Czech parents brace for cost of kids’ supplies as new school year looms

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

In ten days’ time or so school-age children will find themselves returning to the classroom after long summer holidays, the hottest on record since 1880. In the run-up, parents will feel a new burn – this time in their pocket, as they line up to buy school supplies. According to a report by Czech Radio, parents will spend – on average – at least 2,000 crowns on supplies and the parents of first-graders even more: children’s “aktovky” - ergonomically-designed schoolbags required by students, cost that alone.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The country will see 120,000 new first graders on September 1st. Many of them are looking forward to their first day of school, but their parents already have their pocketbooks out, tabulating what the start of the new school year will cost. School fees, clothes, sports items, donations and extracurricular activities from music to sport, all cut into the family budget. But the first are new school supplies which will be selling “like hotcakes”.

Already, ads are bombarding parents on TV and the internet. Pencils, erasers, crayons, markers, glue, safety scissors are all par for course, but more thought is required when choosing the proper school bag. A spokeswoman for one hypermarket chain, Barbora Šimečková, told Czech Radio that when it came to those, kids were most often wowed by recognisable animated characters rather than design or quality. That decision is one which should be carefully weighed by parents, considering weight and overall fit. A study by the chain found that most parents – some 70 percent – plans on spending around 2,000 crowns on their child’s schoolbag alone; 11 percent said they expected to spend upwards of 3,000.

Among popular arts supplies? The big hit this season this year are reportedly erasable markers but many parents will breathe a sigh of relief that last year’s biggest fad – knittable rubber band bracelets – has long peaked. At least the markers will serve a useful purpose, parents can tell themselves.

As Jiří Paták, the director of the website Chytrý Honza, reminded Czech Radio, supplies are of course only a fraction of the costs cutting into the regular family monthly budget. Hundreds, if not thousands more crowns will go towards after-school activities.