Wednesday, July 31, 2013

School Supply Madness

In the late 1800s, two girls followed the wagon track from their home to the schoolhouse in town, carrying a slate, a primer, and a penny to buy a piece of chalk.  Armed with these items, they received an education that equipped them to read great works, calculate math problems, and narrate two hundred years worth of history from memory.  The younger girl, Laura Ingalls, went on to write a series of books that have been beloved by generations of children and their parents.

Well, those days are over, my friends.  Now, we need stuff- LOTS of stuff- to be educated.

I am new to the school supply madness game.  In the past, I have bought a few packages of pencils, some pens, paper, a package of 64 crayons (because I'm a cool mom who lets her kids have lots of different colors), and checked to make sure that we had some glue and scissors on hand.  Then, if I was feeling especially generous, each child got to pick out a binder.  This year, however, the kids will be in private school part time, and I had school supply LISTS.  I went to Wal-Mart armed with the lists and started to fill my cart.

I couldn't believe how much stuff we ended up with!  I have five school age kids, so the effect of the LIST is greatly magnified in my house:  104 pencils, 60 dry erase markers, 30 folders, and on and on.  Now, please understand, I'm certain that all this stuff will be put to good use (or at least it better be!), and I'll be teaching too, so I put out my own LIST, but I'm wondering if all of this is really necessary.  Nice, sure, but is it necessary?

There's something to be said for limiting oneself and working within certain parameters.  In fact, limitation can actually breed creativity.  When we say, "this and no more," we force ourselves to think, "How can I accomplish my desired result with what I've got right here?"  I realized when I looked at the LIST for the classes I'll be teaching that some of my requests were omitted.  That's okay.  With a little thought, I came up with a work-around.  Maybe we don't need all the extra stuff to make a Roman history timeline.  Maybe we can come up with a method that uses what we already have on hand.  It takes a little brain power, and a lot of willpower, but it saves money and hassle.  Remember, the more stuff we have, the more effort we have to put into storing, maintaining, and replacing it.

But, for now, I'm just going to be the mom who sends her kids to school with half of the stuff on the list, and then waits to see how much they're really going to need.  And maybe next year, I'll just buy them all slates.

No comments: