Empower Your University Bound Kid with More than Just Supplies

When it comes to preparing your college and university bound kids for the upcoming school year, you’ve likely spent the majority of your time calculating costs, move-in arrangements, and comparing laptop options. And no doubt about it, all of those things are crucial for success while living and studying in post-secondary education settings. But there are other things to consider – things that shouldn’t be overlooked – that may seem simple, but need to be addressed before even one poster or string of decorative dorm lights gets packed into the family minivan.

Start by assessing your teen’s independence level. How independent is your teen, really? Be honest with yourself here. Even if they are living at a school close enough to visit home on a whim, they will be in charge of their own lives for the most part from September to April. Can your child use a coin operated washer? Avoid perpetuating the cliché of homeward bound college kid travelling with 13 overflowing garbage bags of dirty laundry come Thanksgiving; get that kid in front of a laundromat washer now. Explain how and when to use bleach and stain removers, and which clothes should be hung to dry or laid flat. (Or send them with wash and wear only, which is best.)

There are other simple things kids can do to empower themselves and we parents can help them learn these things by running an “Independent Living 101” Crash Course this summer with things like packing a simple first aid kit together for their dorm room, with emergency numbers on top for campus resources. You won’t want your teen running to his dorm supervisor for some antibacterial cream and a bandage for every paper cut, so stock them up!

You can also buy a second small plastic bin to house sewing needles, hem tape, a few basic colours of thread, a good pair of scissors, and even a spare button or two. Now, show them how to use these things, or enlist a friend or neighbour if truthfully you need help also. See? You can learn *together!* There’s no need to become a master tailor, but knowing how to fix a split seam or missing button will ensure that your child is interview-ready one day, and isn’t this the whole point of getting them a great education?

Our teenagers living apart from us and alone is a scary thought, but you know what is even scarier? Our teenagers living away from us NOT alone – because freshman dormitories are essentially peer villages where the average citizen is 19 years old. And yes, everything is going to be fine, but arming our kids with even some basic life skills that may have dropped through the cracks during the first 18 years of life is important.

Pack a bin labelled “necessities” for move-in day, and leave it wordlessly as you exit the building. Stock it with cleaning supplies, paper towels, garbage bags, laundry detergent, extra toilet paper (dorm paper is basically sandpaper), and coffee supplies. This is what parenting a college or university-bound teen is all about: you, giving them the tools for success, and letting them go get it.

It’s going to be a great year!

Stay updated with all things Staples this summer by checking out our back to school centre at www.staples.ca/bts

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