HOUSTON – From clothes and electronics to traditional school supplies, back-to-school shopping can get expensive. The National Retail Federation says the average family with kids in grades K through 12th will spend about $630.36 getting ready for the first bell. But local teachers say you can save some of that money. They told Channel 2 consumer expert Amy Davis there are supplies they see kids bringing every year that they just don't need.
Plain old number two pencils work just fine. Teachers say you should skip the mechanical pencils that cost a lot more money. The lead runs out quickly, and then you're on the hook for refills.
Skip the backpack for the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten set. Why start those back pains early when teachers say they really don't have much to carry back and forth to school anyway?
Local PE teacher Lisa Anderson says don't send your child to school with the most expensive Nikes for PE. "It's not going to make them faster or better and they're more likely to get stolen," Anderson told Davis. Students need supportive, athletic shoes that are going to get wet, muddy and possibly lost.
St. Michael's Catholic School teacher Holly Bennett sent us a picture of her classroom closet loaded with packs of paper as proof they don't need anymore loose leaf paper. It's messy; classrooms are going digital and she says she could use more printer paper for classroom projects.
Bianca Carpenter teaches eighth grade at O'Donnell Middle School. She says you should not buy multiple subject notebooks unless your child's teacher specifically puts them on their supply list. She says they're usually not needed. Instead, Carpenter says you should wait until you get the school supply list from your child's teacher. In her experience, she says the lists you get at the store usually have a lot of items that your child won't need.
Kindergarten teacher Liz Martin says her school asks parents to send three packages of number two pencils with a dozen pencils each and multiple bottles of hand sanitizer. Martin says she feels like she could open her own office supply store with all of the extras left over each year. She recommends buying one of each item on the list.
Martin also says there is no need to buy your child earbuds. "Most schools have headphones plugged into their computers already," she explained to Davis in an email. "Most parents spend anywhere from $8 to $15 on earbuds just so they can become lost or end up ruined in the washing machine."
And first-grade teacher Catherin Newlin has this advice: "I would tell the Local 2 viewers to wait until they meet the teacher (which is usually one to two school days before school starts). For example Katy ISD meet the teacher is Aug. 20 and students go back the 24. Parents have that weekend to really get what they only need."