Buying school supplies

Kristen wonders about buying school supplies:

"Parents of elementary aged kids, do you buy all of the supplies on the list?

Teachers, do the kids actually use the things on the list or are there some things that you don't use or would rather have something different?"

I think it varies from school district to district, but in general, if the list comes directly from the teacher, you should buy exactly what's on it because the teacher wrote it and will use everything on it. If it comes from the school or district, hold off until the first day to find out what the teacher really wants.

How do school supplies work where you are? I went from NYC public, where the teacher gave us the list on the first day of school, to Ann Arbor public, where we don't buy any school supplies at all.

Teachers, how much input do you have on supply lists that you don't type up yourself? How much overlap is there usually between a list that comes from your school and what you actually use?

Is buying school supplies a purely American thing? Or do the rest of you have to buy your kids' crayons and paper, too?


(Unrelated: Here's a story about my almost sending out an obscene Christmas card a few years ago.)