Putting Out an APB for Lost Items

I was asked the other day about lost items. More specifically, kids and lost items. We all have days don’t we when we send our children off to school dressed in pants, shirt, socks, shoes, jacket, backpack, and perhaps glasses. Only to find these same kids tottering off the school bus without the jacket or missing a composition book.

Here’s how I handle lost stuff…by age:

For a preschooler and kindergarteners

  • I assume that stuff will get lost all the time.
  • I label everything with a Sharpie pen. Fortunately for me, all 3 kids and my husband and I share the same first initial and last name. Makes sharing hats, gloves, snowboots, so much easier. Less stuff gets lost if labeled.
  • I talk to little ones about the cost of items, how sad they would be to lose a special shirt, and how much work is it for their preschool teacher to have to find missing items all day long.
Lost & Found

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk.

For elementary schoolers

  • I introduce or re-introduce the concept of money. For instance, “Grandma bought you that fuzzy sweatshirt. You know it cost a lot of money. So you need to keep track of your stuff. If you want to take off your sweatshirt, you can put it in your backpack right away. I would hate to go to the Lost & Found shelf and not find the sweatshirt.”

For middle and high schoolers

  • I don’t have to worry about them losing any clothes, shoes, or jackets that they either purchased with their own money or chose as an Xmas/birthday gift from a grandparent. My kids NEVER lose anything special to them.
  • Now, we have had an issue with expensive electronics. I told my girls that they weren’t allowed to take an ipod/itouch/mp3 player to school for use on the schoolbus. I tell them that these items are costly and cannot be replaced.
  • Once my girls started middle school I started loosening rules right, left, and center. First rule to go was the No ipod rule. My 6th grader begged to be able to listen to her music rather than having to hear all the kids talking loudly on the bus. She “got” the concept of money and the value of objects and still has the ipod she got as a 9-year-old.
  • Next rule to go was the No Cell Phone rule. By the end of 7th grade I relented as my tween was coming home to an empty house every so often. I wanted to be sure she had a way to call me if she forgot her key. She was very careful with her phone. Her phone came in handy the couple of days when it was too foggy for me to see whether or not she got safely on the bus.

Back when my teen was 10, we drove to Williamsburg. We had a new van with very deep cup holders. As we pulled in to a gas station, I unloaded my youngest and my oldest’s ipod fell out of the van on to the ground. We had a long discussion about where to store an item…a valuable item…and how much it costs to replace a costly item. I also told her that although her name and phone number were engraved on the back of the ipod, it was unlikely that anyone would call us to report it. Sad state of human affairs, right?!

It’s easy to get frustrated with kids and their knack for losing stuff. Here’s how I deal…
  • I look at a child losing items as a way to teach the child the value of the money used to purchase the item. A case in point…when my 1st grader constantly left/forgot her composition book at school, I would drive her and her younger siblings to school to retrieve the lost book. One day I realized that I wasn’t helping her at all. I told her that I wouldn’t drive her to school again. I told her that she would have to call a friend and have the friend tell her all 20 spelling words which she would have to write down. Not surprisingly she¬† started bring home all her homework materials.

So how do you deal with kids and lost items? Leave a comment. Thanks!

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