am volunteering in her class, just as I always have and now that my eyes have been opened I will help buying extras throughout the year. Thanks again Moms!

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My son started public school two years ago. He is going into 2nd grade and my daughter is starting Kindergarten. All I can tell you is it has been this way for a long time and many people complain about it but it is unlikely to change.
As I understand it, part of it has to do with not embarrassing children who parents can't afford supplies. I think part of it is a storage issue as well. It is easier for the kids to get pencils, paper and glue sticks from a central location than to store everyone's separately.
I decided to pick my battles and this is not one of them so I grin and bear it. I think that as they get into the upper grades more of the stuff you buy stays "theirs".
Hang in there.

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I hae to say I agree with you. My sons pre K list is ALL general classroom use supplies, NOTHING for him personaly to use. I think it is a lot to ask parents to supply dry erase markers, copy paper, and other sanitizer sprays for the teachers use.

The whole class will be using it. Sometimes they put a few crayons in a community box, which they share, as well as other school supplies. If you need to know, ask the teacher. Some places ask for copy paper, toilet paper, hand soap, even cleaning supplies. Welcome to the school system.

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Ok, so I read through all the responses first before I decided to post. I am an elementary school teacher and a mom of two. Some people had very good points and some were just very angry. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. Teachers have valid points as to why they ask for what they do and parents have valid points as to why they can't buy it all. You can find a compromise - don't be angry, schedule a time to talk to the teacher. Most are VERY willing to work things out and explain their points to you. I can only speak for myself, as I know everyone does things differently.

Personally, I have to pay for daycare for my two children in order to return to work. They both have late birthdays so will pay an extra year for both. For example, I will pay $190 per week for my daughter. Sounds like a lot, but when you break it down by hour and consider there are only 4 children in her class per teacher, not so much. A hot breakfast and lunch, as well as a snack are provided. I need to feel she is in a safe place. Plus, her place follows a school calendar and uses themes each week. Even the infants participate in arts and crafts as soon as they can sit up and make things with assistance - maybe fingerpaint. When I look at all she does in a week, then the $190 isn't so much. I understand times are tough right now and so people are tightening their purse strings. We all do what we have to when tough times arise. You're probably thinking that I should just stay home. Would if I could, even though I am paying all that $$ for daycare, I am the one who provides our families health insurance. My husband is self employed and can't get the coverage we have for the amount I can - even with all the other expenses.

I have been at three types of schools during my career. Each year there is a list compiled for supplies - as stated earlier, these are to help the teacher, help your children to learn to their maximum potential. Yes, we get supply money to spend, but it has to be through the catalog. I know I have $150 to spend for 18 children for a whole year. In that $$ I have to purchase copy paper, as I have to copy a lot of my curriculum. That is one way that cutbacks were made - not enough books for each student. A case of paper, even with the discount, is $35. I really only copy just what I need and I still need two cases per year = $70 from my $150. I also have to purchase laminating film and that is about $35 for a roll. So you see, though $150 sounds like a lot, it doesn't go as far as I would like. And yes, for those moms who say they aren't paying for that stuff, it is used for your children.
I do hit sales for items myself - I try to buy sets of items for those who can't - that is $ that comes from my personal pocket and away from my own children. Teachers have jobs that are pretty safe from the recession, however, we are not getting rich by any means. We usually teach because we like the job, not the money, but we all have families too that we provide for.
I know in my class that I collect supplies because I use a lot of them in community tubs. If all children put ALL of their supplies in their desk at the beginning of the year, by January most of it is gone. Plus, what child isn't tempted to play with all their supplies when they get them - new pencils always need sharpening, etc. :>) I have taken supplies simply to save them for the child, so the parent isn't buying more later, because the children are so preoccupied with playing with them. I know not all children are that way, but remember, you have one or two at home, we have a class full that we are responsible for and are trying our best to meet the needs of ALL of them.
I really am saddened by the tone of most of the posts you have gotten. As parents, you are your children's first teacher, we come second. Wouldn't it be in your child's best interest if we could ALL work TOGETHER to provide the best for your child instead of all this anger and accusations ? I'm not pointing fingers at anyone specifically, but some parents do feel that the teacher should handle a lot more responsibilities than we do. We only have them a short amount of time during the day. For example, I never used to, but now I have to teach manners as far as hand washing, blowing noses, covering mouths, etc. Things that are basic manners and should really come from the home. For example, I know that teachers ask for kleenex because of how MANY children use at once. Yes, we want them to have the supplies, but my class of 18 went through an entire box of 200 BEFORE lunch time! THus, we had a lesson about using a tissue and blowing our nose. I'm really not trying to complain, I do love my job. I just wish that parents could spend just ONE WHOLE day in a classroom to get a better understanding of what goes on. Then see if their is a way to work together with the teacher.
I will say that I thought the price of your list was excessive. Did you shop for sales ? Most people don't realize that as it gets closer to school starting, the prices will go down. OR stores will pick certain items one week for a sale and different ones the next week. Yes, it's a pain to make multiple trips but if you really want to save.......A lot of teachers I know do it.
Please, talk to your child's teacher. If you really can't afford the list, ask what is essential for the first week or so. See if you can slowly send in items as you can afford them. Like it or not, children can be mean. They will make fun of those who don't have or who have different. I know in life not everyone has the same, but it can be really hard when you are only 5 years old to accept being different.
I'm sorry for going on and on. Like another mom stated, I too, want what's best for my own children as well as those in my class that become like my children for the year I teach them. No one is perfect, everyone can tell a negative story, please try to find a positive and middle ground that works for you, your child, and the teacher. I know, there are some "dooozies" out there - it happens in all jobs. Try to give this teacher a chance until he/she gives you reason to feel otherwise.
On a side note, magnet schools can offer good opportunities. At the elementary age, Kindergarten is usually not part of the program, but the children receive the same benefits if the school is all magnet. Magnet programs usually start at first grade.

Best of luck to you! Hope you have a pleasant year and can find some middle ground for your concerns.

4 moms found this helpful

As a teacher, I can tell you that the main reason we don't want labels is it is way too time consuming for a kid to find their own things and to keep track of them. Also, some of our papers the kids need a specific color for. For example, color all the math problems that add up to 3 red, color all the 4's blue, etc. What if you child has lost a color or two? You'd end up with her asking you to buy her new crayons. If we share it doesn't matter if one kid (and it could be YOURS) lost blue. I get 100 dollars for the year for supplies but that also has to cover copy paper, construction paper, paint, dry erase markers, plus "office supplies" like tape, staples, rubber bands, paper clips, pens, etc that we do not ask parents for. I usually start watching the sales about now and stocking up for the kids who can't purchase their own supplies. This I pay for out of my own pocket since our supply money does not come through until school starts and all the good sales are now. Staples and Office Depot will even have items for 1 cent. This week was notebook paper for a penny at Staples. Keep your eye on the ads.

Also, some things would just be hard not to share. I don't have room for 20 separate boxes of tissues in the room.

We are also teaching the kids about sharing and waiting their turn if 2 or more kids need to use the glue, they learn to cooperate.

If you can't afford the supplies, send what you can. I plan on and always end up subsidizing in my classroom so anything you CAN send is a help.

I am really saddened by most of the responses you have received so far. Teachers typically ask for what they need and use to be able to teach. It's not like we ask for the stuff to sell on some school supply black market or to stock up some mystery cabinet of stuff to keep from the kids.
Also, there ARE kids whose parents truly can't afford supplies and personally I don't think the kids should suffer because of this. I buy extra every year for kids who don't have supplies. It is sad that I seem to be alone in this way of thinking!!!!!

3 moms found this helpful

Welcome to school! They can't make you bring the stuff in, but because parents bring the items they do, the children have the supplies they need. The items labeled with your childs name will stay with your child, the other items usually go into general supply.

Last year when my grandaughter walked into her new class, the pencils, crayons, etc were already at her desk. She enrolled after orientation and was not able to bring the supplies until the first day. The supplies she brought were put into general supply for replenishment during the year.

In this economy consider yourself lucky you can provide these things for your child, and think of the parents who can't. Most of all, bless the teachers who have to pay for these supplies out of their own pockets when the parents can't/don't, as the schools provide none/very few of these supplies.

My now five year old daughter is in ESE classes, her first year the supplies were $125 for pre-K! I grumbled at home, but after spending a little time in her class and seeing what else they needed I went and bought other items to donate. I did the same thing her second year of pre-K, and I anticipate I will do the same for this year despite the fact we are financially stressed. How much is enriching your child's education worth to you?

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The preparedness list is handed out to help the teacher, help your daughter, learn to her maximum potential. Unfortunately even though you pay taxes to send your child to school the budget does not include enough. A teacher spends approximately $500- $1000 out of their own pockets ( which are not overflowing) to help equip the students to learn with the tools they need. Especially in kindergarten it is as important as learning to read and write to function in a social environment which includes learning to share supplies as well as build community in the classroom. The sharing of supplies is one way that kindergarten teachers create a loving, nurturing community in their classrooms. When there is an attitude of "this is our classroom and everything in it belongs to all of us" it helps to create a community of responsibility and care. The teacher usually doles out the supplies as he/she teachers the students to correctly use these instruments and restocks as they become low. The teacher also uses specific supplies to reinforce different skills in the classroom. I know you see it as a burden but it is all to enhance your child's learning experience and help the teacher who only wants to help your child grow and learn in a safe friendly environment.

2 moms found this helpful

I have 4 children and the oldest two are in school. The younger two are still home this year, but we'll be starting kindergarten next year with my 3rd. I understand your frustration, but I know so many teachers that spend loads of their own money on supplies for their classrooms. All those little paper cut-outs on the walls that make class visually stimulating. Art supplies. Even painting their own classrooms and fixing their own desks and chalkboards. They spend a lot of time as well. They're there early in the morning to late in the evening and then they bring work home so they don't fall behind. Parents providing supplies for the classroom to run just takes a little bit of burden off of their backs. As the other moms said, look for sales. There are lots of stores offering buy one get one free or even get two free. Penny sales, etc. You can stock up for well under $64 and buy those kinds of things when they're super cheap, store them in a little closet in your house so you'll have a jump start on the next year.
You can choose to be upset about the situation or you can see it as you helping out multiple people in the process. Teachers, the parents of children who can't afford supplies, etc. Go with a happy heart and watch the transformations that great teachers can have on a child. It's totally worth the cost of school supplies!

2 moms found this helpful

I know how you feel. When my girls were little and we moved here from Michigan the first thing I got was the dreaded list. I was in shock. In Michigan they don't even ask for pencils. At least at that time they didn't. I ate soup for two weeks to be able to fill the things on the lists. I thought well this is for my daughters futures so I have to do it. Two weeks later my youngest daughter came home with another list. Again I did without to fill the list. Finally I got mad and asked her where her stuff was going. She said they are learning to share. About that time the older one came home with another big list. I went to the school to find out what was going on with all this stuff. Come to find out a lot of the parents do not fill the needs on the list. That is why the list is so extensive. And the part that really made me mad was it wasn't the ones that couldn't afford to do it not doing it. It was the ones with money that were not filling the list. I found this out because my daughter pointed out the children she had to share with. I confronted some of the Moms at the PTA meeting. I mean I was not nice about it at all. I basically ended up yelling at them about how cheap and thoughtless they were. Here I was a single Mom struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over my daughters heads and they were loaded and just didn't take the time to fill the lists.
One Mom felt so guilty she ended up paying all the others childrens fees for the classroom trip.
So I say NO if you can't afford to fill the list just tell the teacher you can't do it all. Get what your childs name goes on and maybe a couple other things on the list. Teachers go over board on these lists. A lot of the stores give teachers discounts for school supplies. It would make more since for them to ask for money and use their discount. Also everything they purchase for classroom use is tax free. Do what you feel it right. As for me I always filled the list even though I couldn't afford to.
ALSO I HOPE ALL YOU MOM'S READ WHAT I AM GOING TO WRITE NEXT;
There are a lot of children that go to school in need of good clothing, shoes, etc...I took everything my daughters out grew to the school. Everything was handed out as needed to needy students. And not only that they use these clothes for children that have accidents while at school instead of them having to call the parents and send them home. At Christmas time is a great time to donate dress clothes. Christmas dresses, little boys suit coats, etc....
And shoes that they have out grown that are still in pretty good shape. You would be surprised at how many children need these things and the school makes sure they go to the students that need them most....
Some schools will even take educational toys...

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Hi there,
I am a mother of three AND a teacher. I will have to buy supplies for each of my children's classrooms and my own. I teach in a low income neighborhood and we are not allowed the luxury of asking our parents for supplies. We do get a stipend at the beginning of the year but I have to use mine for copies and laminating throughout the year... maybe I have enough left over for a couple of packs of construction paper or scissors for the class. I teach 3-5 year olds and it is too bad when we do not have enough supplies. Sometimes I have just one pack of markers for a table of 6 kids and when 3 of them want to use red it is an issue and even worse if the cap of the red marker was not closed properly and now is dried out. I personally have to invest my money into the classroom to update my centers (math, reading, writing, science, dress up, blocks, kitchen - it is not fun to play in the science area when there is nothing there)... all you mommies, if all of this aggravates you as much as you all say, I say don't punish the teachers, tell your government to properly fund our schools! We have a right to "free" public education for our children and as you can see, it is not free. Other ways that a parent can help is "silent" fundraisers such as soup labels and box tops for education (every little bit helps!) Get together with another parent and write a grant for your child's class. If you know someone that has a successful business, and you can get them to adopt your child’s classroom (it is a tax write off for them) the school will advertise the business's support in some way and you will not have to feel as though you have to donate as much.
Sorry C. to be on my soap box but as a mommy AND a teacher, I want the best for all of my children and without the support of everyone, the government will keep wasting our money and continue to take it away from our schools. To me, it takes money away from my family, hurts my effectiveness as a teacher and is just plain sad.

2 moms found this helpful

I was a public school teacher so I know how little money we get for supplies and how much we spend out of our own pockets... so I can sympathize.... However, as a parent, I figured out several years ago what to do about supplies for my own kids. I take a look at the list that's given and I decide which things I will and will not be buying. For example, if it says 2 sets of markers, I know that means one set is for my child's pencil box and the other goes to the supply closet, so I just buy one set. I have my child open the boxes of pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc and put them into his/her pencil box. Actually, most years my kids had crayons and colored pencils left over in their pencil box from the year before so I just buy fresh markers and pencils. If it says to buy several packs of paper, I send them with one pack and keep the rest at home. I do stock up on some supplies while the sales are good, but I keep them at home in MY storage closet. If my own kids need fresh supplies throughout the year, they can take from OUR supply closet. On the other hand, any time the teacher needs supplies, I will send them in occasionally because I do know there are families who truely can not afford to buy supplies for their kids. In lower income areas, the schools often get tons of donations from various charities and people in the community, but at an average school in an average community like the one we live in, lower income families are often over looked for assistance, mainly because the parents are too embarassed to ask for help. ANYWAY... sorry to go on and on... Decide what you WANT to buy from the list and don't feel like you need to drop $64 all at once. I never buy the wipes or ziplock baggies or other extras on the list, but I buy extra boxes of tissues for my son's class because he has allergies and I know he uses a lot.

You can either watch the sales and spend way less than $64 and stock up your own closet now (seriously, glue is 2 for a dollar at Publix right now, but closer to the start of school, Target will have it for TEN for a dollar!).... or you can wait until the meet-the-teacher day and find out what your child's teacher's priorities are and just buy those items for the start of the year. The list is often compiled by a group of teachers or one lead teacher so it may not be everything your own child's teacher really cares about.

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