This year’s back-to-school experience may be significantly different from anything you’ve experienced in the past. The COVID-19 crisis is not only affecting how schools work, but how children learn – and you need to know how to deal with all the possible changes.
Why Back to School is Different This Year
This is the time of year when parents start preparing to send their kids back to school. That typically meant buying all sorts of school supplies, from notebooks and markers to backpacks and computers. Going back to school during COVID-19, however, is proving to be quite different.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, schools around the country are preparing for a variety of learning models. Some schools are opening fully for in-person learning, others are embracing full-time distance learning, and many more are adopting some sort of hybrid model with a mix of in-school and distance learning.
Whatever model your children’s schools are embracing, you need to start preparing for the new school year.
Preparing for Physical Schooling
Many school districts across the country are opening their school buildings for the first time since March. If your children are heading back to school in person, they’re going to need all the typical supplies plus a few additions.
Traditional School Supplies
No matter how your children are doing school this fall – at home or in-class – they are going to need the usual school supplies for their grade level. These supplies typically include:
- Index cards
- Pencils, pens, crayons, markers, and highlighters
- Glue sticks
Crayola offers an Elementary Back to School Essentials pack that includes most of these supplies, available for less than $30 from Amazon.
Clothing and Backpacks
There are other traditional items you may need if your kids are physically attending school full- or part-time. These may include:
- School clothes
- Gym clothes and gym shoes
- Backpacks (Target and Walmart both offer a good selection of backpacks by grade level and budget)
This is one instance where distance learning can save you money. Your children don’t need new clothes if they’re not leaving home, and probably don’t need backpacks, either. If your children are going back for in-person learning, however, you may need to head to your favorite discount or department store (or shop online) to pick out some new clothes.
Embracing Safety in the Classroom
Whether your school is offering full-time in-class education or a hybrid part-time model, your children will need some safety-related items for protection against the coronavirus. Make sure you purchase plenty of the following:
- Face masks (at least two – check out the selection from Face Masks for Kids, most priced at $13.99)
- Hand sanitizer (60% or higher, alcohol-based)
Preparing for Distance Learning
Given the risk involved with opening school buildings, many school districts are offering the option of either part-time or full-time distance learning. When your kids are doing school from home, they need a good learning environment, supportive technology, and perhaps learning assistance in the form of tutoring. That could mean more things to purchase before school starts.
Whether your kids are in elementary school or college, they need someplace to do their schoolwork. When all they had was an hour or two of homework, the kitchen table might have sufficed, but with all-day distance learning, they may need a dedicated workspace.
If you have the room, purchasing a decent desk makes all the difference in the world. A big executive-type desk is probably a bit overkill. Instead, look for a lower-cost student desk or computer desk. Both Ikea and Target have a good variety of student desks under $100.
Naturally, your child will need a chair for that desk. You don’t have to buy an uber-expensive ergonomic chair, but you still need something that will be comfortable and supportive for several hours at a time. Amazon and Office Depot both offer a wide selection of office chairs that should do the trick, many priced under $100.
Chances are your children’s school supplied them with an iPad or laptop computer to use at home. If not, you’ll need to either share your home computer or purchase a new device just for schoolwork. Best Buy has a Student Hub with links to technology for students of various levels and needs. It’s a good place to start.
Whether your children have school-supplied tech, or you buy your own, they may need a printer. There will always be schoolwork and forms that need printing. Look for a color inkjet and maybe even a multi-function or all-in-one model that also offers copying and scanning. Best Buy has printers as low as $60 – make sure you also stock up on paper and ink cartridges!
If your children are using iPads for school, consider purchasing an iPad keyboard. It’s tough to type with your fingers on the iPad screen; an external Bluetooth keyboard, like those sold by Logitech, may help your children be more productive.
When the big kids are doing school online, you’re doing Zoom meetings from home, and the younger kids are likely streaming video, your home Wi-Fi network can quickly get overloaded. If your Internet starts to slow down, it’s time to upgrade to a more powerful Wi-Fi router. Amazon offers a good selection of Wi-Fi routers for under $100, although if you have a lot of people connecting at once, you may want to go with something even more powerful. If your Internet is still slow, you may also want to upgrade to a faster plan from your Internet service provider.
Last spring, many parents discovered that their children couldn’t do distance learning on their own. If you don’t have the time or expertise to be their at-home teacher, consider hiring an online or in-person tutor to supplement their school’s distance learning.
Many companies are offering online tutoring. You typically sign up for a specified number of hours per week or per month and choose the topics of focus. Pricing is all over the board, however. For example, Chegg charges $6.95/lesson, eTutorWorld starts at $21/lesson, and Tutor.com starts at $40 for one hour of tutoring per month.
Let Mariner Finance Help You Pay for Back to School This Year
As you can see, all these back to school supplies – especially those needed for distance learning – can quickly add up to big bucks. You may want to consider taking out a personal loan to finance your back to school purchases. With more than 470 branches in 24 states, Mariner Finance may be able to help you choose the right personal loan for your situation. We offer personal loans from $1,000 to $25,000, depending on income and credit history.
Are you looking for a way to pay for all those back to school expenses? Mariner Finance may be able help with a personal loan that fits your needs.