During my husband's first year of teaching, he came home more than once to tell me that the school had run out of something. At first it was little things, he needed more crayons or colored pencils for his classroom, then we needed to replace broken scissors and finally, he came home one day to tell me that the entire school had run out of paper. For the rest of the year.
Being a teacher is a hard job. My husband worked at between 60-80 hours a week, prepping labs, grading papers, lesson planning and teaching all for pay that barely supported our family. He loved teaching, the light in the kid's eyes when they finally grasped a concept was his favorite. He was busier than he has ever been, but he felt like he was changing the world and I loved watching him be in his element. Still after three years of never sleeping and all of the red tape that comes with being a teacher he left the profession.
Sometimes I feel sad that his school lost such a good teacher, and I try hard to make things easier on my kids teachers so the system doesn't loose them too. As I think back on his teaching career, I realized that one of the things that made his job stressful was how often we had to dip into our own pockets for supplies. At the time we were a one income family and so every time meant a sacrifice for our family. So every time we get a huge supply list from our child's teacher. I try to remember that they aren't trying to make things hard for us, they are trying to get an entire class through a school year and often times the beginning of the school year is the only time they get help from parents for supplies. The rest of the year, they are one their own. These are the things that they most often ask for and run out of.
Kleenex- Especially during the winter months, teachers go through boxes and boxes of Kleenex. If they don't have Kleenex for students to blow their nose, they often have to disrupt class and excuse the student to the bathroom or worse, the student does the unhygienic thing and germs are spread to other students. Kleenex are always appreciated by teachers!
Paper Towels- Many projects or labs tend to get messy and having the right supplies to clean up the mess makes it much easier.
Hand sanitizer- There usually isn't time to send kids to the bathroom to wash their hands after every little thing, so hand sanitizer can make a classroom run much smoother.
White board markers- Teachers usually spend a good portion of the lesson writing on the white board. It helps save paper and allows for more interactive discussions. It also means teachers go through A LOT of white board markers.
Crayons/Colored Pencils- A great way to get kids excited and involved in a project is to let them draw and color. Kids can go through a lot of crayons in a year. I remember one day I was volunteering in my daughter's classroom and the kids were drawing with little tiny stubs of crayons. The teacher explained that she had decided they needed glue sticks more and so the crayons would have to wait until her next paycheck. I got the parents together and we were able to replace all of the crayons in the classroom for just $1 a parent. Check with your teacher to see what they prefer. Some teachers like crayons and some prefer colored pencils.
Glue sticks- Have you ever seen the way a child uses a glue stick? They don't last long. Glue sticks are used for projects in just about every subject and teachers are always grateful for more.
Every teacher is different and needs different things in their classroom. For my husband, he was most grateful for Kleenex and White Board Markers, but it may be different for some one else, so ask your child's teacher what they need. They will always be grateful for the extra help.
Another easy way to help out your child's school is to make sure to clip Box Tops off of your favorite products. Right now, specially marked products at Walmart have double box tops on on them, giving you an extra chance to help out your local schools. Look for double box tops on Kleenex, Viva Paper Towels and Scott Toilet Paper. If you don't have elementary age kids, clip the box tops and drop them off at your local school or send them with a neighbor kid. The school will be grateful you took the little extra time to make a difference.