Back-to-school shopping usually signals to children that the summer holidays are coming to an end and the routine lives they had before the break, is just around the corner.
Making the shopping experience fun for them can help to ease some of the anxiety and get them excited about going back to school.
This week, communication specialist with the Consumer Affairs Commission, Dorothy Campbell, shares with parents some tips on how to make back-to-school shopping not only fun, but also safe for children.
1. Get them in the frame of mind for shopping.
The first thing you have to do is to get the child participating in the discussion about school -- using the words, using the language, talking about books and bags. Talk about it as if it is a new adventure.
2. Shop as early as possible.
Where the shopping is concerned, I think the earlier you shop, the easier that child would be able to get to the position where they are more excited than anxious about going to school. So you go out and you get that little uniform and let them try on the uniform, take pictures if you have a camera. Let them try on the uniform with the socks and shoes and backpacks and lunch kits and so forth. Post that picture on the refrigerator and keep on telling them that "you are going back to school, you are a big boy now, a big girl now" or whatever.
3. Allow them to choose their supplies.
This week into next week, we will see real high activity on the streets where back-to-school shopping is concerned, but the part that will be fun for them is when you take them into the bookstores and let them choose their school supplies. They can decide what colour pencils they want, the type of crayons they want; let them chose their activity books and so on, so when they are going to school, they believe that they made this decision.
4. Shop for each child at different times.
If you are leaving home and you have more than one child, try not to do all the shopping at once. We have two weeks, so you can select when you shop for the older ones and when you shop for the younger ones. Try and do the younger ones in the early mornings if you have to ask for a couple hours off. Take them to the stores in the early mornings and get that over with when the shops are less crowded and when the parking lots are not so full so you can park near to the stores and walk, especially if you shop in the malls.
5. Have them fit their shoes and uniforms.
A lot of times we go out shopping for kids and we think about a shoe size, but each manufacturer uses a different cut for their style, so you might find a size three shoe that fits nicely in one brand and yet in another brand, the child might wear a three and a half. It is important to not only make it fun, but it is also important to get the best fit.
6. Be wary of friendly faces.
Don't be fooled by friendly and pleasant faces hanging in the stores who you think are other parents who you think simply love your child. Pay attention; you don't know who is who.
7. Watch what they pick up.
In some bookstores, some of the school supplies are not the safest kinds. If you are buying crayons, look out for non-toxic. Stick to the brand that you know and if you are not sure, ask another parent. Sometimes the school will put on the booklist the recommended brands and that is because they know the ones that are non-toxic. The little ones tend to bite on the crayons so you have to ensure that they don't get any lead poisoning. Also, try not to let them pick up dividers and things with sharp edges which are in the stores.
8. Wear something that they can hold onto.
Whatever works, if it means wrapping a belt around your waist and the child holding onto the belt, do that. If it means putting them in a trolley and you carry the things you're picking up in your hands and find space between, do that. If they are really small, pick them up. It might feel a little bit tiring, but ask the bookstore for assistance, because a lot of them have store clerks that will take the list from you and pick up as you go along.
-- Nadine Wilson