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Back to School buying guide

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Back to School

Summer holidays are almost over, and whether you and your children are happy, depressed, or nervous at the thought, it’s time to go back-to-school shopping.

Your child will probably need new clothes, supplies, and shoes, as last year’s items have been outgrown or worn out. Shopping for all this gear at once can be overwhelming, not to mention expensive, but Price Inspector can help you find everything you need, all at the cheapest prices in the UK.

School Uniforms for Boys and Girls

Most schools will require your child to wear a uniform. First, check your individual school’s uniform requirements, and then shop Price Inspector for the best prices that meet the rules.

A school uniform for boys may include a boys school blazer, a short sleeve or long sleeve shirt, and trousers, most commonly black. Depending on the school, it may also include a school tie, although this is generally optional in primary schools. Popular colours for blazers include navy, black, and green. Some schools may allow more casual shirts, such as a boys long sleeve school rugby shirt or boys school polo shirt. For athletic practices or PE class, there may be a separate school tracksuit.

Girls uniforms may include a skirt or girls school pleat skirt such as a kilt that may be tartan. Other school uniforms might include a blue or navy school pinafore. As with boys, the uniform may include a blazer, which might be maroon, black, or green. Other choices for chilly weather include a school coat, such as a pink school coat, or a girls school cardigan. Make sure your daughter has appropriate tights or socks, depending on the school’s uniform code. Girls may also choose to wear trousers, usually black. For PE class, she might want a netball skirt.

School Bags

Regardless of your child’s age or school year, every student will need a bag to carry supplies, homework, lunch, or other essential items. A girls school bag and a boys school bag generally only differ in colour and design, not in functionality. For example, a popular colour for a girls school backpack is pink, while a boys school backpack will more likely be black or blue.

Popular styles include theme backpacks, such as your child’s favourite cartoon character or sports star, leather backpacks, backpacks on wheels, and single strap backpacks. Theme backpacks are usually smaller, made specifically for children, and they may not be as well-made as adult backpacks. Leather backpacks offer a classic look, which may be preferred by older students. Wheeled backpacks are a great option if your student routinely carries heavy loads, but remember that it will still need to be lifted up stairs or over snow, for example. A single strap backpack hugs your child’s natural shape and balances the weight well, usually on a padded strap, but they are not meant for large loads.

Your child may also need a lunch box or bag. As with backpacks, there are many different styles and designs. The first consideration is safety. Make sure it is free of lead, BPA, and phthalates, that it can be washed, and that it’s appropriately sized. Next, decide on options such as insulated, plain versus themed designs, and how much you want to spend. If your child misplaces items easily, you might not want to buy an expensive bag or box that will have to be replaced. A larger box more easily accommodates an insulated bowl of hot food, while a smaller one fits better in the backpack. Many parents find they prefer to have two different lunch boxes per child, in case of loss, damage, or different lunch needs.

School Stationery

Your child’s school has probably given you a list of required supplies, which will vary depending on your child’s age and school year. There will be textbooks for classes, and then there are popular books for girls and boys that they may read for fun or for book reports. Older students may also require a dictionary to help with spelling and word choice. A small paperback version works well if it must be carried in the backpack, while a hardback edition is good for home use.

Younger students will probably need crayons, all students will need pencils, and older students need pens. A pencil sharpener may be required for each student to avoid long lines at the classroom sharpener. Some schools also require pencil cases, which are available in popular colours and designs for both girls and boys pencil case, such as Peppa Pig or Ben 10.

Another common school supply is a calculator, which now come in fun colours like pink or in unusual shapes, all designed to make maths more fun.

Other popular school supplies include folders, a protractor, compass, notepads, and Tippex correction fluid. Check with your school to see if any specific brand, variety, or size is required for each item. Name tags are also a great way to keep items from getting lost. Choose iron-on or sew-in labels are great for clothing items, while sticky labels are good for supplies.

If you also have a child in preschool, make him feel include in the back-to-school fun by getting some pre school books. They are a great way to start a love of books, as well as teaching early concepts such as recognizing numbers, letters, and colours.

School Shoes

Some school uniforms required uniform school shoes, while others just have safety restrictions such as limiting heel heights or banning platform soles for girls school shoes. If you have the flexibility to choose, plimsolls are a comfortable, affordable option. They are available in gusset, Velcro, and lace-up styles, and they are made in many different colours, making it easy to coordinate with your school uniform colours. If you have a teenage daughter, she may prefer the more sophisticated look of wearing pumps.

If you’re not sure whether you need new shoes, inspect the current shoes for worn areas or stressed seams. Bulging or worn sides may indicate that the shoe is too narrow, while toes bending upwards indicate they aren’t long enough. Also look for adequate tread on the soles.

Regardless of the style and material of the shoe, make sure it is the correct size and fits comfortably, especially if your child has a long walk to school. Blisters or pinched toes are possible in poorly fitting shoes. Even if you want to buy online, take your child to a shoe shop to get a proper measurement first. This will ensure that you are buying the correct size. Although you may be tempted to buy a larger size to make them last longer, this is not good for your child’s feet.

This is also a good time to consider buying new boys or girls’ football boots. Check the current shoes to make sure they still fit correctly and are in good condition. Otherwise, go ahead and replace them for the fall season.

Back to School Buying tips

If your child is just starting school or if you’ve made some shopping mistakes in past school years, you may be feeling nervous about the idea of back-to-school shopping. To help you out, Price Inspector has put together some buying tips to make the process easier.

  • Look for a balance between price and quality. You don’t want to buy very expensive items if your child is likely to lose or outgrow them quickly. On the other hand, you don’t want to waste money by having to replace a shoddy item that wore out too soon. This is especially true of backpacks, which many children drag on the ground.
  • Don’t forget to buy new clothes for their after-school activities as well, especially if it’s a new activity for them.
  • Plan your shopping list carefully to avoid forgotten items or buying impulse items you don’t really need.
  • Evaluate your child’s current clothing, getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit or is in poor condition. This will make it easier to know what you need to buy, as well as making room for the new items.
  • Get your child involved if there are major decisions to be made, such as trousers versus skirts or backpack colour and design. Letting your child choose these items may help get them excited about school, or at least not complain because they hate what you picked.
  • On the other hand, don’t get your child involved for small decisions. For example, you can buy a plain folder for a fraction of the price of a fancy Barbie or Transformers one. This may save you considerable money (and time and frustration) by avoiding battles for trendy items they don’t need.
  • Be careful about backpack size and weight. Children are carrying more than ever in their backpacks, and this can damage their backs. To ensure even weight distribution, the bag should not be larger than your child’s back. It should rest 2.5 to 5 cm below the shoulders, and not more than 10 cm below the waistline (belly button height). The safe weight will depend on your child’s weight. No one should carry more than 11 kg, while younger children should not carry more than 2.25 kg.
  • Other considerations for a backpack include the durability, comfort, and size. Look for a backpack with long-lasting appeal, rather than one so trendy that it will be outdated by spring. Also look for useful features, such as a clip for a key ring or internal pockets for smaller items.
  • Don’t forget to buy supplies for use at home. Many retailers offer great deals on school supplies like pencils and paper, which is great to have for homework or home office use. Buy some extra items for use later in the year as well, to replace items that have been lost, worn out, or used up.
  • Schools are naturally full of germs, so consider items such pocket-sized tissues or mini bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • For older students without a mobile phone, an organizational planner book is a great way to help them remember assignment dates.
  • Locker organizers are a must-have to prevent items from getting lost at the bottom of the locker. Your child may also want decorative items like magnets, a magnetic mirror, or pictures of their favourite teen idol.
  • Invest in high-quality items for tools that will not need to be replaced every year, such as a heavy-duty stapler for home use, a good combination lock for the locker, or a scientific calculator. While you spend more money this year, you won’t have to replace it every year.
  • Make sure your child has an appropriate place to complete homework assignments. Younger children may need more assistance, so a desk near the kitchen, home office, or wherever a parent is likely to be, makes sense. Older children have more complex assignments, so a quiet place to escape from siblings is a good option. Just make sure it’s comfortable and well-lit.
  • Unless your school specifies a particular brand, you can usually save money by buying generic school supply brands, such as for pencils and paper.
Buying Guide to Back to School
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