On Thursday, August 18, 2012, my wife took our son to his first junior high school orientation. I teach at the same school, so I had to stay in the classroom to speak to the parents of my own students. Parents follow their kids' schedules and see each teacher one at a time. We tell the parents what the classes will cover, what rules we have, and what projects we will require. We also give the parents the lists of class supplies that our students will need. After orientation, I resumed my role of Dad, and the three of us went shopping for our son's supplies.
Supplies and cost
We had to buy the standard supplies that all students must have: pens, pencils, paper, notebook, and calculator. Some teachers, though, want special supplies such as notebook dividers, specific book covers, page savers, or graph paper. My wife and I both teach, so we understand how much paper and how many pens and pencils a student should need. We bought the needed amount plus a little extra to make sure that he has enough for the school year. We also bought him a new pair of shoes. We spent exactly $100.65 for his supplies, which should last the entire year.
What not to allow
Since we both teach, we also see what many junior high kids will do with those supplies. I remember a previous school at which I taught. The school would provide pens, pencils, and paper and add the costs to the tuition and matriculation fees to save the parents the hassle of shopping in crowded stores. We gave the kids eighteen pens (six each of blue, black, and red), paper, and pencils. Surprisingly (and without exaggeration), many of the kids had no pens or paper left by the end of the week. The pens became spit-ball cannons, and the paper became the ammunition. Pencils became fodder for pencil crack tournaments. This happened all eight years of my tenure there, and parents never seemed to complain except about our disciplining the kids for doing it all.
We buy the first set of supplies.
We spent that money for our son's schoolwork and nothing else. We also bought his school agenda book at orientation for five more dollars. The agenda has places for writing down his assignments and quiz/test dates or special projects and activities as the teachers give them. We will gladly pay for the supplies and send him to class prepared to work hard and learn. We have done our part, and we will make sure that he uses the supplies for their intended purposes: education.
He buys extra supplies
If our son uses his supplies correctly and simply needs more, then we will buy them without complaint. We do not expect that to happen, but it is possible. However, we have rules that dictate that our son pays us back for costing us money unnecessarily. If he wastes his supplies by drawing pictures, shooting spit balls, or playing pencil crack, we will consider that costing us money. He will then pay for any new supplies himself in addition to receiving appropriate disciplinary action. This rule has worked very well in other situations such as not eating his restaurant food or misusing my cell phone. He learns better responsibility when he has to pay the costs himself.
Ready for school
Our son is now physically ready for school. This is first year of junior high, though, so we also hope that he is socially ready for it. We have done what we can to prepare him. He is a very bright, healthy, and polite boy. We know he will do just fine.
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