Big Kid School  &  Learning

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    Local schools don't start until tomorrow, so it's been quite a while since homework has been part of our routine. I'm sure my kids' brains have been rotting in their skulls all summer like brown bananas, but I can't say I've missed dealing with school worksheets -- even though only one kid had homework last year, and compared to what I've heard from other second grade parents, his workload was relatively light.

    It's not the time involved in completing assignments that I dislike about homework, nor is it the fact that it exists in the first place. It's the spectacularly boring repetition of it, which seems almost custom-designed to make kids hate school and forget that learning can actually be fun and rewarding.

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    "Dear parent, due to increasing budget gaps, we seek additional funding to support your child's educational enrichment programs. This year, instead of asking your children -- and thus, yourself -- to hawk overpriced wrapping paper, high-calorie snack foods, and unwanted knickknacks, we're simply asking you to donate what you're able. Attached is a comprehensive spreadsheet detailing this year's budget, our funding goals, and how we'll use the money."

    This is the sort of letter I'd love to see from my kids' school ... but I doubt I ever will. Instead, my kids will come home with catalogues of garbage that no one needs, which we're supposed to foist upon our friends, family, and neighbors. Not only that, they'll be teased with "prize incentives" they can win if only they sell enough of this crap.

    I. Hate. School. Fundraising.

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    Back to school means back to rifling through your kids' backpacks for crumpled up permission slips. They're usually no-brainers. Just sign, zip them back up in the bag, and call it a day. Easy peasy. The hardest thing about them is making them look presentable again.

    But what if you received a permission slip asking you to sign off on the possibility of your child's untimely death or serious injury? A mom was faced with that dilemma when she got the craziest permission slip you have ever seen. Check it out:

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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 RealPsychology.com. 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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