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School Supplies Are Just the Beginning: Seven Tips for Back-to-School Week

Hear from a teacher what parents should know about back-to-school week.

Earlier this month, —and the potential nightmare that shopping trip can be.

My daughter is 1. Her school supplies are food, so I've got that supply (mostly) covered.

But my sister is a teacher in the Robbinsdale School District—and parent to two almost-teenage boys. ("We had an $800 grocery bill in one month this summer," she said last week. With a straight face.)

As we began talking about school supplies, I learned a few things about the first day of school from one teacher out there for you.

Something to think about beyond that first-day scramble—which arrives for many of you next week.

1. Make sure your kids' lunch money accounts are filled, as much as you can. (Yes, old people: the days of bringing lunch money to school are gone. Students now have electronic debit accounts.) 

Point being, apparently it's ridiculously humiliating to be called out by the lunch lady—(yes, old people, they still have those)—when the well is dry. Most children cannot be trusted with this task. Feed the children.

2. An oldie but a goodie: If you're dropping your child off to school, do NOT humiliate them with affection in front of their friends. For real. It will leave mental scars and anguish.

3. Don't linger. This is a follow up for all you first-time parents. First day of school is not the day to introduce yourself beyond "hello" to the new teacher. 

Chat later. If you think you're overwhelmed, remember that there are at least 30 other offspring just like yours preparing to dismantle that teacher's day. Visit about your child's maladies some other time. Armatage Montessori magnet school is even hosting an event they call "Tears and Cheers" to help first-time parents process the first day of school.

4. Backpacks are essential. Sis tells me you can get them for as low as the $15 range at Target or Walmart, and that these are must-must haves every year for the elementary kids.

And don't break the bank on something fancy, she adds: That's an invitation for thievery.

Watch out for over-stuffed bags, though—, according to the staff at in Tangletown.

5. Label EVERYTHING. Speaking of backpacks and thievery: It's not a guarantee against theft, but certainly just as much a necessity for the young forgetful mind. (Not your child's of course; the child next to him or her).

6. Don't forget about the "Offices"OfficeMax and The Office Depot. Speaking of Walmart and Target: As you put together your shopping lists (which are often on the school websites), these big stores won't necessarily have the same stock that they did six weeks ago. But you may be able to score just as good a deal online or at one of the Office superstores—and those stores often come with purchase rewards.

7. Your children's cell phones are welcome in school—sort of. Earlier this year,  to let students bring their cellphones and iPod Touches to school. But don't let your kids think this means they can text all day or listen to music instead of paying attention in class. The policy changes just make it easier for teachers to integrate smartphones into their teaching, having kids scan QR codes posted on a smartboard or text the teacher their answers in a pop-quiz. They can still get 

The last thing you want to spend your Wednesday afternoon doing is bail-bonding your son's or daughter's gadget out of hoc.

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