PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A School District of Philadelphia educator offers some advice for parents who are already eyeing the “back to school” supply displays at local stores.

Kimberly Gavin (below right) teaches at William Cramp Elementary School on Mascher Street in Kensington, and she does not want you to cave in to the pressure to buy the 100-pack of crayons.

gavin kim side durham Part 2:  A Teachers Advice On School Supplies

(Elementary school teacher Kimberly Gavin. Credit: Michelle Durham)

“We don’t need any more pressure,” she tells parents and students.  “Life itself has enough pressure.   So, take a deep breath.  It’s OK if you don’t have 25 pens of various colors. You need one pen, you need a pencil and an eraser, loose-leaf paper, and maybe highlighters for reading assignments.”

Gavin says it’s more important to find the right kind of pen that will help those struggling to learn how to write.  Beyond that, she says, don’t fall for the latest marketing gimmick.

“You know, half the time you buy something, by October they are not using it. The fancy rulers, folders, they are not even using them because it’s not practical,” she says.

And in the neighborhood she works in, where parents have limited access to stores and transportation to get the stores, she advises parents that before they go shopping again, they should look to see what they already have.

“If I don’t use something from the year before, I put it in a big tub.  And (the following school year) it’s like Christmas in September — ‘Oooh, I didn’t know I had that!’  That’s the great thing about supplies: they don’t expire.  It’s not like a carton of milk.”

Besides, Gavin says, the real focus of going back to school should be on something else entirely.

“Talk to your children about what they might be concerned about. What are they looking forward to in the new year?  Get them talking about all those exciting things — it gets them excited about wanting to go back.”

At the same time, she says, get them back on a schedule.   Meals and sleep at the same time every day go a long way to preparing your kids for the first school bell.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060