Making the Grade: Back to School Shopping with Your Grade School Child

Because you can never have too much back to school information, here’s another bit of advice when mapping out your march to victory….It’s that time of year! Your child needs school supplies and clothes. Where do you start? How do you pay for it all? Here are some tips for making the grade with your grade school kid this year.

Dressed for Success

Your grade school child may not have the picky tastes of a teenager, but he or she is going to need some new clothes this year. Go through last year’s clothing and find out what fits and what doesn’t. This includes shoes, socks, and underwear, too. Grade school kids can grow really fast! Here are some more ideas for clothes shopping with your grade school child.

* Plan your shopping trip for a day when you don’t have to rush, and when you don’t have anything planned the night before. Being rested and ready helps everyone’s mood, and so does being able to take your time.

* Call the school where your child will be attending and make sure there aren’t any changes to the dress code. If your child will be attending this school for the first time, then find out what the dress code is.

* Keeping it simple helps a lot. Depending on his (or her) age, he will be better able to dress himself as the year goes on. Having easy-to-fasten clothes can help a lot to facilitate this process. Tough buttons (or lots of buttons), lacings, belts, and small head-holes can make dressing a frustrating experience. Go for clothes with large head-holes, zippers, and easy (and few) buttons.

School Supplies

Moving on to school supplies – like the clothes, it’s a good idea to check with your school and teacher to find out what specifics might be required. Some teachers specify brands, colors, and so forth. Here are some other tips for shopping for school supplies with your grade school child.

* Go generic on writing items like pens and pencils. Getting fancy, unique writing implements only leads to competition in the classroom and the possibility that your child’s fancy pens will get stolen. Unless the teacher requires otherwise, go with standard #2 pencils.

Markers should be water-based, and crayons are usually needed in packs of 16. Consider a box to store and carry these small, easily-lost items.

* Erasers are always needed in grade school. A large, pink eraser like you had in school is a good purchase. Some erasers that fit on the ends of pencils are inexpensive additions, too.

* Your child’s school may not supply paper like they did in the old days. Find out from your teacher/school if you need to supply ruled (lined) paper, which will differ from teacher to teacher and grade to grade.

* Notebooks come in many forms. Your grade school child will probably need some spiral-bound ones as well as some binders. Think slim and trim so the notebooks fit in your child’s desk, no matter what type is required.

You also might want to purchase some dividers or pocket folders to help your child stay organized.

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Creative Clothes Shopping for Back to School

Back to School time always seems to me to be money out the wazoo time.  There are kids to outfit, mom to outfit.  From clothes to pencils, it shapes up to be a pretty expensive time of year – so what can a RichMama do? Are there any other options besides the traditional retail shops? Is there a way to go about this creatively?

The answer is yes. Here are some creative options for back-to-school clothes shopping.

Take Stock

Do your kids come to you complaining that they have “nothing to wear”? It’s pretty doubtful that they really have nothing; it just seems like nothing. Take some time to assess your kids’ wardrobes and really discern what they have. Chances are, you’re going to find some decent clothes that fit that can be worn again. They might even be clothes that have been so long forgotten that they will seem new again!

Break out the Needle and Thread

If you can sew, now is the time to get your sewing machine out. (And if you can’t sew, maybe now is a good time to learn!) You can recycle old clothes artfully with some well-places stitches. For example, let hems out or cut and hem worn-out pants to make shorts. If you can do some needlework, you can get creative and cover stains and small holes on clothes that otherwise fit fine.

Give Old Outfits a New Look

While you are going through the bureaus and closets of your kids, try to mix and match and put together new outfits. You can create a whole new look by mixing and matching, especially if your child has items in similar or neutral colors.

Shop for Used Clothes

Watch for consignment sales in your area, and since it’s the end of summer, keep an eye out for yard sales. It’s amazing what you can find at these second-hand options, sometimes even name-brand clothes that kids really like. While you’re shopping creatively for used clothes, don’t forget the internet. Yard sales are moving online these days, so take advantage of the local and larger groups selling used items online.

Watch for Sales

Of course, watching for sales keeps your clothing bill lower; but if you watch for sales creatively, you can combine these events with some of the above options to create a whole new wardrobe for the school year.

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