Back to School


Can you believe the summer is nearly over? Even more incredible is the fact that my lovely young man will be starting Junior Kindergarten next week! In honour of the occasion, I am going to discuss three pairs of school-inspired words that sometimes cause confusion.

This post is dedicated to all the parents out there anxiously (eagerly?) awaiting that first day of school.

Contagious vs. Infectious
At first, you might think this pair of words is out of place. If that’s the case, you probably don’t have children—or maybe your child is Patient Zero. The rest of us know this is the worst part of back-to-school. So how do we distinguish between these two words?

Contagious means that Typhoid Sally is probably going to transmit her disease to your child when she touches him, or when she sneezes all over his homework.

Infectious, on the other hand, means that something other than a human is carrying the disease (water, earth, the air, your son’s eraser, etc.)—and contact with that thing will infect whoever touches it. For the record, that probably means you.

Obtuse vs. Abstruse
This pair of words is not meant as a dig at your kids. However, they might tell us something about the brain of a sleep-deprived parent at the end of summer vacation.

Obtuse means someone who is dull-witted and slow to understand things, such as a parent who doesn’t understand what foods are on the forbidden list or why they should subscribe to a bunch of magazines they will never read.

Abstruse, on the other hand, means that something is difficult to understand, like the new teacher’s handwriting or your child’s arguments for why he should be allowed to stay home from school even though he’s not sick.

Principle vs. Principal
Hopefully, this final pair of words will be easy to find in your child’s school. Ideally, you will make sure both suit your goals for your child’s education.

Principle means someone has a particular attitude towards, for example, corporal punishment that is based on certain moral beliefs, fundamental truths, or legal reasons.

Principal, on the other hand, means that person in charge at your child’s school, the one who calls you at least once a week to discuss your child’s latest “behavioural trends.”

On that note, I will wish you all a happy back-to-school transition—or an enjoyable end to your summer!


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3 thoughts on “Back to School

    1. Thanks Janna! Yeah, I figured some of you would relate to that! When my step-daughter started Kindergarten, I think I was sick for about 6 months! Here’s hoping I still have my immunity from then… 🙂

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