Beating the school supply surprise - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Beating the school supply surprise

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If you are a first timer in the school supply shopping craze -- there is a little secret that will save you lots of time and money.

It's a secret I wish I'd known when I sent my tender 5 year old off to Kindergarten.

As you know, this is a monumental experience for the kid and the parent. So, armed with my school supply list, I did what all the mommy blogs told me to do. Scour the coupons! Look for the penny deals! Stand in line at Staples, Office Depot, Walgreen's and Target to gather all the goods!

Since it was going to be my child's first year of school, I wanted to buy the best.

1 box Ticonderoga pencils - check!

1 box 24 Crayola crayons - check!

1 pack Crayola sharpened color pencils - check!

2 black Expo markers - check!

6 Elmer's vanishing purple glue sticks. Six? Really? Guess kids use a lot of glue, so ... check!

Instead of a standard black and white Composition book, I lovingly chose one with a cool robot design on the cover.

I even managed to find light blue cushy-handled Fiskars scissors so my Kinder's tiny fingers wouldn't tire.

The day before school I took everything out. I carefully labeled each item, then put them all neatly organized into a pencil box we'd decorated. I imagined my child smiling with pride as the first yellow pencil was sharpened, the first crisp page was turned.

Later that afternoon -- my illusion came crashing down. The pencil box came home empty.

Turns out, all the Kindergartners were directed to turn in their supplies, which would now become communal property. I was crushed - and frankly, a bit indignant.

I started adding up the haul. 25 kids per class means 250 pencils. 600 crayons. 150 glue sticks, 50 Expo markers. 50! "Seriously. What teacher needs 50 Expo markers?," I ranted to my mother.

Wrong audience. My mom, a career school teacher, roundly scolded me on my pettiness and reminded me how much out-of-pocket money teachers spend each year for their classrooms.

I have learned my lesson -- and here is your secret:

Do not shop around. Go straight to whatever discount store you like. Do not waste time trying to decide between the plain or brightly colored erasers, Crayola vs. RoseArt, Mead vs. no-name notebooks. For the little ones, it just doesn't matter. They mow through school supplies like an open bag of sour gummy worms.

Load up your cart with the lowest priced items you can find. If it's a rock bottom deal, throw in a few extra for good measure.

Okay, so you might lose out on a few dollars by not hopping from store to store. But you'll save yourself from a huge letdown, and help out those hard-working teachers, too.

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