Wednesday, September 06, 2006

School Supply Madness, Part One

I'm certain that somewhere in France this week, a parent is having a nervous breakdown over school supplies. French teachers demand uniformity in the type of notebooks, binders and paper students use, and the resulting school supply lists are notoriously daunting.

My youngest daughter has just started 8th grade. Her list -- handed out at the end of 7th grade -- contained 46 different items. We attempted to buy them all on one shopping trip, but gave up, exhausted, after purchasing about 29. So this meant another trip back to finish up --at another supermarket, of course, because the first one lacked plenty of key items.

My eldest just started high school and faced a different system. The school doesn't send out a list in June; on the first day of class each teacher announces what the students will need . The problem is, with 10 different subjects and teachers, the "first day of class" lasts all week. And generally, the message to the students is clear: you need this for yesterday. So every evening this week, we have gone on a school supply run. We've made a total of five so far, and our enthusiasm is definitely diminishing.


Steve said...

Don't they have the internet in France yet? (Ok, ok, ok, that was a joke, people!)

Seriously, though... for the 8th grader, wouldn't it be convenient if all supplies could simply be ordered over the web, at your leisure over the summer? And for the high-schooler, why can't they post supply lists on the web, say, a week before school starts?

I know, such an idealist -- peace, love, and hyper-organization for all the world.

misschrisc said...

Oh I love buying school supplies. Five days in a row sounds like a lot though.

angela said...

I sympathise here as my son's going into terminale and the stationery thing is one I won't miss.
However last year the school encouraged the students to buy a bloc notes pad. The lessons were done on the pad and the sheets then transferred into the relevant classeurs at home. It really works and no excruciatingly heavy bags.
PS Is it true that teachers are given stock options for the big stationery companies as part of their salaries?

monique said...

If you were given the list for the younger one in June, why do you wait till now?
For the elder one, they don't have lessons with each teacher every schoolday! Two school supply run should be enough! Be honest! You like it!
About the number of items, do you remember the american lists? You seem to have forgotten or you would not be surprised!

bcinfrance said...

Monique seemed a little worked up about my post -- wait 'til she sees part two -- but to answer her questions:

Yes, I got the list for the younger one at the end of June but a.) we left for the USA just a few days after school got out, so not much time there and b.)where I live,in Aveyron, the stores really aren't fully stocked with the supplies until August anyway.

For the elder one, I swear she had new teachers every single day from Monday until Thursday, so she got new requests on each of these days.

"You like it!" I don't think so...

This summer I had a chance to compare the American lists with my daughter's cousins and they were much, much simpler. Sorry to disappoint you!

And finally, all of my French friends complain about the same thing. So I don't think my ideas have much to do with being American, although as an American I can look at the phenomonen in a more bemused fashion.

Run Around Paris said...

Wow, with all of those supplies, how much room does each student have in their lockers/desks?

Pardon My French said...

I talked about this post with a few parents here and they were all in agreement with you! Apparently this is a very good topic for discussion around this time of year. Based on these conversations, I'm going to predict Part II of your school supply story -- does it, by any chance, involve a graphic calculator?

bcinfrance said...

Actually, I hadn't even thought about the graphic calculator because my husband dealt with buying it. I think that set us back about 80 euros.

For the locker questions, some schools have them, some schools don't! My daughters bring home backpacks weighing sometimes upwards of 20 pounds (this will be in Part 2!)