Imagine a plumber showing up at your house without a wrench, a hacksaw or even a plunger.   You would be looking at a person totally unprepared to tackle the job

            The same goes for students who show up for school without the things they need.  Just as good workers arrive on the job with the right tools, kids should go to class equipped with everything required for the business of learning. 

            When I was a youngster, the first day of school each year was commemorated by the purchase of a new pencil, a fresh box of crayons, and a full jar of paste.  Young scholars these days still need those things, and a lot more.  Specific requirements depend upon school and grade level.  Most elementary school teachers have their supply lists posted at local stores. 

            As I looked over a few of these lists, I was pleased to note that 21st century pupils are still on the job with some of the tools we used way back in the middle of the previous century.  Pencils and crayons still top the charts.  In some cases, the paste jar has been replaced by glue sticks, but most of the remaining inventory includes the old reliables:  notebooks, folders, erasers, scissors and rulers. 

            Some things on the list didn’t even exist when I was in school.  Highlighters are a good example.  When members of my class wanted to highlight something in our reading, we just underlined it.   Now young readers illuminate important words in yellow, orange, or pink. 

            Many teachers today are having students bring post-it notes.  That’s something else unknown to my generation.  As much as we use them now, it’s hard to believe that my friends and I got all the way through school without slapping self-sticking pats of paper onto everything. 

            Freezer bags seem to be important this year.  They are especially popular with third and fourth-grade teachers.  One teacher specified the gallon-size for boys and the sandwich-size for girls.  You can’t help but marvel at the customized creativity of a learning project that requires gender-specific freezer bags.

            It’s obvious that a good deal of thought has gone into germ control.  Many teachers are asking students to bring bottles of hand sanitizer, and nearly every child is expected to bring at least one box of Kleenex.  Some teachers require two.  It’s a smart move.  It doesn’t take a new teacher long to learn that a box of tissues is an indispensable part of desktop equipment.

            It is true that tissues, crayons, and pencils are all helpful as students begin a new school term.  However, there are even more important things that are not listed on the supply lists.

            In the ideal world, each child would arrive at school with a jar of curiosity, a bucket of self-confidence, and a giant tube of enthusiasm.  In addition, not one student would leave home without a satchel full of listening skills and a big box of cooperation.

            On top of these, each and every pupil would carry a giant package of parental concern and a big bucket of community support. 

            Teachers need their supplies, too.  They require all of the above, supplemented by their own personal cache of passion for their profession.  The enthusiasm brought by their students will help, but teachers should have gallons and gallons of gusto of their own.  Also required will be a trainload of patience and understanding.  And certainly they must come to school each day suited up with a sense of humor in endless supply.

            Highlighters and post-it notes are nice things to have, and certainly a 64-pack of crayons can add glorious color to the school day, but the most important tools for learning, and teaching, are not found on store shelves.  They originate in positive attitudes, eager minds, and cooperative spirits of students, teachers, and parents.    


School Supplies Plus. . . 

In addition to laptops, crayons, and paste, kids should bring curiosity and enthusiasm to school