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Back-to-School Survival Guide

What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned In School?

Real Simple readers reveal their most significant lessons (beyond the ABC’s).

Desk and chalkboardJim Franco

Mind Lessons

In school, little things take on such large significance. Wear the wrong shirt and you're labeled a loser for life. Plant a wet one on your boyfriend, and once you break up, everybody whispers you're the worst kisser ever. But, as cliched as it is, life goes on. School taught me that if you move past your most embarrassing moments, everyone else eventually will, too.
Lindsey Guthrie
Edmond, Oklahoma
 
It's OK to admit that you can't do everything.
Arina Zonnenberg
Washington, D.C.
 


Practical Lessons

Whenever I asked my fourth-grade teacher how to spell a word, she would tell me to look it up in the dictionary. Not only do I still automatically look up a word when I'm stumped on how to spell it but I also pick up the dictionary just to learn new ones. 
Bella Frank 
Bethlehem, New Hampshire
 
I learned to "free-write" in college, which means spending 10 minutes writing whatever is in your head. Now I free-write whenever I feel overwhelmed. I can organize my thoughts or jot down a to-do list. If I declutter my brain, I am more productive.
Denise La Voire
Corona Del Mar, California
 
Learning how to read opened doors for me. Reading seems to be passive―it's quiet and still―but its impact is anything but. As a child, I read to escape. As an adult, I teach reading, in English-as-a-second-language classes.
Jenna Rindo
Pickett, Wisconsin
 
As a college-bound high school senior, I took a typing class. Two college degrees later, I can tell you that learning how to type was the most useful skill I picked up in school.
Claudia Pratt
San Francisco, California
 
How to write a letter. Each week throughout second grade, we would write a letter to a fellow student in our class. This taught me how to use words to express myself and showed me how much joy there is in receiving a letter from a friend.
Stacey Kawamoto
Kapolei, Hawaii
 
Once I learned how to do research, I always knew how to go about finding the information I needed.
S. Metz
Piscataway, New Jersey
 
 
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