Sunday, August 18, 2013

5 Supplies That Your Teacher Does NOT Want At School

As we approach the first day of school, many of you are gathering up your back-to-school ads, piling those adorable kids in the car, and roaming the aisles of your favorite stores in anticipation of a few more quiet moments to yourselves. Finishing a leisurely cup of coffee without hearing, "I'm bored," is on the horizon, and you can almost hear the sound of that first morning bell. Before you get carried away and fill up that cart with all of your back-to-school supplies, please keep us teachers in mind. As I was roaming the aisles at Staples a few weeks ago, I came across some amazing new products that I can't wait to share with you. I also came across some supplies that are sure to end up on any teacher's most-wanted list. So, I present this to you: 5 supplies that your teacher does NOT want at school.

This is not an exhaustive all! These are just a few things that I came across as I was perusing. A few years ago, those "squishies"that came out of the gum ball machines at diners were all the rage. They were these little squishy animals made of rubber that fit on the end of a pencil. They were not an eraser, and the kids were trading them, losing them, and stealing them ALL DAY LONG. Last year, the kids found these erasers that looked like food and were made up of itty bitty parts. It wasn't uncommon to see them spend the first 5 minutes of workshop lining them all up.

Before I have all of you all thinking that teachers don't like fun things, let me throw in a disclaimer here. Most teachers that I know LOOOOOVE school supplies. Most teachers that I know are just as excited that school is starting as you are. Most teachers that I know love to see the joy on kids' faces when they are excited about anything school-related. However, most teachers that I know run a tight ship in the classroom, and they work hard to create a stimulating an exciting, yet controlled, learning environment for your children. This means eliminating unnecessary distractions, which is ultimately why all 5 of these items made it on my list. 

Without further ado, here are the 5 supplies that your teacher does NOT want at school.

Supply #1: scented gel pen and notepad

Yes, this notebook is adorable. However, students do not need to bring their own notebooks to school. Most kids keep these in their desks, and write or doodle while they are supposed to either be listening or working independently. Some kids use these to write notes, and some kids will attempt to take these out of someone else's desk. There's nothing worse than trying to run a small group and hearing, "Give it back!" from across the room.

If your kids absolutely must have this, encourage them to keep it in their nightstand or at their desk at home. Journaling is a GREAT activity for kids to do at home.

Supply #2: decorative pens

Yes, these pens are adorable. They are so adorable, in fact, that they are more of a toy than a writing tool. Most kids don't use pens in the classroom, and if they do, they are supplied by the teacher. Kids will take these from each other, compete with one another over who has the cooler pen, and write on their desks with these. It's sad, but it's true.

If your kids absolutely must have these, keep them at home and use them as a homework reward. Or, encourage your kids to write their hearts out in a journal at home. The rules for their super- secret, exclusive club aren't going to write themselves, and they can use these pens to draft their club's constitution in their scented notebooks!

Supply #3: eraser rings

Yes, these erasers are adorable. I mean, an eraser that you can wear helps you keep track of it, right? Wrong! These erasers aren't all. It's difficult enough for some kids to erase using their pencil, so imagine having to flip your hand over to do it. The surface area on these erasers is too large to erase a small area without erasing all around it at the same time. Like the pens, these become more of a toy, and they are likely to be stolen in addition to being a distraction.

If your kids absolutely must have these, bury them on the bottom of the cart and dispose of them while they're not looking; chances are they won't remember them amidst all of their excitement with their other supplies. If they do recognize that they're missing, blame it on the cashier, and tell them they're all sold out if you can't avoid "going back" to find them. 

Supply #4: pencil stackers erasers

Yes, these erasers are adorable. You get to stack up the components and build your own FLOWER! Although these seem like a lot of fun, they really weigh down your pencil, making it harder for students (especially those with fine motor challenges) to write. These have the same potential distractions as the supplies above.

If your kids absolutely must have these, save them a rainy day (STAR testing, the last week before a vacation, their birthday, etc) or use them as a homework incentive. Give one leaf after spelling homework is complete, a petal after they practice their math facts, and so on and so forth. I actually bought these for myself to use as incentives for 2 of my reluctant writers. #guilty

Supply #5: twist it erasers

(say it with me) Yes, these erasers are adorable. They're bendable, they're cute, and you can even cut them up to share with your friends! However, these end up all over the floor, they're extremely difficult to erase with for little hands, and--yep, you guessed it--distracting! 

If your kids absolutely must have these, please ask them to use them at home. If they leave them whole, they will be less likely to lose little pieces, and they might even make homework time more fun. I bought these to keep in my office so that I can remind my kids that everyone makes mistakes, and that making mistakes is part of learning new things. #guiltytwotimes 

There you have it. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I dug a little deeper with some of my teacher friends, and here are a few items they would add to the list:
  • Hot Cheetos (and other foods that get all over their fingers)
  • Silly Bands (and other collective bracelets or necklaces)
  • Money that isn't for lunch, the book fair, or a school activity (if you send cash to school, PLEASE put it in an envelope with their name and what it's for)
  • Party favors (such as Valentines) that need to be assembled at school
  • Shoes that they cannot tie independently
  • Belts that they cannot buckle or pants that they cannot zip/button
  • Pencil sharpeners (especially the ones without canisters for the shavings)
  • Mechanical pencils
Teachers are excited to go back to school, and have eagerly been planning all kinds of fun get-to-know-you activities for the first days of school. It's likely that they've spent the summer searching for new ideas, revamping their plans to include the new common core standards, and setting up their classrooms. Teachers are excited to meet their new, eager students, and I know that they appreciate you keeping these items at home.

Click here to see our FAVORITE school supplies (and how you can get them at a discounted price).

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