Why Are School Supplies So Specific?

I thought this was a really Good Question the other night. But as I read, I got a little confused by the end of the article and about the whole “pooling of supplies.” But, I’ll get to that later.

Okay now. Is there anyone among us who doesn’t buy Crayola crayons??? Is there really any other kind? Okay I’ll come clean. I love crayons. I love to color. Heck, both my grown boys would still color if they walked into the room and I was coloring. I love new crayons and I LOVE the smell of them. Yes, I’m a back to school (crayon) supply whore. I LOVE NEW CRAYONS and new markers and new coloring books and new colored pencils…….I’m getting giddy just talking about new school supplies.

When I heard that teachers were recommending Crayola crayons, I immediately agreed. They are better crayons. They don’t glob. They shade and color dark well. The colors are more even and there’s not a lot of wax all over. Then they wanted Elmer’s glue. The teachers said it dries clearer and faster than other glue. The pencils they wanted were Ticonderoga because the lead is harder/firmer or whatever and it doesn’t snap off and break as easily. Also on the list were Fiskers scissors because they cut above and beyond better than any other scissors.

I know schools now are often asked to bring in those Clorox wipes and they have to keep records now of what kind of chemicals they use so for paperwork sake, I understand they want the same kind of wipes.

But it was at the very end of the story/article that it said “They want equal things so all the kids have the same thing” and “some schools pool their supplies, so they must have all the same brands.” Say what???

Why does everyone have to have the same stuff? I can remember hoping I’d have a few “different” folders and notebooks than everyone else and that not all of us had the same backpack. Now everyone has to have the same stuff?? Where’s our room for individuality???

AND THEN pooling supplies? Why should we have to do that? Why is it so hard for each person to get their own stuff? Why should everything have to be pooled together. I know I wouldn’t want to share my crayons. What if some kid breaks all their crayons and keep getting the new ones and I go a long time without breaking mine and when I need new ones they’re all gone??!!??!!??!! No, I don’t like that idea AT ALL.

Do you buy “name brand” school supplies? Or for in your home for that matter cause we all need crayons 🙂

Do you think all kids need to have the same supplies?

Would you be in favor of sending a bunch of stuff at the beginning of the year and “pool” them?

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26 Responses to Why Are School Supplies So Specific?

  1. Jason says:

    I think that if a school is going to make a list of what you have to have for the school year, down to the specific brand, then maybe they should just buy all the stuff and tell the parents they can give them the money. I sure if they told these companies they were going to use their product for the school they could get a bulk discount.

  2. Sue says:

    We had some specific things on the list, but ya know what, I’m going to buy what I want to buy whether it’s the name brand or not. I do think Elmer’s and Crayola are better brands so I buy those, but I’m not buying them because you told me to. I hate the idea of pooling supplies also b/c it reminds me I have to send snack to school for everyone else in the class. How about I worry about my kid and everyone else worries about their own kid? As far as everyone having the same supplies, I think that doesn’t matter as much as say the clothes do. Kids don’t tease you b/c you have a different pencil. They tease you b/c you don’t have the “right” clothes or brand or whatever. Not worrying about that would be nice for a change!

  3. Laura says:

    I love crayons, too. I have my own keep-your-cotton-pickin’-paws-off-it box. Sometimes I let Josh look at it if he’s nice to me.

    We had a pretty specific school list, too… Crayola Crayons (the other good brand is RoseArt… which are acceptable substitutes, but don’t have as many good colors as Crayola. Anything else is only good for Easter Eggs, ’cause crayola actually stinks for those, but that is a completely different topic), Elmer’s Glue, Fiskar’s Scissors (our stores don’t carry anything else, honestly). But our lists weren’t crazy long, either, so I don’t mind buying name brand stuff.

    His class does pool supplies, but only some. He had to bring two boxes of crayons. One box stayed in his own personal box, the other went to the Classroom Stash. I’m guessing that’s so that when someone accidentally eats their blue crayon, there are more available. But they start out with their own. Same with glue – one bottle in the box, the other two into the class bin for larger projects. Kleenex, wipes (any brand), and a few other things, into the bin. Folders and notebooks were kept for his own personal use, and could be any color/pattern as long as they met the parameters as far as size, wide-rule, etc.

    I guess I don’t have a big problem with the specification of brands, since I tend to buy the better stuff – I know it’s good and it’ll last. Buy cheap, get cheap. And the way our teacher does it, I don’t have a problem with the pooling of some supplies, either, since each kid starts out with his own and must take care of his own, and the other stuff is generally used when there’s a class-wide project going on.

    I may feel otherwise if everything was brought in, and EVERYTHING went into the community pot, and nothing was his. How do they learn responsibility for their own stuff that way?

  4. joanharvest says:

    I am a germaphobe. I know I would prefer my grand child to have her own supplies and not touch anyone else’s and maybe she should wear a mask and gloves and definitely carry anti bacterial wipes in her pocket. I guess I get carried away sometimes (Actually I am kinda serious. Maybe we can skip the mask and gloves.). I love art supplies. Sarah and I have a whole bureau filled with them. I think the crayons are Crayola. We have tons of construction paper and markers and glue. Seriously, we have tons of stuff. Now to get back to the question. I am tired of all children having to be exactly the same. Next they will have to wear uniforms and they will all have to have short hair or maybe no hair at all. They will all have to eat the same food because of allergies. This food will not be able to contain gluten, peanuts, wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, sugar, fructose, yeast, corn, animal protein, During the Holidays they will be given lists of all the words they can’t say including Christmas, Tree, Santa, red and green, Kwanzza, Hanukkah, elf, North Pole, Easter, egg. Why even have eggs, the kids can’t eat them. Maybe we should get rid of all chickens and eggs. OH dear, I could really keep going with this.

  5. SKL says:

    I can see both sides of the pooling issue. On the one hand, like “the tragedy of the commons,” nobody gives a damn about stuff that they don’t own, so a common box of crayons / glue is not going to remain useable for long. On the other hand, it could save money if the teachers just bought a bulk supply. For that matter, they could buy in bulk and then dole the crayons out to each kid. If it’s all going to be uniform, frankly that’s the only thing that makes sense.

    I would not feel constrained by the brand the school listed. What are they gonna do, give my kid a detention if he brings the wrong kind of glue? I dare them. I will buy what makes the most sense and tell my kid how I made my decision. Maybe I’ll end up with Crayola / Elmers, maybe not. In fact, chances are, I will have a stash from last year’s clearance sale, so that’s what my kids are gonna get. They can buy a few “special things” but not just because the teacher said so.

    No, I don’t believe all kids have to have the same stuff. How far can you take that, anyway? When I was a kid in a parochial school, most of my clothes were second-hand at best. I didn’t care one whit (and we didn’t wear uniforms). We got school supplies that were on sale. (However, my mom was nice enough that she didn’t buy those crappy crayons that don’t work, just because they were cheaper.) I had some stuff that was better than what my peers had: a sharp brain, a large and loving family, and the experiences that correspond with a very tight family budget. Was that fair? And, I knew that some of my classmates had nicer toys at home, big birthday parties, etc. How is pooling / sameness of supplies going to change that? If we lend importance to the “equality” of little things, I think we set an unhealthy standard for when kids have to deal with inequality of bigger things.

  6. Just a Mom says:

    OK I have a big problem with “pooling” class supplies. If the school wants all of the kids to have the same stuff and to share it all, then let the school go out and buy it! I buy for my kids only. I have had many arguments from teachers but I usually win. ‘m sorry the tax money I give to the school district should include the use of tissues and paper towels. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mind sending in something for a specific project but it is not my job to supply everybody!

    I do tend to buy the name brand stuff just because I don’t mind paying for quality.

    • Laura says:

      I find it interesting that the supplies lists that we receive are shorter and more reasonable than those of the public school.

      We get two lists – the first is the supplies that are required for him – the crayons, glue, scissors, etc. (some of which, yes, are pooled, but for class-wide projects, so time isn’t wasted on “that’s MY glue, no it’s MY glue!”), and the second is a classroom “wish list”, which includes things like Sidewalk Chalk, Kids CD’s (we made our own), Card Stock, Construction Paper, and the like. Everything on that second list is optional, and very much appreciated by the teachers.

      I never have a problem buying things off of the Wish List, because it’s a private school, and the requests are reasonable. I don’t think there was a single roll of toilet paper on there, by the way. I think I’d have a much bigger problem with it if he was attending a public school.

      • Just a Mom says:

        Laura I have the same thing with my youngest daughter who goes to a private Catholic School. We have the need list and the wish list. Unfortunately we can not afford private Catholic High School so my oldest has had the pleasure of the public education system.

  7. mssc54 says:

    Heaven forbid that one little girl or boy have their self esteem shattered because their classmate had brand name and they had off brand. OMg!

  8. SKL says:

    Ugh, this is reminding me of the crayons we had to use in KG. The teacher had all these boxes of eight fat, blunt, flat-on-one-side crayons, and she would pass them out when it was time to color. Now I don’t know about you, but I never could figure out how to color neatly with those nasty fat crayons, which, by the way, used to stick to the paper when you tried to lift them. I remember my KG teacher telling me I was “scribbling” because I changed directions so it would be easier to stay within the lines. (I was kinda sensitive and that really bothered me.) Why do people make 5-year-olds color with thick crayons (and laddie pencils) at school, when everyone knows they have been using the regular-sized stuff for years at home?

    • Laura says:

      I quit using those big fat things right after Josh got the hang of putting pencil to paper. We never used fat pencils, but I did let him have fat crayons for a short time. We quickly switched to those triangular crayons that Crayola now puts out. Those worked really well for him, because they allowed his fingers to sit naturally on the crayon without it rolling out. He could hold it more solidly. Once again, once he got the hang of it, we moved to regular crayons.

  9. Laura says:

    You know, (dang, I’m chatty this morning, aren’t I?) you guys are bringing up a really good point… perhaps next year, I’ll take the initiative with the other moms in his class and buy classroom supplies in bulk over the summer. We’re lucky enough to get our supply lists at the END of the year, so we have all summer to look for deals and prepare…

    Hitting Sam’s or Cosco for a case of glue really does make more sense than all of us buying two or three bottles each.

    • mssc54 says:

      Laura, just check for expiration date on any glues you purchase. Some glues may have a tendancy to dry out in the container. But then maybe you could use them for door stops! 🙂

    • SKL says:

      It might even be more cost effective to go to a supplier like Oriental Trading Company, which has very reasonable prices and offers everything in bulk quantities. For example, you can buy a big box with a bunch of crayons or markers, separated by color. It won’t work if you need like 48 different colors, but for a classroom bulk supply, it makes a lot of sense. Easy to pick back up, too. As far as quality, I don’t think it’s Crayola, but I’ve bought their crayons and such before and never had any issue with quality.

      I would definitely price compare before deciding on Costco, etc. A study showed that buying in bulk at those places actually averages higher prices than buying individually at regular stores (Wal-Mart, etc.).

      • Laura says:

        Thanks for the advice!! I’ll keep it in mind. We’ve got some pretty thrifty folks around here, so I’m sure we’ll be able to find stuff, maybe even go online. If we want Cosco, we’ll have to go to the BIG big city, because I don’t think there is one in Iowa, come to think of it. We’ve got a Sam’s down in Cedar Rapids, but otherwise, it’s either online or Walmart.

  10. starlaschat says:

    I think kids should bring their own supplies and the list should be short and sweat. TP should be provided by the school as well as well as cleaning suplies and wipes. Kids should be able to pick out what they want to use.

    We were at a Staples the other day Joy and I found myself looking around thinking Why is Joy in love with office products what am I missing. I slowly walked around and found some very cute things. I almost heard the angel sing. I will be keeping my eyes open when I am in the office product isle. :+)

    • Joy says:

      I love all that stuff. I have enough stick em notes to last my lifetime but I love looking at all the pretty colors and never leave without “something.” I also love writing utensils. I have enough pens, pencils, markers and crayons to share with the whole neighborhood. Except I’m not sharing them!!!! *greedy*evil* laugh*

  11. Nikki says:

    I believe this is the first year I haven’t had to buy crayons. I always bought Crayola. They color better, I can’t stand when crayons leave wax all over the place. BUT I do buy the cheap ones for Lily, she’s 2 and breaks them so I buy the cheapest ones.

    I love all the cool different supplies they come out with, but rarely are they allowed in school. The bend-ables, the twist crayons. All the cool designer folders, I was happy to see they have Aerosmith, Bob Marley…oldies but goodies! I’d like to think kids these days know who they are!

    The only specific name brand they asked for this year is Elmers glue. I always buy Fiskers scissors, I think they cut better. Thankfully Jasons work is always stocked up on pens, markers, highlighters, ect. so we saved a lot of money right there. Thank you, Appliance Smart! 🙂

    The only items they asked for, for pooling together was kleenex, hand sanitizer, and bleach free wipes. I don’t mind that. I wouldn’t want all the supplies pooled together though. Like Joy said, what if one kid breaks all the crayons, and continues breaking them. My kid has to use broken crayons, or replace them…I don’t think so!

    We are big colorers here too….we still sit down all of us and color sometimes. Which reminds me I need new coloring books!

  12. SKL says:

    I’m beginning to wonder if it’s odd that I haven’t had the desire to “color” in a very long time.

  13. SKL says:

    What do you all think about hand sanitizers being required in school? Personally I don’t want my kids using hand sanitizer, unless we just got done using a filthy porta-potty with no water, or touching a dead animal, or something really gross. For normal kids, the usual school dirt/germs are helpful for them to develop immunity. So it bugs me that they could be forced against their parents’ better judgment to “sanitize” all the time.

    A while back, the school switched to a soap that gave my kid a rash, and she wasn’t the only one. I asked them if they could switch back, and they said no, unless a lot more kids got the rash. I then asked if my kid could wash her hands with water only, and they said no. If I wanted to supply soap for my kid, I was welcome to do so. I decided to teach my kid to use less soap, and that seemed to do the trick. But I wasn’t too pleased to know that they would force her to use a known skin allergen unless & until I provided a different soap. Hand sanitizer is an irritant as well as a poison, so I really balk at seeing it on a “required supplies” list.

    • Nikki says:

      This is the first year Baileys class has asked for that. We’ll see, because he gets sick EVERY single September, never fails. Most kids do, they go all summer being outside, then get jammed into a closed classroom with 20-25 other kids. I don’t know if it’ll help or not, but I am anxious to see! I agree, germs are good for us, they build our immune system. BUT if this will limit the amount of times he catches a cold, I’ll be all for it. He has such a hard time with colds, especially coughs. For a normal child (without asthma) a cough will last 1 week or maybe 2, for Bailey it goes on for weeks, sometimes over a month.

      • SKL says:

        I know some parents have good reasons to send hand sanitizers with their kids, like if they have immunity issues. I just feel it’s something a parent should decide. It has both risks and benefits, and some of the risks are specific to the individual.

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