Tag Archives: school

The Route to Success?

SA_2017_BeeBots_002When it comes time to apply to kindergarten in New York City, many parents are considering charter schools, and that often means exploring Success Academy’s well-known programs. While there is no single way to find the best kindergarten for your child, talking to the school and listening to parents are great ways to start. Kidz Central Station spoke with Success Academy and with Success Academy parent Alpa Patel to ask some questions you might have. So, if you are wondering, “Is Success Academy right for my child?” or “Should I apply to a charter school in New York?”, read on.

Kidz Central Station: What makes Success Academy different from other charter schools and from other schools in general?

Success Academy: Success Academy schools are distinct from other schools in our firm commitment to progressive pedagogy and to educating the whole child. We believe deeply that doing is at the core of learning, and Success scholars receive only 80 minutes of direct instruction (teacher up front) throughout the day. The rest of the day is devoted to discussion, small-group instruction, and hands-on learning — including inquiry-based science five days a week beginning in kindergarten (our students carry out more than 100 experiments each year!).

Our scholars explore and create through arts, chess, sports, recess, board games, creative writing, and project-based learning — and for kindergartners, blocks play and choice time. We believe that schools vastly underestimate the capacity of each child to think and achieve at a high level. Giving scholars the opportunity to do the “intellectual heavy lifting” as they grapple with challenging, complex problems and ideas makes learning not only engaging and appealing, but also deep and lasting. This progressive approach cultivates in our scholars a true zest for learning, and prepares them for the rigor and independence needed to succeed in college and in life.

Kidz Central Station:  Why/how did you choose Success Academy for your child?

Success Academy Parent: This past year, we switched our son to Success Academy for 3rd grade. After attending K-2 at our zoned public school, he was unmotivated and disinterested in school and adopting lazy habits. We were frustrated with the lack of communication and feedback to parents. We had heard about Success Academy Union Square, which is in our neighborhood, from other local parents and knew of its reputation for academic rigor. At first, we were concerned that he might not be able to adapt to such a steep step up in standards, but we also knew he couldn’t continue on the apathetic path he was on. Kids accept challenges more easily than we think. Now, we wish we’d moved to Success Academy  sooner

Kidz Central Station: Describe the typical Success Academy student

Success Academy: There is no “typical” scholar at Success. Our curriculum and instruction are very rigorous, and at the same time our schools are designed to ensure that every child receives the support and attention they need to meet their full academic potential. We provide individualized supports to scholars who need them, and acceleration for scholars who are ready to skip ahead. We celebrate, and work hard to cultivate, the “ACTION” values of Agency, Curiosity, Try and Try, Integrity, Others, and No Shortcuts. Our scholars tend to work hard, treat each other with great kindness and respect, and have a real enthusiasm for learning.

Kidz Central Station:  What do you and/or your child like best about Success Academy?

Success Academy Parent: Our son constantly praises Success Academy when comparing to his old school. He enjoys being recognized for his achievements. He clearly understands what is expected of him and receives frequent updates on his progress. We like best that Success Academy has taught him to enjoy learning while understanding that school is important.

Kidz Central Station: We hear students take on advanced topics in early grades. Could you give some examples?

Success Academy: We introduce scholars to advanced ideas and concepts from a very young age through rich texts, complex problems, and purposeful discussions that help them make connections between their intuitive understanding and academic content. For example, any five-year-old can — with great precision — divide a cookie in equal parts to share with two friends. In kindergarten math, we introduce basic concepts of division and fractions through these kinds of real-world problems.

Our project-based learning (PBL) units use engaging topics to tap into scholars’ natural curiosity and push them towards advanced analysis and mastery. For example, during our second-grade Brooklyn Bridge PBL unit, scholars conduct experiments to learn the engineering principles behind bridge construction, build their own model suspension bridge, and paint the Brooklyn Bridge in art. In social studies, they read different historical accounts of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and debate the question of whether Emily Roebling was indeed the project’s chief engineer, as many historians now believe. They learn about labor and transportation conditions in New York City at the time the bridge was built, and write letters as 19th-century New Yorkers advocating for the bridge or for safer working conditions.

Kidz Central Station: What are kids reading in various grades?

Success Academy: Our approach to teaching literacy stems from our deep-seated belief that if children love reading and read exceptionally well, they can teach themselves anything. To that end, our literacy curriculum introduces scholars to great literature and emphasizes critical thinking, knowledge-building, and the thoughtful discussion of ideas.  Kids read and analyze poetry, biography, history, fiction, myths, and fables, and write copiously in a range of genres.

In kindergarten, titles include The Story of Ferdinand, Caps for Sale, and Corduroy; in third grade, they might read My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth, The Whipping Boy, and The Wizard of Oz. In fourth grade, titles include The Phantom Tollbooth, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, and The Rescuers. We are also passionate about poetry and by the end of fourth grade scholars have read poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou, Victor Hugo, and many others.

Kidz Central Station:  What is parent involvement like at Success Academy schools?

Success Academy Parent: If you have chosen Success Academy, then you will be involved in your child’s education. Many parents attend Community Circle meetings, volunteer as class parents, chaperone field trips, or meet with teachers to discuss schoolwork. We can text or email teachers and expect quick responses. When my son was sick one day, his teacher called and texted updates from the nurse’s office. Parents are accountable for their child’s homework completion and attendance. For example, my son’s class has been rewarded for 10 consecutive days of no absences or tardies a few times this year. And that takes dedication from parents.

Kidz Central Station: What is the one thing parents who are considering Success Academy should know, more than anything else?

Success Academy: Success Academy schools are truly joyful, celebratory houses of learning were scholars feel seen and loved. We place a huge emphasis on fun and silliness, and have regular, themed “spirit” days when scholars and teachers dress up as Dr. Seuss characters, superheroes, or 100-year-olds (to celebrate the 100th day of school). Days our peppered with dance parties, wiggle breaks, and celebrations of scholars who have displayed exemplary ACTION values like kindness to others and curiosity. Each class develops a strong identity as a team and community, striving to outdo other homerooms with class cheers, dances, and skits at Community Circle each week. This premium on joy and engagement informs our entire academic and co-curricular program. As our CEO puts it, “We believe that to fall in love with learning, schools have to be incredibly joyful places where kids are engaged, puzzled, and inspired every day. For that reason we prioritize things like chess, science five days a week, field studies, art, soccer, and music.”

Success Academy is currently accepting applications. The lottery deadline for the 2018-19 school year is April 1, 2018. Learn more and apply here.

 

Benefits of Gifted and Talented Programs

As a NYC parent we have all heard about the Gifted and Talented Programs. The more information we gather the more overwhelming it can be to begin the admissions process for your child. But what are some of the most attractive aspects of the G&T programs? In many cases, the amount of work it takes to get into one of these programs can make parents question if the effort is worth the value. After all, there is technically no official Gifted and Talented curriculum.

Gifted education helps provide options for advanced students and helps students meet their social needs. If you have a gifted child often, a gifted program can help them stay engaged in school. Often times a gifted child in a regular class can face the risk of becoming bored or have trouble engaging socially. After talking to families about their experiences in G&T programs, our education specialists at Bright Kids have found that there are three main incentives for parents to covet Gifted and Talented schools. Firstly, the nature of how the curriculum is presented and administered to the students is a big draw. This aspect coinciding with the peer groups students will encounter in the classroom and the level of rigor in which they are confronted with, are the leading factors in a parent’s desire to for their student to attend and continue to attend a Gifted and Talented school.

Curriculum
What makes the G&T program curriculum unique? Well, there are two different types of New York City Gifted and Talented programs — Citywide and District. As I mentioned, there is no special Gifted and Talented Curriculum in NYC. This is important to keep in mind, because it often means that the quality can vary from program to program. The key facts to remember are that Citywide programs take the standard New York Department of Education curriculum and accelerate it one year. This means that a student entering Kindergarten would begin with the standard first grade curriculum. District programs simply have “enriched” curriculum. This means that the quality of the teachers becomes very important as they are required to account for different learning speeds and styles within the standardized grade-appropriate curriculum. The benefit of this flexible classroom is that if one student is a very advanced reader, but another is not, they will both receive different assignments to accommodate for their varying levels. It also means that most of the students in the class will move at a faster pace than an average classroom. Because of this, students will progress through content much faster and get to more than the standard classroom.

Peer Groups
Another key component of Gifted and Talented programs is the peer group of each classroom. In a general education classroom, student learning levels are often a wide mix. This can cause classrooms to have a slower pace than a gifted education classroom. In some instances, student behavior becomes an issue.

In many instances, gifted children can be prone to tune out learning if they are not challenged or engaged. This increases the risk of social problems or acting out at school. By placing these students in a setting surrounded by other gifted students, they are encouraged to achieve a higher level of success academically. Furthermore, children in G&T programs don’t typically feel the need to hide their giftedness to fit in. Students in such programs often have more confidence and self esteem and have an easier time making friends and socializing. These peer groups create a fair and equal learning environment for students. This helps foster your child’s unique learning abilities to achieve their potential at school, while also helping other students reach their potential.

The process of applying to New York City Gifted and Talented schools can be daunting, but they offer so many educational and social benefits. Bright Kids is here to help you and your family find and gain a seat at the right G&T program for you and your child. Our unique and customizable approach creates a curriculum that is specific to your child’s learning needs. Eliminate added stress and let us help your child.

Learn more at a Bright Kids G&T Open House. RSVP Today.

 

Preventing Summer Learning Loss

summer-homework

School’s out for summer, but learning shouldn’t be on vacation, too. “Summer slide” occurs when children forget skills they learned the previous school year, and it’s a concern for many parents, especially parents of children with learning difficulties. Here are some ways to engage and support children at any age to retain those skills and even give them a leg up for the next school year, while still having fun and enjoying their time off from school.

Elementary school:
• Try and find some time daily to read with your children. You can start a fun summer book club with a few of your children’s friends and rotate homes where you can meet and discuss the book of the week. You can also stop at the library before your summer road trip or longer vacations for books to take along with you. Set 20 minutes aside daily for some quiet reading or shared reading pleasure. Nothing like a great book for the beach for you and your child!
• If your younger child (pre-k to 1st grade) struggles with reading, it is even more important that you read to them every day. Have them try and pick out words they recognize (sight words) and begin to use their phonetic skills to “tap out” or sound out more challenging words.
• For this young age group, you should also review and practice the sequence of the alphabet. Sing or say the alphabet whenever you can – in the car, on a walk, while taking a bath. Fun activities include scrambling magnetic plastic letters of the alphabet and asking your child to sequence them as he or she says the letter names.
• You can also practice the alphabet with a game–it can be something as simple as jumping rope while reciting the alphabet, and coming up with a vocabulary word based on the letter you stop jumping at.
• Rhyming games can also be fun. Say four words and ask your child to tell you which word does not belong. Make up silly words to get them even more engaged!
• For slightly older children (first grade and onward) start to talk to your child about a book before you even get into the text with them. Ask them questions about the cover, read the chapter headings, and have them hypothesize what they think the story will be about. After reading a chapter, pause and have them reflect and predict what they think will happen next in the story. Review and discuss the different characters and have them start to form inferences about what will happen as you move along in the book with them.
• If engaging your child in a book is a struggle, try graphic novels instead. They have proven to be appealing to students who have not yet developed a love of reading.
• Strengthen your child’s number skills by incorporating fun math activities into your summer routine: count the seashells on the sand while you’re walking, or add up the number of birds you see flying overhead.
• You can include practice with measurement by having your child engage in cooking or baking and having them take charge in following the recipe.
• For kids who are having difficulty making their handwriting legible, summer is a great time to work on that skill, or learn to type. Look for programs or apps that can help make the process fun.

Middle and high school:
• If your child struggles in a particular subject, like math, try to find out what’s coming up in the class next year. That way you can start previewing the upcoming new concepts early.
• Writing demands increase as we enter the higher grades. Finding opportunities when older students would be interested and willing to engage in writing practice can be hard. One way to incorporate writing exercises is by coupling them with fun adventures. Visiting local museums, finding a fun landmark to research while on a trip, and even conducting an interview with a relative or someone in the neighborhood can be used as opportunities to foster journaling and writing.
• As your children transition into middle and high school, organizational skills and independence become even more important. Help your child get a head start on organizing their notebooks for different subjects and scheduling due dates for assignments.
• If your child is anxious about starting at a new school, use the summer to engage in helpful social activities. Look for ways they can meet peers early on, visit and walk around new school grounds to diminish anxiety and increase confidence.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that helping your child keep up over the summer shouldn’t be costly, either in terms of a financial burden or by straining your relationship with your child. There are so many resources in our environment to employ and ways to continue to promote and foster learning that are present as long as we’re creative in thinking about how to include them.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Daniela Montalto, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. She is the Clinical Director of the Child Study Center’s Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement.

 

Take a Sick Day or Stick It Out? Knowing When Your Child Should Stay Home Sick

faver

With winter germs flying around and busy family schedules, it can be difficult to know when your child is too sick to go to school or be around other kids. Here are some tips to help you make the call:

Determine what is “too sick” for school: In general, if your child has a fever, severe respiratory symptoms, vomiting or diarrhea, “pink eye,” or is just not feeling well enough to participate in normal activities, it’s usually a good idea for him or her to stay home to rest and recover. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your child is well enough to be around other people, you should always ask your child’s doctor.

Know what’s contagious and what’s not: There are some common illnesses or conditions that children may get that aren’t contagious, such as eczema, asthma, allergies, etc. As for those illnesses, like cold and flu, that are contagious, a good rule of thumb is that most common viral upper respiratory illnesses are generally most contagious in the few days prior to and the few days after onset of symptoms. If you are not sure if your child’s specific illness is contagious, ask your pediatrician.

Go on the defensive: One of the best things that you can do to help protect your child’s health is to teach your child to practice good hand hygiene with frequent and thorough hand washing. Additionally, children 6 months and older are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine to help protect them against influenza. If your infant is too young to receive the flu vaccine, you can help protect them by getting the flu vaccine yourself and encouraging anyone who will be in close contact with your child to also get vaccinated.

When in doubt, trust your instincts (and your pediatrician). The question of whether or not to keep your child home from school or another activity can sometimes be a tricky one to answer. The most important things to keep in mind are to trust your parental instincts and always ask your pediatrician if you are ever in doubt. Additionally, many daycares, preschools, and grade schools have set guidelines about when your child should stay home. For example, schools usually require that a child be free of fever for at least 24 hours (without receiving fever-reducing medications) before returning to school. Check in with your child’s school for more details.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a pediatrician at NYU Langone’s Trinity Center.