Big Kid School  &  Learning

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    Our greatest hope as parents is that, when our children leave us each morning to go to school, they are surrounded by qualified, caring individuals who treat them as if they are their own. Or, at the very LEAST, treat them as humans.

    Unfortunately, neither one of those things happened at one school in Brooklyn recently, when a public school employee was charged with felony assault for allegedly punching an 11-year-old autistic boy after he spilled water on the cafeteria floor.

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    Parents of twins face a tough question at the beginning of school: Would their kids be better off in separate classrooms or together? "In the past, most schools automatically separated twins," says Susan Lipkins, PhD, a child psychologist at But lately many schools have loosened those policies and are allowing parents to decide what to do. Even so, many moms may still wonder what's best.

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    Few days of the year are more momentous for a kid (or their parents!) than the first day back to school. Yet for many moms and dads, this pivotal day can and will go completely wrong -- at least according to a recent poll we did asking for parents' most mortifying back-to-school stories.

    So if your own first day doesn't go quite as well as planned, read these stories, and rest assured, it could have been way worse.

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    Everyone makes grammatical mistakes sometimes, even teachers. Show me someone who hasn't made an embarrassing typographical error and I'll show you ... well, I can't show you anything, we've all done it. But there's something extra funny about an education-related typo, especially when it comes in the form of a teacher mistakenly correcting his or her student.

    In the spirit of good-natured fun -- rather than snide finger pointing, because you know what they say about pots, kettles, and glass houses -- here are 13 deeply hilarious school typos that we'll go ahead and file under "FALE."

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    Have you noticed that the back to school supplies have already started showing up in various stores? There's something about seeing all those adorable pencil cases and stylish lunchboxes that makes me feel squirmy, maybe even a little guilty. See, I feel like I SHOULD be the sort of mom who shops early so as to ensure my kids have the best deals and most comprehensive selection of backpacks that hopefully won't detonate three months into the school year, but if history's any indicator, I'll be doing my shopping a week or so before school starts, and I'll probably forget something mission-critical, like those 30 containers of hand sanitizer every classroom requires these days.

    As if getting the right supplies isn't hard enough, parents are now expected to make their kids' first day of school into an artsy-crafty, design-magazine-worthy occasion. Not sure what I mean? Behold the Pinterest mom's approach to back to school ... vs the, ah, slightly less organized mom. (Hi!)

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    Every year, the first day of school is a celebration. Whether it's your child's very first day of preschool, or they're returning for another year in elementary, the beginning is always the most exciting. So naturally, it should be recognized. That's right, moms, we're talking first day of school pictures.

    You can bust our your DIY skills, hire a professional, or simply have them hold up a no-frills sign, but you can also make those pictures extra special. We went to our favorite DIY-ers and bloggers to find the funniest and most creative photos you can take with your child before they board that school bus. Take a look:

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    I never thought I'd send my child to private school. I was a public school kid. When I was growing up, private school was for fancy people. If you were just a regular, middle-class kid, you walked down the street to the nearest school and enrolled. It was that simple.

    A generation later, things are a little more complicated. And I've been (GULP!) sending my son to a private school. It's a major sacrifice -- as in, some days I think I must be insane to be doing this even with the tuition break. But then I come in for those parent-teacher conferences, or I read my son's progress reports, or heck, I just have a conversation with my son and I think yep, worth every penny.

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    My oldest son's birthday is on August 31. When we lived in the Seattle area, that was the kindergarten entry cutoff date -- meaning, if he'd turned 5 one day later, he wouldn't have been allowed to start school without petitioning for early entry. At the time, we were faced with a dilemma: did we want him to be the very youngest child in his class, or the very oldest?

    I hemmed and hawed but ultimately made the choice to keep him at home for another year, primarily because I felt in my gut that he wasn't quite emotionally ready for a full day of school. In the years since, I've never once regretted doing so. He flourished the next year, and now at nearly 9, he seems exactly where's he's supposed to be.

    Our decision seemed so personal, and so obviously beneficial for him, it's always surprising to hear that holding kids back -- a practice commonly referred to as "redshirting" -- has become a source of increasing controversy.

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    Parents at an upscale preschool in New York City, who wanted the absolute best for their children, and who were willing to and in the fortunate position to spend a lot of money on their education, were horrified to learn that a 22-year-old intern has been accused of sexually abusing more than a dozen children ages 4 and 5 at the school.

    Malthe Thomsen, who is from Denmark, has been charged with sexually abusing 13 children at the International Preschool, which serves mostly wealthy families -- many of whom have ties to the United Nations. The accusations against him are absolutely sickening and will make you hug your kids just a little tighter today.

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    A school principal is in hot water with parents after sharing a not-so-hot, but borderline crass, photo of herself doing something obscene to the -- get ready for it -- Washington Monument, of all things. Five years ago, Penny Mueller did something pretty foolish. While she and other teachers from the Crestomere School in Calgary, Canada were attending a conference in Washington, D.C., the principal and two colleagues posed for a lewd photo in front of the moument that makes it look as if Mueller is performing fellatio on it.

    A spur of the moment, dumb mistake? Perhaps. But it's also one that speaks volumes about her professional attitude. For that reason, it makes perfect sense that parents are pulling their children out of her school.

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