My five-year-old is heading to kindergarten in September. (I don't want to talk about it yet.) We received a list of school supplies back in April at kindergarten orientation, so last week I headed out to procure them. I admit it, my first stop was Pottery Barn Kids. I AM A SUCKER FOR CUTE BACKPACKS. We already HAVE a PBK backpack, but it's a size small, and our school supply list specified that my son was to come to school with an ADULT-sized backpack.
I was mystified by this, but after speaking with the associate at PBK, I understood why: most teachers expect kids to able to fit folders (without bending them), school projects, and lunch bags INSIDE their backpacks - even kindergarteners. The size of your kindergartener does not change the fact that they need to bring home folders of papers and homework, even if an adult-sized backpack absolutely dwarfs them. She even went as far as to tell me that lots of parents purchase the smaller backpack (assuming it's all their kid can handle, size-wise) and end up returning them for the larger size after the first day of school. Even though the size of the kid is appropriate for a small backpack, NOTHING a teacher wants to send home can fit in it without being folded, smushed, or balled up. And forget fitting in a picture book from the library! (Can you see the light bulb going off in my head at this point? I GET IT NOW!)
But when I picked up a LARGE backpack at PBK, I almost fell over, too. Look, as adorable as they are, they're not ideal for a younger elementary school child. For starters, my kid is just not going to need a bunch of organizational pockets. He won't be bringing crayons and pencils home with him; he won't be needing a place to stash his calculator or his phone. I am pretty sure the school discourages all manner of TOYS being brought to school. And all the buckles and zippers and sturdy lining and padding starts to add up - until the backpack itself felt super heavy, even without anything in it.
I mean, HONESTLY, whose kid is heading to school with an iPad, for crying out loud? Are these the same people who use money as toilet paper?!
Anyway, so off to Target we went, where I went ahead and bought him what seemed like an obscenely large backpack (ADULT SIZED! ITS FREAKING ENORMOUS!) but lacked a lot of pockets and zippers and padding, or pretty much ANY bells and whistles... it's basically a big shell of a backpack, with one zippered pocket on the front. It might not be the highest-quality backpack, but I certainly expect it to last the full year, since he won't be dragging textbooks or other heavy items back and forth to school. And once he's a little bigger, I'll be HAPPY to invest in a quality, padded backpack from PBK or LLBean or Lands' End - one that will last us several years and be more of an investment than something we need to replace every year.
Anyway, just my take, from someone who did the comparison shopping for you.
[photo credit: potterybarnkids.com]