I’m still riding the enthusiasm and excitement from the back to school season over here. Peeper is already adjusted to her half-days of pre-K (no tears, just a quick squeeze before we say goodbye!). And Kiwi just started homeschool preschool—more on that later! But not every child has what she needs to excel in school.
School supplies lists can get expensive (the average family spent $100-200 on the required pens, pencils and binders, according to a national study), and that’s not even factoring in other expenses like clothes, electronics (required by many schools) and other items.
I wrote about how we can help ensure all the kids in our community start school ready to learn and thrive in my latest column for PDX Parent.
In it, I explore how even families with little kids—who don’t have many opportunities to volunteer in the traditional sense because they’re too young—can pitch in.
How families can help kids with back to school
When you hit the back to school supplies sales, buy extras. Little kids can pick out the styles and colors—trust me, if they’re anything like my girls, they’ll love this part. (We donate to Schoolhouse Supplies in Portland.)
Feed their minds
Trying to learn on an empty stomach is near-impossible, so donate healthy snacks to your local school. They can offer them in a snack shelf or table at school so any child can pick up a mandarin or granola bar when hunger strikes.
Donate BTS clothes
Go through your closets and pick out gently worn clothes. Many districts run a “free store,” where kids can “shop” for clothes, shoes and outerwear.
Missing school is clearly a huge barrier to a child’s education, but more often than not, issues like homelessness, trauma, mental health challenges or other obstacles are the root causes (not simply skipping school). So exchange numbers with the parents in your kids’ class to ensure the kids can get to school on time (even if a parent has an illness or job conflict).
In addition, when you see a young person out of school during school hours, say hello. Dan Ryan, CEO of the education and racial equity nonprofit All Hands Raised, explains, “All it takes is one caring adult on any given day to notice a teenager, youth or child. It lets them know they’ve been seen and cared for.”
How do you feel about the back to school season?