Why My Kids Get Boring School Supplies

August 13, 2013  |  

Over the next few weeks, all parents will take a breather as their children enter the schoolhouse doors, but for now most of us are scrambling to find the latest school gadgets to ensure our children have successful school year.  On my latest back-to-school shopping trip I couldn’t help but notice all of the parents purchasing book bags with Super Mario Bros labels and laptops and cell phones loaded with the newest games and apps.

Seeing this, it is no surprise that some students fail to complete homework in a timely manner, play around and talk during class time and eventually face the middle-of-year slump.  When parents purchase pencils with HotWheels, notebooks with Barbie and cell phones with Angry Birds and load them all into their “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” book bag they send mixed messages to their kids.  On one hand you are expecting the child to stay organized with her My Little Pony folder and on the other hand i’ts the newest My Little Pony folder so of course it’s going to encourage conversation with giggling girls during Ms. Johnson’s math class. It’s counterproductive.

One method that my husband and I will be employing this school year to get rid of our kids’ Incredible Hulk homework time chatter is the toys versus tools strategy.  It basically says that certain school items are tools and are not to be treated as toys.  Here are some examples:

Book Bags

A child’s book bag is often a parent’s portal to their school day.  This item should be the first to be reformed.  Book bags need to symbolize business.  A tidy and organized book bag is the first step to organization for a kid.  In my experience, whatever my son’s book bag looks like is a signal for how his desk looks.  In our family there are no character branded book bags.  Whether you have a daughter or a son when they start their first job they will need to carry a briefcase or work bag of some sort.  Teach your child early on that their school bag is a tool for organization.  Instead, purchase a lunch box bearing their favorite character.  Lunchtime is generally viewed as a place where kids can socialize and have a little fun.


Many parents may not agree with this, but buying your little worker-to-be a cellphone that allows them access to any app they want during school time is not a great idea.  While cellphones have evolved over the years to do-it-all machines, most business people use their cel phones for everything from staying in touch with clients, to planning their weeks and conducting financial business transactions. If American kids want to keep up with growing China they need to understand that cell phones are not just for play, but are a tool toward social and financial success.  My husband and I only allow our kids to play video and digital games on their XBOX and Wii.  Not to mention that when your kid pulls out his cell to use as a calculator and starts playing Candy Crush, it can a foil a teacher’s class lesson.


This is a biggie for me.  Our computer is not for play.  We have a separate log-in for our children where they can play educational games only.  For most entrepreneurs their computer is their gateway to success and longevity. Rather than allowing your child to play Spongebob Squarepants on the computer,  teach them to blog.  You will be surprised how quickly kids pick stuff like this up.  I always tell my son he should never ask questions because he has Google.  Now that he understands how powerful the Internet is. with the ability to give him the answer to any question, he sees the power and, more importantly, the profitability of his computer.  Too often we allow our kids unlimited time playing games on Nick Jr. and forget to educate them about the thousands of people who make a living online every day.

School Planner

Last year I brought my fifth grader a Dragon Ball Z school day planner, and when we went in for parent-teacher conference in November found the whole thing was full of doodles.  Now my son is a great student.  He is always a applauded for his intelligence, but all kids daydream at sometime during the school day.  The worst time for them to daydream is when they are supposed to be writing down their homework.  And, at least for my boys, the characters on their day planners only help to fuel their imaginations.  If nothing else, a planner is certainly a tool.  Some parents use their children’s cell phones for planners.  I say leave that to the adults for now.  A child needs to get in the habit of using an adult-like planner to learn the importance of taking out time in advance to plan their day with no distractions.

Pens and Pencils

This is probably the most important just because it is such a mainstay during your child’s school day.  Even if they don’t need their planner, or carry their book bag to every class I’m sure they will need a pencil or pen in every single class.  When their pencil has Superman splattered across it or writes in pretty pink glitter it is not only distracting to your child, but is also distracting to other kids and can interrupt class time.  My rule of thumb is that my kindergartener gets to take his special pencil on Friday.  Monday throughThursday  it’s strictly yellow, No. 2 pencils.

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