How do you know what to buy (and not buy) during Back to School?

Read Time:  min |  Counselor Life

When the Back to School season arrives, it really arrives. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned school counselor, the allure of new counseling resources is difficult to resist. So what should you buy and when should you be audibly telling yourself to put something down in Target? Just us?

Check out some tips from Sara from The Responsive Counselor and Laura from Social Emotional Workshop and proceed through Back to School with a plan that's right for you.

Think Use & Think Long-Term

It's back to school season in our hearts, minds, and in ALL of the stores. I'm already a bit of a shopaholic and I'll admit that when the end of July comes, I'm ready to buy #allthethings in hopes that they will all magically and drastically improve my counseling program. After moving offices two times in the last two years, I was hit in the face with the amount of items I bought (with my own money!) and then never used. Learn from my mistakes! Keep the following questions and ideas in mind as you shop:

  • What are you going to use it for? If you don't have an answer for this, don't buy it. "I'm sure I'll use this!" is a lie we tell ourselves.
  • Will I use it one time or throughout the year? Props are super cool, but if you have a small space, they may not be worth it for a lesson you deliver to six classes and then don't need it again. 
  • Target Dollar Spot Hits: dry erase pockets, blank books, fidgets/sensory tools
  • Other BTS Wins I've Bought: Individual dry erase boards, comfy chairs
Sara, The Responsive Counselor

Visit my TPT store and get counseling ideas on my blog. Let's connect on Instagram!

Need and Want

Before you even walk into a store, browse on TPT, or open up a catalog with counseling tools, make a (short) list. This list is what you know you will need during the first 6 weeks of school. Use your needs assessment, think about new initiatives, and what you were sorely missing last year. 

Often my list did not include a $40 counseling game from a catalog, but the following:

  • More fidgets. Those things get gross!
  • Supplies for crafts and projects. Careful with this one, stick to the staples. A bag of feathers and tacky glue sat on my shelf mocking me for years.
  • One new traditional game that I could modify for counseling.
  • Prize box items for students. Not too many because you never know what is going to be the new favorite. 
  • Books related to school rules, recess, or feelings. These are all things we covered in the first 6 weeks or before we covered anything else.

After the first 6 weeks, make a want list. This list will now be based on the students in front of you, the comments from teachers, and conversations with admin. Try to get administration to fund some of these items. TPT has a new feature, ClassFund, where PTAs, parents, admin, friends, family or community can donate to TPT resources for your counseling program. Definitely check that out for your after back to school want list.

Laura, Social Emotional Workshop

Visit my TPT store and get counseling ideas on my blog. Let's connect on Instagram!

What are your back to school essentials?

Check out our Ultimate School Counselor Supply List for other suggestions.

How do you know what to buy  and not buy  during BTS ?