I have been adjusting to the many changes in my new country and my new school. One major difference is how school supplies are handled. In my school in Michigan, it was required that anything that the students needed be supplied by the school. This included books, paper, crayons, construction paper, instruments, etc. Of course, we certainly did not have enough of many items, so we often put out wish lists, asked for donations, or put forth suggested supply lists. I was fortunate to work in an area where parents were very supportive, and were willing and able to donate these items when requested.

In Australia, each child receives a book list before the start of the year. The book list actually includes all the supplies they are required to have for the year, and has items like pencils, paper, rulers, and pencil sharpeners on it. Parents are also encouraged to pay a small fee toward copying costs, arts and sciences consumables, and other school materials. The teachers put together a list of items they want included on their class list, and they give it to a local bookshop that has been given the contract. The book shop orders all the materials, packs them in boxes, and sells them to the parents. So when students arrive at school on the first day they bring their box of materials. These materials then get doled out throughout the year as needed.



This system has been an interesting learning curve for me. I love the idea of being able to create a specific list of items that my students will need. Unfortunately for me, this year I did not get to make my list. As a new staff member, they just ordered for me what the other teachers typically get for their classes. Of course this makes sense, but I am finding already that I wish I could have made different selections.

I do find that the kids have a better respect for the supplies here. I think they understand that their parents purchased them, and that there is not a limitless supply. I love that caps almost always get put back on glue sticks without a thousand reminders!

How are school supplies managed where you are? If you had the opportunity to put together a list of required supplies for purchase, what would you include?

3 Responses to Supplies

  1. Venus March 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    I’m still not working, but my son is going to the school I worked at for a couple years. Some things are provided by the school, but many things are purchased by the parents. We get the supply list in summer and purchase things like copy paper, pencils, glue, sharpeners, folders, notebooks, and many other things on a typical school supply list. I think one difference is the list usually has quite a bit more than a typical supply list, and tends to be quite pricey. It can also be difficult to find everything, since some items are odd and not found in all department stores, like green hand sanitizer (not just color green but a specific health friendly green). My husband and I always talk about how it would be so much easier if the teachers could buy everything in bulk, and split the bill so parents could pay their share of the bill, instead of running all over the store trying to find specific amounts and kinds of each thing. I like the idea of buying a box with all the supplies in it. I’ve seen options for buying school supply bundles, but never with enough of the right supplies to make it cost effective.

    • Karen Langdon March 13, 2014 at 4:36 am #

      I think it is so interesting that you are required to buy supplies. We learned that in Michigan it was technically illegal to require parents to buy supplies. Anything necessary to the child’s education had to be provided by the school. So we had to carefully word anything school supply notes that were sent home in order to be very clear that they were voluntary, and were called “donations.” I regularly had wish lists, but could not require a thing. In Australia it is very different, and parents MUST buy supplies, which is why they are sourced to a local bookstore and are ordered in bulk, to save parents money. I can imagine that driving all over to fins the specific supplies is really frustrating!

  2. Michelle June 7, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    I think most American school do require parents to buy supplies. I know Louisiana and Texas definitely do, because my family lives in those states. It’s a normal thing to see a big display in Target and
    Wal-Mart every July with all the lists for the local schools. Most are pretty basic around here, with most lists consisting of pencils, crayons, and paper. But, most schools ask for Kleenex and something extra like GermX or zip lock bags, as well. Kindergartners usually have to bring a nap mat and schools are very specific about those so they will fit on the classroom shelves. After viewing my niece’s list, I felt pretty fortunate to only have to provide 6 boxes of crayons because her list required 14! I think most parents assume that when they are asked for 14 boxes of crayons that they are actually buying crayons for the students whose parents refused to buy supplies. Wal-Mart has excellent sales during back-to-school time and crayola crayons are only .50 per box. I’ve heard that some school PTOs have fundraisers at the svhool registration or open house and parents can purchase the supplies as a bundle. The PTO makes a little money by marking the bundles up to a flat fee and parents do not have to fight crowds at the stores. I personally love buying my son’s svhool supplies and I look forward to it every year. I’m sure that if I had four kids, I might feel differently anout it.