Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School Mistake, Spending Too Much On Your Teen's Backpack

I have seen quite a bit of neglect in my career as an educator, including ten years as an assistant principal.  This time, however, I'm not referring to the neglect some children face at home in the hands of negligent parents.  No.  Instead I'm going to talk to you about your children and the neglect they give their things, the things you have paid handsomely for, at school.  Starting with their backpacks.

Gardner Edgerton School District 231

Parents are spending way too much for school supplies.  More than ever in fact: The staggering costs of back to school supplies.

First of all, yes, you should buy your student a backpack.  Even if your student doesn't want a backpack, feeling backpacks are uncool, you should buy them one nonetheless and force them to use it.  I mean it!  (Force them).  They will not be prepared for learning missing what they need for class...all because they were too lazy to carry an item from home.  In some cases, where lockers are not available at school, backpacks become indispensable.  Similarly, backpacks allow your student to carry non-educational items, like food/snacks and water, meaning, they will not need to buy more expensive foodstuffs at school, and they'll have energy to think.

Unfortunately, for a parent, buying their student a backpack brings with it added parenting responsibility.  Backpacks reveal many things about a student.  Backpacks tell stories.  This is why, as a parent, I need you to:

1) Smell your adolescent and teen's backpack.  What are you smelling it for?  Marijuana.  Sorry...but backpacks are where medicine canisters or baggies containing marijuana are usually hidden.  Even if you don't suspect your son/daughter is using marijuana, the backpack will tell you whether or not they are hanging out with friends who do use the drug.  The smell is hard to mask.

2) Search the backpack randomly.  You will be doing three things here: A) Making sure your student is not carrying anything they shouldn't be carrying around B) Seeing whether or not your child, tween, early teen, is organized and doesn't just shove everything inside.  C) Keeping your student at bay, i.e., making sure they think twice about placing contraband inside.

I've done my job here as an educator to warn you about the dark side of backpacks, now onto why you shouldn't overspend on a backpack for your adolescent or teen.

Students Thrash Their Backpacks

It's a travesty how some kids treat their belongings.  The average student will have done the following to their backpack at least once a school year:

1) Tossed it on the ground from afar.
2) Let it drop on the ground while stationary.
3) Used it as a canvas and written on it (with a Sharpie or pen) or let a friend write on it.
4) Overstuffed it (with clothes, books, binders, etc.) beyond its design and capacity.
5) Used it to strike a buddy in jest.
6) Used it as a seat.
7) Used is as a headrest.
8) Let a friend borrow it.

Another Reason Why Not to Overspend on A Backpack

Backpacks are quite often stolen in public schools.  I can't say how it is at private school as I have never worked in one.  This is yet another element of public schooling that makes paying too much for items kids need for school a mistake parents often make.  Here's how to help your student prevent the theft of his/her backpack.

Make sure you stress to your kid to never leave their backpack unattended.  Have them pretend they are at the airport while at school.  Have them write their name on their backpack in Sharpie, big and bold before the first day of school.  Lastly, tell them not to let anyone borrow their backpack.  If it is "lost" by a "friend" who borrowed it, the school administration cannot consider this a theft.  If I had a nickel for every "friend" who "lost" an owner's item that was originally borrowed, I'd be...

How much should I spend on a Backpack?  What type of backpack should I buy for my adolescent/teen?

Don't spend more than $35 on a backpack.  For the reasons I have given you above, it is best if you err on the side of caution.

Buy a darker colored one (black, grey, navy blue) so your kid doesn't get too creative writing on it.  If you don't have to worry about this, then go ahead and allow your child to pick out a colorful one.

With these considerations in mind, I went online looking and found the perfect backpack for middle and high school students:

Jansport Backpack All Color Black Navy Grey Blue Purple Pink Green Red BAG-COLOR: Navy
(If you're considering buying one, please use this link and help keep me in the blogging business)

I see students with this classic backpack all of the time at school.  You can get it at Amazon for only $30.88 (a slew of colors) with free shipping!  Not a bad deal.

Okay, so in sum, there is more to backpacks than meets the eye.  I hope you have learned that it doesn't pay to let your student go crazy with their choice of backpack.  It has to be functional, durable, and graffiti discouraging.

Before I leave I want to refer you to a great article on how to extend the life of a backpack by keeping the zippers (the most likely place for a backpack to fail) in great condition all year long:

Thanks for reading!  C-ya next time!

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