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4 reasons your kid doesn’t need a “Schulranzen” in the US

I loved my dark blue Scout “Schulranzen” when I was a kid all through primary school. So when my daughter was ready to enter Kindergarten (equivalent with “Vorschule”) in the US, I wanted her to have one of her own. We spent a big part of our summer vacation in Germany shopping for the perfect “Schulranzen” evaluating all the new brands, shapes, colors and character adornments on the market these days…

We finally found “the one” in pink and green with a cute hedgehog design and the not so cute price tag of 250 Euros. It was super light while super sturdy, plus, it came with a matching pencil case, a wallet, and a bag to transport her exercise clothes in. Check, check, and check!

To my big surprise none of that was necessary. On day one I noticed that all the 5-year old Kindergarteners arrived with a simple backpack (some of them so big that they were hanging  down to their knees) and soon I found out why an investment of around $30 would have been totally sufficient:

 

  1. Kids don’t carry any books in Primary school

This, in fact, is driving me crazy… we only get lots and lots of copied down paper or ripped out math workbook pages. No books to carry also means no way to check for parents what they are learning, not to mention the environmental cost…

 

  1. Kids don’t need to bring their own pencil cases

Instead you will get a list of supplies you have to buy at the beginning of the school year and the teacher will hand out boxes of pencils, crayons or other material as needed. No schlepping, but the down side is that kids don’t learn to keep their pencil case in order.

 

  1. Kids don’t change for physical education / sports

No need for that fancy sports bag. Kids are encouraged to wear sneakers on the day they have gym class, but will not change out of their regular clothes.

 

  1. Schools offer free lunch (and breakfast!)

Public schools in New York offer free breakfast and lunch for all children. Unless you have a picky eater (like me) the only thing left to pack is a light snack. And some classes especially in the lower grades also organize that for the whole class (each family provides snacks for one or two weeks for everyone on class).

 

So unless your kids (or you) have your heart set on a pretty Scout or McNeill (both of which are German companies, by the way), I recommend to go with the regular backpack option. There were a few advantages though to having a “Schulranzen”: My daughter was able to use it as a seat (I mentioned the sturdy part), it lasted 4 years (before It became to uncool), and I was able to easily spot her in a crowd….

 

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