Gearing up for back to school

Our favorite places and insider tips for tackling back-to-school shopping (Todor Tsvetkov / istock / July 23, 2013)

Back-to-school shopping signals the official end to the summer – but it doesn’t have to be a downer.

It’s possible to turn this experience into a way to get your child excited and ready to start a new school year fresh, explains Carla Goldberg, preschool director at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago

If you have older children, they can help you make the list – or even write it themselves.

“Children love using clipboards, and feel very official with them,” Goldberg says.

For slightly younger children, you can also make the list together – but you could draw pictures instead of words to accompany the items. Another option would be to look through the store circulars together and cut out the pictures to go along with the items and glue them next to the list.

Whatever direction you choose, be sure to bring the children with you to the store and have them cross off the items as you purchase them.

Here’s another reason why it’s great to have kids to help with the shopping:

“Older children can also help you price compare with circulars or on the Internet, where you can get the best deal,” Goldberg says.

We rounded up our favorite spots to shop and found some budget-friendly options as well.

For the busy mom -- Target

Check out sales at Target this week and bring a few coupons with you and you’ve got anything you could ever want at great prices. Be sure to check out the store’s new Cartwheel App as well, which allows customers to preload discounts onto their smart phones that cashers then scan at checkout. It’s easy to make this your one-stop-shop for everything from computer paper to desks to clothing to backpacks because Target stores tend to have it all. Or, save it as the last stop for everything you couldn’t find anywhere else. 

Details Locations throughout country. for more information. 


For budget-friendly supplies -- Staples

Go here for everything that would go in or on a desk: paper, pens, notebooks . . . But check out the circulars and other sales before heading out the door. They often have back-to-school deals and rebates that will make the printer paper, notebooks and pens as low as a cent. No joke.

Details Locations throughout counrty. for more information.


For school-appropriate fashion -- The Children’s Place

The clothing store stocks the cutest back-to-school staples for kids through size 14. What’s great about The Children’s Place is that it could be a one-stop-clothing shop because the store sells uniforms as well as everyday and party clothing. The prices are fabulous too. A pleated uniform polo dress sells for $17, while a pair of jeans is $16.50. Plus, it’s hard to pay full price here, as the clothing is nearly always on a very good sale (60 percent off is frequent). It can also last through a few hand-me-downs.

One unexpected find to snag here are the lunchboxes. Priced from $9 to $13, the insulated lunch totes come in fun designs and are easy to wipe down at the end of the day. Our lunchbox from The Children’s Place lasted the entire year with no funky odors.