STRAIGHT “A” SURVIVAL – Bringing your A game to Back to School Shopping

It seems like our summer vacations have barely ended and fall is still weeks away, but it’s time to turn our attention to getting the kiddos ready for school. You’ve got the wardrobe thing all sorted out, but there is more to back-to-school than just clothes and shoes. You need an assortment of gear for Straight A Survival! From kindergarten to college, here are some ideas that are sure to keep you on the Dean’s List!

1. Weathering the storm.  A walk to school in the rain is a certain invitation to play in puddles.  They are irresistible!  Let your little ones amuse themselves, but you need to keep them warm and dry.  There are many options in rain wear to choose from this year – ponchos, slickers with matching pants, or full one-piece coveralls – all are designed to let your kids have fun in the rain. Choose from classic yellow slickers, fun colors or sassy patterns like stripes and florals.  Character-themed jackets, boots and umbrellas are very popular this year as well. Look for ladybug or dinosaur styles for the littlest tykes; Disney and Minions are popular, too!

Rain boots, some with removable soles for easy washing – how cool is that? – are also a basic. You can opt for a more classic polka dotted or striped look, or you can match to a character raincoat.  And don’t forget the umbrellas – they even come in pint sizes for little hands! Belk has some of the cutest jackets to pick from, and don’t overlook Rack Room Shoes for some great rainboots. 

2. Let their inner artist out!  School work is not all black and white, so be sure the kids have plenty of fun colored or gel pens, pencils, markers, highlighters and crayons to keep their work interesting! Stickers and wacky character erasers can help make school work fun – and seriously, wanting to use the tools is half the battle to getting the job done!  A creative outlet is a sure way to keep kids focused and inspired.  Be sure to round out their toolbox with the essentials such as scissors, glue and rulers. Check out Barnes & Noble for some fun and creative supplies and pick up a classic pencil case to store all these goodies in one spot. Or choose from a great selection of glitter pencil cases at Michaels or Claire’s.

3. A carryall to carry it all. From tots to teens, a good quality backpack is essential. Books, notebooks, and homework all need a place to live while in route to home and class. Make sure they have two straps to distribute the weight evenly, and be sure not to overload it. It is important to choose the correct size – an oversized bag can put extra strain on your child’s back. A rolling backpack with a handle provides ease of travel, and many parents opt for this style.  With so many designs to choose from – characters, glitter, movie themes – you should be able to please even the pickiest child. Have a fashionista in the family? She will surely find something to her liking at Claire’s – they carry mini up to full sizes. You can also pick up a crossover bag while you are there and have it personalized at Lauren & Elizabeth. At Edwards Hallmark you will find a selection of Vera Bradley backpacks, totes and organizers. Those opting for a more rugged look can check out the selection at Eddie Bauer or choose a Patagonia or North Face pack from Coastal Urge.

4. It’s a hard drive life.  College freshmen will need a quality laptop to begin their first year on the right foot. Or maybe a tablet is more in line with their needs. This is an important purchase, and many factors need to be considered; weight, durability, RAM, battery life. Don’t just buy whatever is on sale; you need the right laptop for your student’s needs. Whatever the size, ensure the laptop can use external peripherals. Having plenty of USB ports allow for mice and bigger keyboards to be attached later, and you want something that isn’t going to be obsolete the minute you walk off the showroom floor. And finally, perhaps consider a laptop-tablet hybrid. These can handle a lot of work while giving you the flexibility and low cost of a tablet. You will also need to include an assortment of chargers, earbuds or headphones. The sales staff at hhgregg and Verizon can help you with all your laptop, tablet, and accessory questions and needs. Be sure to protect those purchases with a stylish cover or tote from Marshalls.

5. There’s no place like home.  Living away from home can be a tough adjustment for some college freshman, so make sure their dorm room is as comfy as possible.  Decorating a dorm room can be fun and allows them to create a space that is truly theirs in a brand new environment. Before you start picking out your new room colors and accessories, it’s important to check with the college to see which items are not permitted in the dorms. Soft bedding, down pillows, large fluffy towels will all make sure your kids can tuck in for an evening of studying or a good night’s sleep. And by all means, bring on the accessories – lamps, throws, team-specific desk accessories and wastebaskets all go a long way towards making a room feel like theirs. If you can afford the splurge, a mini fridge is a welcome addition.  Belk has a great selection of soft cottony linens that will be perfect. Pottery Barn offers up some great accessories that are fun and stylish. Top Toad has all the team gear you need. And for some fun flair, Cost Plus World Market has some super quirky things that could just be the thing to keep them smiling.

So before that last beach trip, family picnic or cookout, start stocking up on all the necessary back to school supplies. Give yourself enough time to ensure the best deals. Make sure your purchases reflect your kids’ styles – they’ll want to be a class standout. And we are sure they will appreciate your thoughtfulness earning you an A for effort!

Story by Paige Somervell

About the Author: As you can see Paige loves all things fashion, but she is also passionate about football, with the Carolina Panthers being her #1 team and rightly so, they made it to the SuperBowl. Whether she is at work or at play she is always in style.