middle school supply hell


I spent three hours last night sorting, labeling, and organizing school supplies for my older son's first day in middle school. I had a two page list of supplies, organized by subject...English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Home & Careers, Health, Spanish.

Conspicuously absent from his schedule were Art, Music, and Technology. Apparently they get only a half year of each of "exploratory areas," so in January Home & Careers and Health will be replaced by Art and Music. I really don't like that this means he has no classes focused on non-text creativity for the next 4-5 months. Even worse, however, was the discovery that seventh graders at his school have no instruction in technology or computers. They use computers in some classes, apparently, via "mobile labs" of laptop carts that teachers can requisition. But that's not the same as learning about technology. For my kids, that's not a big deal, since they get so much informal instruction at home. But I know that's not true of all their friends, and I'm less than enthusiastic about the curriculum that it looks like he's locked into.

Why aren't we homeschooling again this year? (Regular readers know that we homeschooled both the kids last year in Seattle.) One reason: they don't want to. They missed their friends terribly, and for them school is all about the social networks. The "learning" is a necessary evil they have to suffer through in order to bond with their peers.

At any rate, the supplies. As my gamer friends might say, OMFG! Three 2" binders, four 1" binders, 2 notebooks, 3 folders, black pens, red pens, markers, colored pencils, highlighters, white board markers (wtf?? the kids have to supply these??), erasers, two rulers, a scientific calculator, book covers, post-it notes, graph paper, lined paper...and I'm sure I'm leaving stuff off. Gerald bought the supplies last week, and I sat down last night to label and stuff binders (Science? That one needs highlighters and markers and a notebook with a 2" binder. Math? One of each size binder, a calculator, the graph paper, a ruler, pencils.) Even after the bags of stuff he'd bought, we turned out to be missing key items ("The colored pencils! Where are the colored pencils?!?"), so he headed out to Target at 9pm. I kept working on prepping items, calling him every ten minutes or so with another missing item. ("Oh, crap, there's no cartridge for the label printer!" "Hmmm, maybe we need some of those pencil/pen bags that snap right into the binders.")

Did I mention that this took three hours?

At any rate, when we were done we'd filled his backpack with the 1" binders, single subject notebooks, and loose items (pens, pencils, kleenex, etc), and filled a second canvas totebag with the 3" binders and his summer homework. (If I get permission from him, I'll post it here--it's fabulous.)

How all that will fit in his locker is beyond me. Gerald bought a locker shelf unit that Lane put into his locker this summer on "visitation day" at the school, and I'm hoping it's sturdy enough to hold up under all that crap.

My stepdaughter, who's now living with us (yay!) watched in disbelief as all this went on (and helpfully offered me a drink midway through :), asked "What do the poor kids do?" Good question. We didn't shop the sales this year (usually I'm obsessive about sale flyers and comparison shopping), so we spent close to $200 on supplies for the two kids. That's insane. But even with the best shopping habits, I don't see how you could fill all the requirements on that list for under $100. Ridiculous.

Okay, rant done. Hopefully they'll both have wonderful first days back in school. I teach 'til 6, so I won't be there when they get off their buses, but I'm looking forward to hearing about it over dinner.


Oh, Liz, I can so feel for you! (And thanks for posting that list... I'm trying to get the 'not on the list but, oh yeah, your kids need this stuff too!' shopping list taken care of today, and your list reminded me of a few things I had forgotten.

I don't know how I got supplies for all 5 of my school-aged kids this year for under $200... good fortune, I guess, and I haven't had to get the jump drives yet (that's a mission for today, *sigh*)

Good luck with the first day of school!


Sounds like some fun I have to look forward to in a few years. Kevin wants to homeschool, but I worry that Duncan (and any future siblings) will miss out on the socialization aspect of school.

I also forgot to tell you a related story that my mom and I were just discussing a few days ago. One time my mom's credit card froze (she had no idea why) while she was trying to buy school supplies. She called up the card company and the freud department said something like: "Well we didn't understand why you'd spend $300 on office supplies." Hahaha... I was like: do they have kids in middle school or high school?! Probably not, but at least that department is a bit more aware now after my mom explained.

Insane. I don't even want to think how much it'll cost when I'm a parent.

"school is all about the social networks"

Truer words were never blogged.

Silandara; We've been home-schooling for all my daughter's education "career" so far, and we've had a pretty easy time getting socialization in. Mainly it's a matter of what kind of local area/neighborhood/activities you have. L(the daughter) has been doing Baseball, kids "fun runs" and generally makes at least one "new friend" at almost every event.

For the record, I was the skeptical parent when J (my SO) suggested home-schooling, but I've been pretty pleased with how L's socialization has turned out so far, but then she's always been rather gregarious. As always, YMMV, of course, and a lot may depend on your area (rural, urban, suburban)

It also means we get to buy OUR school supplies during the "after rush" times. Hee! :)

ha ha. Just did 3 2 1/2 hour "school orientation sessions" for parents in the evenings this week :-)

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