There is something so delicious about back-to-school. Yes, it’s about fresh beginnings and fall leaves, but could it have something to do with all that shopping? I mean, how cool is it to get for your first homework assignment a list of stuff to buy?
However, with the average family spending around $600 on back-to-school, August can get a little heavy. My kids are not in the laptop-buying stage (and we get all our clothes from our cousins), but we are certainly in the market for paper and pencils.
Of course we could use coupons, deals, and sales to cut our spending, but here are some ways we have saved even more. The cherry on top? I get to transmit valuable lessons to my kids at the same time.
1. Be the Party Type
Kids learn about socializing, generosity, and making friends from their parents. They’ll also notice when you think of something fun and earth-friendly such as a school supply swap.
Why not call up friends for a back-to-school picnic or grill-out? Ask everyone to bring a dish, plus any schoolish supplies they have lying around. Designate a table or blanket for people to leave supplies they don’t need and take what they do.
2. Use What You Have
I’m the first to think of JoAnn’s when my kids want to do a craft project from a Martha Stewart book, but last time my daughter put me to shame when she said, “Don’t we have this stuff?”
Kids may love shopping as much as we do, but they will also surprise you at how much they love being resourceful.
So just as we had everything we needed to make the beaded flowers, we also had much of what we needed for third grade. With 5 million pencils in the house, my daughter happily selected and sharpened 12 of them, and placed them in her pencil box for the first day of school.
Using what you have is also a great way to cut down on clutter at home.
3. Cooperate with Others
Americans are known for their rugged individualism, but there is a lot to love about the way other cultures band together to help each other out.
Could you get together with friends to score a good deal on school supplies? Meghan Hammond, a teacher in Cape Cod, Mass., gets two-pocket folders for one cent by coordinating with other teachers. Since she has to buy 100 to get the deal, she pools funds and everyone wins.
What about offering to pick up supplies for a friend who is overwhelmed with work, a new baby, or an illness in the family? Helping others in need sets a tone in your community, and maybe when you need help, someone will be there for you.
4. Demonstrate Resourcefulness
Instead of tossing unattractive folders or half-used notebooks, show your kids how they can make them pretty and useful again. For example, ask your children to haul out the craft supplies and get to work covering up company logos, torn parts, or irrelevant info. Use stickers, glitter, or even photographs applied with a glossy coat of clear packing tape.
Showing children that it’s important to you to keep usable stuff out of the trash mound will impart a much more powerful message than just telling them. And using your creativity to make it fun will impress them even more.
5. Respect the Well-Made
Instead of teaching your kids that they get something new every year, notes Donna Freedman of Get Rich Slowly, teach them the satisfaction of taking care of what they have.
There is beauty in well-made products. Character-decorated gear is meant to be a passing fad, not something that can be used for a whole elementary school career or passed down from sister to brother.
If this idea appeals to you, look for age- and gender-neutral backpacks and lunch boxes. We, along with a few celebrities, love the ones by Dante Beatrix.
The back-to-school time of year is one big teachable moment. Our children’s teachers will get their turn soon. Now is a great time for we parents to share what is important to us.
Read more of my posts!
Check out our picks for backpacks to get your kids in back-to-school mode!
Crayon image credits: laffy4k
Check out these Eco-Friendly Products for Kids to go along with the green tips you just learned about!