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New Survey Reveals Parents Are Overlooking Essential Back to School Preparation – Most Going Shopping As Primary Back to School Activity

GreatSchools Launches Initiative to Educate Parents About Essentials of Back-to-School Prep

SAN FRANCISCO, CA USA – August 13, 2008 – Parents are more than twice as likely to go shopping in preparation for the new school year than engage in activities recommended by experts to help children effectively prepare for the coming school year, according to the Back-to-School Benchmark Survey released today by GreatSchools (, an independent nonprofit organization that empowers parents to support their children's educational success.

While nearly all parents shop for back-to-school clothing and supplies, fewer than half find out what their child will be learning, meet their child's teacher, get their child on a nutritional breakfast schedule, or increase their child's reading time and reduce their video/computer game playing time.

"Shopping has become synonymous with back to school but parents are searching for more meaningful guidance about preparing their children to transition back to the classroom," noted Bill Jackson, GreatSchools’ founder and CEO. "GreatSchools is having that conversation with parents by connecting them with practical advice on how to effectively prepare their children."

The survey also found that while 80 percent of parents do seek out educational advice – most often from schools and teachers – a surprising majority are overlooking the Internet as a back-to-school resource. With the launch of its Back-to-School online resource center, GreatSchools aims to broaden the focus of back-to-school season beyond shopping and provide parents with expert advice on all aspects of helping their children successfully begin the new school year.

"Schools are simply too over-taxed and under-resourced to provide everything to every parent, so the web is a natural resource," said Jackson. "GreatSchools is serving as a partner to parents by providing them with easy, low-cost ways to help their children prepare mentally and physically for back to school and return to the classroom with a positive attitude."

Some of the leading back-to-school preparation tips featured in GreatSchools' Back-to-School Countdown (available at include helping children create a "summer brain workout," establish healthy eating patterns and get organized for a school year routine.

Used by one in three parents, Webby award-winning GreatSchools provides parents with the resources they need to be fully engaged in their children's education, from pre-school to college. More about GreatSchools and its Back-to-School resource center is available at

More than Shopping – Other Notable Results from Benchmark Survey

Other notable Back-to-School Benchmark Survey findings include:

  • A minority of parents engage in activities prescribed by education experts in advance of school starting, such as increasing reading time (48 percent), reducing TV/video time (39 percent) and starting a nutritional breakfast schedule (29 percent).

  • Parents spend more time and money on back-to-school shopping than they do on school fundraising or volunteering for their children's schools. Parents are twice as likely to spend more than $400 on back-to-school shopping (17 percent) than they are in donations to their children's schools (8 percent).

  • Parents are more than three times as likely to think about how much time they'll spend back-to-school shopping than how much time they'll spend volunteering at their child's school. Merely two percent of parents said they won't spend any time back-to-school shopping, compared to one in five parents (18 percent) who said they won't spend any time volunteering at their child's school.

  • More than one-third (35 percent) of parents believe there is more their children's schools can do to improve the back-to-school experience. Parents desire more and different back to school activities, such as school-hosted events for parents, students and teachers, and community-wide back-to-school celebrations such as fairs, parades and school supply donation programs for students in need.

The Back-to-School Benchmark Survey was conducted June 28 to July 2, 2008, with online surveys of 1,308 parents of children ages 5 to 17 who will attend school in the fall. Respondents were selected from a random, nationally representative sample; the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval.


About GreatSchools

GreatSchools is an independent, non-profit organization that empowers and inspires parents to participate in their child's development and educational success. Parents choose GreatSchools to find the ideal schools, get expert advice, share stories and to get their parenting and education questions answered. In the past year alone, more than 35 million people visited GreatSchools ( With hundreds of thousands of ratings and parent reviews about schools across the country, and unparalleled expert resources, GreatSchools empowers parents with information and tools so they can choose the best school for their children, support their educational success and improve schools in their communities. A Webby award-winning site, GreatSchools is supported by leading foundations and corporations, including the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, Robertson Foundation and Walton Family Foundation.

GreatSchools – Involved parents. Successful kids.


Deborah Schneider – 415.277.6973 –

Brenda Dos Santos – 415.277.6974 –