Budgeting is a huge factor as to what and when you can buy supplies for your classroom. A teacher will question whether it is a want for the classroom or a need? Whichever one they decide, In general, teachers will encounter very tight budgets and end up buying supplies out of their own pockets. I will let you know how I overcame the budget crisis.
A little about me first. I am a very artistic and creative soul, so having a creative outlet for me was as important as providing my students with a very robust curriculum and opportunities for learning. So, I created my classroom to allow for me and my student's artistic juices to flow.
Whatever your likes and interests are, make sure to use that as a way to create your program or classroom. If you love science, there are a plethora of ways to obtain supplies to fit those interests without breaking the bank. If you love the outdoors, same thing. Find ways that you can incorporate your interests into your program/classroom. That will create a unique curriculum for your students And fulfill your outlet as well.
- I had to become very creative as to how to obtain supplies that would allow for this. First and foremost, network! Meeting others in the community that are in your same line of work will connect you with many resources. For me, being part of TOTs (Teaching Others to Succeed) a local child care support group, was a huge help for me. People in this field are more than generous and willing to help and share things from gear, supplies, recycled paper, ideas, etc. So go out there and find a local group and get connected.
- Asking your families (clients) is a great way to be able to obtain items that you want. Make a Wish List and place it out by the log-in sheet if you don’t want to ask personally. You may have one or two families that would be more than happy to contribute without hesitance.
- A supply fee is also a way to go around that. Some programs do a supply fee once or twice a year. Make sure it’s on your Parent Handbook and Tuition Rates to avoid any resistance from families.
- We talked about networking but also try cold calling businesses in your area. Some businesses would be more than extremely happy to help. I’ve called printing businesses, hardware stores, second-hand stores, woodworking factories (for a special wood project we did), garden centers, and local artists in the area that may be able to lend you a hand on a special project. You could also apply to big companies like Walmart and Target for gift cards for specific items. With these big corporations, it’s a little more than just calling. You’ll need to write a letter on letterhead and then find a manager. There are more steps, but it doesn’t hurt to try! The worst someone could say is “no” and then you move on.
The lesson to take from all this is that an inflexible budget should not get in the way of forming your program to fit you and your student’s needs. There are resources and wonderful people that are always happy to help. Hope you find something within these tips to help build your program or classroom!
Pictures below show my students dissecting flower parts brought in from a student’s garden. The mother was so excited to be able to share. All you have to do is Ask!