When I was younger, I loved back-to-school time. There’s a special excitement attached to choosing new binders, notebooks, pencils, pens, etc. Boy have things changed though since I was in school—then, teachers would give the list of school supplies out on the first day and we would have to rush to the pharmacy to buy everything before it was sold out! Did Bureau en Gros or Dollarama even exist then?
I remember walking into Cumberland’s drug store, with my mom and sister, which had two whole aisles, dedicated to school supplies!
There were lots of binders to choose from at the time, different colors, and two or three different brands. There were also two or three choices of markers, colored pencils and erasers. My eyes would light up like a kid in a candy shop, and I would beg my mother to buy me the coolest items for school.
The entire shopping experience could take up to two hours and sometimes we would have to go back two evenings in one week, especially when I started grade three and I had to get school supplies for both my English and French classes. We would inevitably run into all of our classmates (everyone in the area went to the same pharmacy to purchase their school supplies) and it was an exciting outing to remember.
There was something very important about getting the school supplies right away—it made the teacher happy and you never wanted to be the last kid to have everything you needed.
There was a certain sense of pride and accomplishment related to being organized and ready to learn.
Today, there is so much more choice in terms of school supplies—there are entire stores dedicated to them, and supply lists are handed out either before school ends the previous year, or before school begins. Lists are long and include non-traditional items, and they can be very specific. That being said, many parents are going to pick up the school supplies without their kids being present—even though this may save time and energy, I would encourage the opposite.
I would argue that encouraging kids to pick out their own school supplies helps them in a variety of ways:
- It gives kids a fresh start to the new school year, which symbolizes new opportunities for success, learning and achievement.
- It allows kids to become excited about going back to school! And since we all know that excitement and school do not always go hand in hand, it is important to embrace any and all opportunities to start the year off on a positive note!
- When kids are excited about picking out their own school supplies they are more likely to take better care of them.
- The whole reason that school supplies are necessary is for kids to be organized for the duration of the academic year—this is an incredibly important learning tool that enables success. When kids are actively involved in organizing their own lives, they are more likely to maintain these systems and integrate them into their way of being.
Before I end, I just want to add that I still love to shop for school supplies, and since I am the director of a learning centre, I have ample opportunity to purchase them all year long! Even so, there is still something exciting and magical about the spirit of back to school in August and September. And although I no longer shop for school supplies at drug stores, I still love the feeling of the back-to-school rush, as it provides me with opportunities to embrace new beginnings and to embark upon new paths towards future successes.