Why Can't Parents LABEL Kids School Supplies?

Updated on July 29, 2013
B.H. asks from Burnsville, MN
12 answers

I have been bothered by this for 2 years now. I never asked her teacher and should have but I figure I can ask on here and see if anyone knows.

At my daughter's school it says not to Label any school supplies for kindergarten and first grade. After those grades it's fine to label.

I sorta understood kindergarten, they were at tables and had 1 basket on each table and shared. Ok that was fine.

In first grade they have their own desks. And are suppose to be more independant and all of that so I really really don't understand.

It irritates me because last year we got everything off of the list and my daughter picked out mostly girl colors and whatever we could that didn't give out specific colors like her folder was pink her scizzors etc. She came home with her permanent take home folder and it was orange..yuck so another lucky child got my daughter's pink one.

I've been avoiding school shopping because of this, I know it sounds lame and all but I have issues with spending money I really don't have when it's not going directly to my child. My daugher needs a pencil box for instance that should be fun to go pick out and personalize with a favorite color but who knows which lucky kid will get it.

Maybe there are some teachers on here who could explain to me why we can't label so I won't feel so stingy on this matter. I will admidt I am very stingy, I am a single mother to one child and have to worry about her first before I can worry about other people's kids. I have always gotten her whatever she NEEDS and have made sacrifices when needed, I just don't like the idea of handing over $40 dollars worth of supplies to the class.

I'm very tempted to just label away anyways...

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So What Happened?

Wow, you guys made me feel alot better I was thinking I was sounding really selfish but it is MY money and MY kid. I never thought of labeling the bigger stuff, I will do just that. I'm not fretting over crayons or pencils it really was just the bigger stuff. I remember going school shopping every year and being so excited and labeling all of my stuff and organizing it 50x and rearraning it.

I don't understand why school supplies need to be shared, if everyone has everything they need in their desk there shouldn't be a problem, if that kid runs our of brown before the end of the year that's his problem lesson learned mom will have to buy more. Plus regardless of age kids put things in their mouths, I have a habit of putting pens in my mouth isn't that spreading germs>?

I was asked to buy specific brands like crayola etc... it's not like I wanted my daughter to have better stuff than the other kids I just don't feel like everything has to be communal sharing. Everyone knows darn well that there are kids who won't bring ANYTHING why should we sacrifice and share? And I don't want hear how they might not have the money cause there are programs out there to help.

Maybe I am undermining the teacher but why is teachers way the best way and the only way. This is my child I should have the ability to make choices in how my money is spent on school supplies is handeled. My job is to send my child to school prepared to learn and with the proper clothing attire and the supplies she needs. It's the teachers job to teach. Last year my friend had bought everything her daughter needed at school for communal sharing only to find out several of the kids didn't bring anything and is wasn't because of financial reasons either. Now if it wasn't communal sharing those kids would have been without for a few days and realized they needed to get their own stuff. These are teenagers I'm talking about.

And I don't always have a good attitude with the school systems. They do whatever they want to do and don't listen to us parents. My kindergartener was expected to walk herself to school last year, next to the woods, on a unlit street, with no sidewalks and cross a busy street. Going to the school board,principal,etc.. did no good. Now she's a first grader and still suppose to walk herself to school it's just feet from being a 1 mile walk. I could go on and on main point they don't always have the best interests for our children. It's MY child, I gave birth to her and I know what's best for my child. I'm appreciative for teacher's etc., but they sometimes meddle to much.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think it would be easier if it were stated in the list before you bought anything whether or not the items were being shared. Last year there was no mention of sharing and so we picked out specific colors....and all the stuff was shared. I would (and I think most parents) would go about it differently if you knew ahead of time. I am all for helping out other families and would use it as a teaching/learning experience with my daughter and would probably buy extra for the classroom.

It made me mad that the school wasn't forthcoming with the information and I felt like I was being taken for a ride.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I was a teacher and always wanted non-labeled school supplies because we used community supplies (in grades 1-3!). When we asked for pencil boxes, we would have 10 or so filled with markers only. If kids wanted to use markers, they would grab a box to use, then return it to the community supplies area. So, no "lucky kid" was getting someone else's stuff, it was all shared.
This works well for younger kids for quite a few reasons. First, it teaches children respect for the materials. We must take care of the materials because everyone has to use them. Kids feel the pressure from their community to take care of the materials (good peer pressure). That way, Johnny can't say, "Well it's my eraser and I can destroy it if I want to," and then have no eraser for the remainder of the year. Also, 10 sets of community markers can be replenished when they wear out (becasue the teacher will have the other 20 sets in storage). Each child having their own markers means that when the brown runs out, your child has no brown. With colored and regular pencils, teachers or students can sharpen pencils for the whole class at a designated time, rather than students constantly being distracted by sharpening and or waiting for other kids to sharpen pencils. Community materials don't get lost in someone's desk. No one fights over the pretty princess pencil. Kids also don't get distracted by the mirade of materials in their desk (playing with materials). Also, parents are more likely to buy plain old materials rather than flashy ones when they know their child won't end up with what they buy. School materials are for doing work at school. Learning should be the fun part, not flashy materials. Fancy pencil sharpeners and such just distract kids. As for folders, I always separated the colors and made folders for each purpose the same color. For example, everyone's "take home folder" was orange. That way, kids that maybe don't read so well don't have trouble figuring out which one is the "take home" and which is the math folder. Finally, materials always lasted longer when they were community. A child might start out the year with 100 pencils and they would be gone mid-year. Then what? Using community supplies, the teacher can keep the stock and monitor the community supplies. If the class is running out of pencils before they should be used up, maybe we need to clean our class, move all the furniture and find pencils! Or, maybe we need talk about where all of our pencils are going. Should a pencil leave the classroom? Also, kids know more about what their peers are doing than the teacher does. If kids are made responsible for the community materials, they start to talk to their friends that are destroying or taking materials out of the room because they need those materials too. Good lessons in responsibilty and living in a community.
After a few years of this kind of situation, many 2nd, 3rd, or 4th graders are much more appreciative and understanding of what it takes to have their own school supplies. They have been a part of a classroom where everything has a place and during clean-up time we put things back in those places so we can all find them. Often this transfers to their own materials. They make a place in their desk for their pencils and make sure pencils make it back there so that they can find them later. Or, they utilize down times to sharpen all their pencils so that they always have a sharp on ready.
Now, it doesn't always work this way exactly, but those are the reasons I used community materials. My suggestion would be to buy the plainest, cheapest materials you can find. That's probably what the teacher would prefer anyway! Allow her to personalize through the clothes that she wears, or a folder with stickers after she recieves "her" folder for the year. Remember, school isn't about being flashy. It's about learning and expressing your personality in ways that don't make folks that can't afford it feel at a loss. Hopefully her teacher will be a good one who encourages children to express their personality and help decorate their environment at school through arts, crafts, and writings! Hope this helps and best of luck in the new school year!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have to say that I agree with you about being OK that the pencils, markers, glue, etc. are "communal" items, but I am going to go ahead and label some items anyway. Her folders, scissors, and notebooks were picked out especially for her, and I am not OK with them being used to supply another kid. I don't mean to sound greedy, but I don't make a lot of money (I know for a fact that her teacher makes more than I do!) and am careful about what I pick out for my daughter. I choose items I want HER to have so that they will last as long as possible. Also, its not like she is ever going to see these many of these things again when the school year is over, so what happened to the supplies from previous years? Does the teacher keep a cache of new items to put out when the old ones get used/destroyed? My daughter is about to start kindergarten, and I am already dreading it.



answers from Minneapolis on

It seems like a good idea to start out school with an attitude of support, cooperation and respect for the teacher's methods so your child will learn to do the same. By labelling when you've been asked not to, I would think you're underminding the teacher and showing your child that its OK to do that too. Maybe if you buy the off-brand for the school supplies, you'll have leftover money to buy a few special items she can keep at home to use for homework. Or pick out a bag or coat or something that is the color or character that she wants and that can be specifically hers. Sounds like a difficult situation, good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi B.,
I am also mom to Briauna 6 (just dif spelling)I always label the big items like folder notebook and pencil box too, she has specific taste and it's my money. Other items that will be shared with the class i dont fret over and maybe dont buy the name brand crayola, it saves money and I'm able to purchase double the amount of things and then donate the excess to her class. I would say if she picked out the items personally then put her name on it. It's like buying that special backpack and then going to school and someother kids gets to use it for the rest of the year, not fair. So I label=) Hope that helps



answers from Minneapolis on

Sorry that is happening to you. Maybe you could bring it up to the school that the kids should label everything. Our school has us label everything except the kleenex that gets put in the class pile.



answers from Minneapolis on

I really think you need to ask the teacher. They probably are having an open house this week and you could do it there. Many schools use something called "Responsive Classroom" and it is part of the routine that school supplies are shared. That may be why you are asked not to label. There may be a classroom section for materials where students are learning to care for the "classroom" materials.
However, some things might be staying in her desk, such as her pencil box. Just ask. I understand your desire to make sure your daughter has what you buy her--it isn't stingy! You pay for it, you want to get the value out of it. But remember, they are trying to teach kids to be responsible community members---so buy things that are less fancy and probably cost less, and teach your daughter about how all community members contribute to the betterment of the whole! (there are a lot of kids out there that don't bring any materials--and it isn't their fault--so your supplies are likely being shared by non-paying families as well)
In many schools, this no label thing goes all the way through 5th grade, so be prepared for that as well.
I don't know the specifics of your school, but I am sure the teacher would be willing to explain it and he/she won't think anything negative about your question.
I hope this was of some help.
K. D.



answers from Philadelphia on

As a teacher, I am so happy you asked this question. I am a second grade teacher and ask my class to share community supplies. I do this because it really helps to build community in my classroom. Working in a district where half of the students come in with the required supplies, and half do not, it allows some students to feel more comfortable walking into the new school year. I, as well as the district supply many other materials for the classroom. However, I only have my students share crayons, markers, glue, scissors, dry erase markers, and erasers. They supply their own notebook and I supply a homework folder(everyone receives the same folder). We spend alot of time on how to treat the supplies, how we can use them, and where and how we will store them.

Sharing materials in the classroom eliminates competition and allows students to feel as though they are able to use anything in the classroom. It also eliminates fidgeting within their desks. I used this policy last year and had an extraordinary outcome. Having a wide array of abilities and personalities in my classroom, every student worked together, shared and felt at home in the classroom. Of course there is much more that goes into this environment than sharing, but it became a large part of the classroom.

I also let the students and parents know that if they do not want to contribute their supplies to the classroom, they are welcome to take them home. I explain in my "Welcome Back" letter that we will be sharing and why we will do so. I understand that many parents cannot afford to contribute and may not feel comfortable doing so. In turn, I supply alot and then ask for anyone who can or is willing to contribute to the classroom.

I can understand your hesitations, and encourage you to discuss it with the teacher before buying supplies. I have found it an overall positive experience in my classroom! Good Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I know it seems like your daughter may not be getting the benifits of the school supplies since they are all pooled together, but she still is. Unfortunately with our schools budgets parents are asked to buy more items for the class then when we were younger. If nobody bought the supplies none of the kids would have pencils, crayons, markers etc. to use in the class room. Young kids tend to share many things and having everything labled would make it hard on the teacher to try to make sure that each kid recived their exact marker back etc. It's still nice to pick out "fun" things because it give the kids a variety to choose from. Just think of how much fun it would be for all the kids to see a Hannah Montana themed pencil etc.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have been told before as well not to label items so I only label the big items like pencil box, folder notebook etc... and left the crayons, pencil, glue, scissors etc... but at least they could pick out the color/character they wanted on the large items they are not sharing with the class. This is not a guarantee your teacher will obey this but this is what i have done in the past and i have gotten a coment or two about it but i explained this is what they wanted and it helps they know and feel like it is theirs and no one said anything after that. I hope this helps for you



answers from Minneapolis on

I am a second grade teacher and we ask kids not to label any supplies that will be shared. The items they keep for themself include backpack, crayons, folders, notebooks, and scissors. Last year was the first year we had shared supplies and I was prepared for the kids to freak out. They were told they could keep one special pencil in their desk and either share the rest or take them home. Same for the kids who brought the pack of 60 markers when the request was for 8! I was happily surprised that only one child brought her supplies home; the rest of the class shared, even without advanced notice.This is a part of Responsive Classroom and I love it. I work at a private school where the families tend to be wealthy and the one-up-manship can get crazy. This way, the kids all shared markers, glue, rulers, etc. It was the parents who had a hard time with it, not the kids. I know shopping for supplies is fun, so if she wants something special maybe get it and keep it at home. Just an idea.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi B.-
All schools are different. As a first grade teacher, all my kids are asked to label all their items before the first day of school. They are to purchase only the items on the list. I'm very specific about the list. And they keep their things. A lot of schools do not do it this way.

You can help yourself by figuring out if your daughter's list says it will shared with the class. If the list doesn't say, call your school and ask to speak to any first grade teacher and ask the question. Ask what will be shared and what won't be shared. Then purchase only the colors and items on the list. But purchase a few fun items for your daughter to keep at home for her school work and things. This is a great compromise. My son's been happy with the compromise.

Hope this helps. First grade will be a blast. It's the best! Good luck!!


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