More Michigan schools are using an online tool to help parents navigate back-to-school shopping. Instead of spending hours combing through […]
More Michigan schools are using an online tool to help parents navigate back-to-school shopping.
Instead of spending hours combing through store aisles looking for specific items to fill a child’s school supply list, parents can utilize TeacherLists, an online platform that links a digitized school supply list with prefilled shopping carts at retail giants like Amazon, Target, Walmart and Jet.com.
This year, 567 Michigan schools are using the platform.
“Our school district started using TeacherLists.com several years ago as a way to centralize the school supply lists and wish lists for all our classrooms from preschool through 12th grade,” says Sarah Ross-Koves, who teachers psychology and AP English literature at Carson City-Crystal High School north of Lansing.
“With one link, we can share to parents through e-mail and social media. Our back-to-school welcome letters don’t usually get mailed out to parents until the middle of August when many of the back-to-school sales have already passed. With TeacherLists the updates happen before school gets out, so parents have access as soon as they are ready.”
With lists from more than 50,000 schools around the country — that’s about a million individual classroom lists, with roughly 22 families per classroom — TeacherLists is a fast, five-minute alternative to what often tends to be a tedious and stressful shopping experience for parents.
“School supply lists are getting more and more specific,” says TeacherLists vice president of product and client services Dyanne Griffin. “Parents have to go to two or three stores to find the exact items.”
Most lists have 14-20 items, she says, and some ask for precise things like a blue pocket folder with three holes, a red pocket folder with two prongs: “It’s not always easy to find every single item in one stop.”
The lists are uploaded by schools, parents and retailers onto TeacherLists, then are digitized into a mobile-friendly platform that allows parents to pull up lists on their phone while shopping.
To stay economical, parents have an option to edit lists where they can delete or swap out supplies. Having four retailers to choose from, Griffin says, gives parents better selection to find the most affordable supplies for their child.
Rather than chasing down other parents after losing a school supply list, or making photocopies of lists, a convenient digital list is available in just a few clicks. Once a list is uploaded to TeacherLists, it’s populated with items in 48 hours and is sent to parents with links to the original list on a school’s website.
To buy a prefilled shopping cart, parents go through an outlet’s regular check-out process and the items are either shipped to their home or are available for pickup in-store at Target and Walmart.
“It’s a lot easier for parents who want to online shop,” says Griffin.
TeacherLists, based in Wrentham, Mass., and part of the parent company School Family Media — which helps bring parent involvement to the school level — was launched in 2013 as a supply list solution. Last year, they added Target as a retail option. This year, they added three more so parents could pick from multiple retailers.
A portion of every purchase is given to the Kids in Need Foundation, which provides school supplies to underprivileged kids around the country.
School supply lists for dozens of metro Detroit schools are available for download on TeacherLists, including Grosse Pointe (Parcells and Pierce middle schools, Kerby and Lewis Maire elementary schools, etc.); Detroit (Greenfield Union, Bagley Elementary School, Regent Park Scholars, etc.); plus schools in Dearborn, Warren, Hazel Park, Harper Woods, Hamtramck, Allen Park and Melvindale.