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A Parent’s Back-to-School Quiz

Forget the kids. Are you ready for the first day of school? Or is your mind stuck on a beach somewhere? Get ready to snap out of summer with these helpful – and not so helpful – hints for parents of kids in grades K-12. Put down the Tito's & tonic for 60 seconds and take this true/false quiz. C’mon, you’ve got this! Or do you?


  1. Stop freaking out about school supplies. The list will come.

  2. Kids should have all of these on the first day even if you don't have the list yet: a pen or pencil, single subject notebook, and a folder with pockets.

  3. Over-buy snacks at Costco so they all go bad at the same time in November with half the packages remaining. Donate the expired leftovers to a class holiday party without checking the ingredients for nuts. Teachers love unexpected food donations!

  4. Ask specific questions when your child gets home if you want the real scoop.

  5. Do not ask these questions: How was school? Do you like your teacher? They are too generic.

  6. Control yourself. It’s the first day of school – not a moon landing. No need for balloons and confetti at the bus stop.

  7. Your child will be tired, hungry and thirsty even if he says he isn’t. Meet him at the bus with a tray of delectable sugary treats. Walk onto the bus with cookies for all of his bus mates.

  8. Get the bus driver’s name and send him a friend request on Facebook. Better yet, follow him on Instagram so you can be sure of his every move when he isn’t driving your child to and from school.

  9. Allow your child to choose her clothes on the first day. And the second. And the third.

  10. Email the teachers about your child’s March birthday and expect an immediate reply. You know, because teachers really have nothing better to do on the first day.

  11. Scale the outer walls of the school to peek through the windows of the classrooms to find your child and wave at her. That won’t raise a red flag with school security at all.

  12. If your child has a cell phone, be sure to text him throughout the day and expect real-time replies. Because that’s what we should teach our kids: to text during class.

  13. Gossip on social media about your child’s class placement and, even if you don’t have a degree in education, share your own classroom management tips.

  14. Wear an outfit that matches your child’s so you can take 10 selfies at the bus stop together and post all of them online immediately because the first day is all about you and not your child.

  15. Complain about how the PTC does everything but don’t join the PTC. Be part of the problem – not the solution. Besides, your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.

  16. Plan a relaxing yet special family dinner for that first day. Take turns around the dinner table sharing one thing that made you smile and one thing you’re curious about going into the second day. Gently throw a dinner roll at anyone who says their favorite subject was lunch.

  17. Think before you speak and read your child’s cues. If she isn’t ready to talk about the first day, don’t be pushy about it.

  18. Allow your child to stay up as long as he wants the night before the first day. The experts who talk about a good night’s rest are full of malarkey.

  19. Promise to take your family on a long weekend and have the kids skip school that first Friday so you can miss traffic. They don’t do anything in class the first week anyway.

  20. Never let them see you sweat. Cry if you want, but do it after they get on the bus, or worse, drive themselves to school.


1 & 2: True

3: False

4-6: True

7: First part is probably true; parts 2 and 3 are false.

8: False

9: True - within reason

10-15: False

16 & 17: True

18 & 19: False

20: True


All sarcasm aside, here are some specific, effective questions if you want real answers about your child’s first day of school. Good questions lead to more thorough answers and genuine conversations, and that’s what we parents want. Avoid questions that can be answered with yes, no, or fine (that four-letter F word that just get a parent to move onto something else). Try to limit the questions to only a few in one day, or your kids will give you the hairy eyeball.

  • What do you need to bring to school tomorrow other than the usual? Note: ask this question in the afternoon and not at 8:00 P.M. unless you want to make a Staples run at that hour.

  • What class was the most fun today?

  • Did you get any handouts for school supplies?

  • What did you have for lunch today (unless you already know because you packed it)?

  • What did you do during recess/your free period?

  • Who did you sit next to in (fill in the blank with a class subject)?

  • What did your teacher(s) talk about in class? Note: this replaces "Do you like your teacher?" or "Was your teacher nice?"

  • Which homework will take the longest tonight?

  • What is the hardest class to get to on time?

  • What special/elective did you have today?

  • What do you think will be different about school tomorrow?

  • Could you get your locker open okay?

Remember, every school year is new. You’ve been in each grade before, but the kids have not. School may be no big deal to you, but it is to them. Be present without hovering and smothering. Let them explore independence but provide parental guidance. By all means, do not do their homework for them or they will never learn the stinkin’ quadratic formula. One day you’ll put them on the bus, and the next day you’ll drop them off at college and wonder where the time went. So get your head out of the sand and do the first day right!

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