After the turkey is relegated to sandwich fixings, we start to turn our minds to the next big holiday hurdle: shopping! Did you already gather your gifts in preparation for Hanukkah? Or are you gearing up for Black Friday sales, ready to outfit your family and stack presents under the tree? Even though the school year is nearing its halfway mark, we look at this as another kind of back-to-school shopping season, perfect for meeting needs of your students at home and those you may look after in the classroom.
With a few months behind them, kids at home have probably settled into the routine. Now is a good time to check in and see what they’ve, lost or used beyond reasonable wear-and-tear. While it might feel like you just bought everyone new sneakers back in August, see how they’re holding up. Rough gym classes and unpredictable growth spurts are both reasons to put sneakers back on the shopping list.
While school supplies might not be the obvious choice for Christmas presents, your students may also report they lost a much-loved folder. They also might need an added dose of motivation; a new notebook or set of personalized pencils might be just the ticket to help them refocus in the classroom.
Technology is always a big win in holiday shopping and this year is no different. Work with your children — and possibly their teachers — to see what hardware, software and devices will be most useful over the coming months and beyond. At the low end, laptops and tablets continue to come down in price while maintaining many popular features and capabilities of higher-priced models that came on the market just a year ago. What’s the best way to start shopping for new technology that might go to school with your student? First discuss how you plan to use it and your child’s goals. Then talk with their teachers and review school district policy for what’s allowed in the classroom.
If you’re a teacher, you probably see similar needs among your students. Some may perennially forget to bring a pen or pencil to class, while others may be struggling to balance a tough family financial situation with the need for basic school supplies. Holiday sales can offer the perfect time to restock your classroom’s “just-in-case drawer” on a budget so that you can spend less time chiding forgetful students and more time teaching.
Of course, holiday sales offer the opportunity to shop for much more than classroom supplies and for others besides students and family members. With a variety of programs to “adopt a family” and shop for those less fortunate, you can involve your students in shopping for other families in their own community. In Boston, explore Action for Boston Community Development’s Adopt-a-Family initiative, while organizations like Dedham’s DOVE, Inc. promote a holiday assistance program complete with wish list ideas.