Parent Workshop

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Once upon a time when I was a young mom and an ele­men­tary school teacher I felt pretty sat­is­fied with my abil­i­ties and accom­plish­ments. I was doing it all well. I was doing my best. But I was wrong. It was when I took a course to help stu­dents become more respon­si­ble that I real­ized how easy it was make things bet­ter. I was taught spe­cific strate­gies that impacted the qual­ity of my life in a huge way. I real­ized the impor­tance of par­ent edu­ca­tion and it was then that I started on this jour­ney to make par­ent edu­ca­tion more com­mon­place. In my expe­ri­ence, both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional, moms and dads who are aware of par­ent­ing strate­gies enjoy more peace­ful par­ent­ing and most impor­tantly, raise chil­dren that are bet­ter adjusted, resilient and inde­pen­dent.

I recently became cer­ti­fied to teach a par­ent­ing pro­gram called SYSTEMATIC TRAINING FOR EFFECTIVE PARENTING or STEP. It is well respected and evi­dence based. The train­ing I received reminded me of sev­eral strate­gies that I knew, but had for­got­ten. I have since employed some of those strate­gies with my cur­rent stu­dents and was very pleased with the results. Children became more coop­er­a­tive and worked with greater moti­va­tion. It’s just a reminder that we all need refresh­ers. Elevating our par­ent­ing skills needs to be a high pri­or­ity. I know you agree. STEP has renewed my pas­sion to edu­cate par­ents and I am thrilled to share this knowl­edge with you.

I will be host­ing work­shops on an ongo­ing basis. Exact dates and times will soon be announced and will be flex­i­ble to accom­mo­date busy sched­ules.

Beginning work­shops will meet in my liv­ing room so it will be an inti­mate set­ting. The cost is $250 for the entire 7 week pro­gram with a 30% dis­count for your par­ent­ing part­ner. The only addi­tional cost is the par­ent hand­book which can be pur­chased on Amazon or directly from STEP pub­lish­ers http://www.steppublishers.com/.

Please let me know if you are inter­ested in attend­ing. We will then set a time that works for every­one. I promise you a most valu­able expe­ri­ence.

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Math In Everyday Life

 

 

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Parents fre­quently ask what they can do to help their child with math. I find that the most mean­ing­ful method is to seize upon those teach­able moments in every­day life. The fol­low­ing are some exam­ples that may or may not work for you and your child. It’s impor­tant to keep your child’s con­fi­dence level high. Pushing a child beyond what they are capa­ble of will do more harm than good, so take your cues from them and have fun with math in every­day life.

 

In an ele­va­tor
Notice the but­tons- Use the but­tons as a num­ber line, and ask

If the ele­va­tor stopped on the 4th floor and we hadto walk to the  6th floor, how many more floors would we have to walk?

Would we walk upstairs or down?

What is the biggest num­ber?

Compare sev­eral num­bers and put them in order from least to most and most to least

Walking in NYC
Looking at the street sign- we are on 14th street. How many blocks away is 10th street?

Getting Anything… Cookies, stick­ers, kisses
How many do you want?
What if I gave you
1 more/ less
2 more/less
3 more/less

Pretend Purchase
Pretend your child is buy­ing some­thing. Ask them how much they have? Then make up a price and ask if they have enough? Then ask how much more they need or how much left over money they would have.

Use actual pen­nies to work it out.

Sports

Compare points: who has more, how much more?

How much more does the los­ing team need to get to be equal or win?

Money

Teach the value of penny, nickel and dime.

Count by 1’s 5’s and 10’s.

Count by 5’s and 10’s and then add pen­nies.

 

In the Kitchen

Your child may not be ready to add frac­tions but expos­ing them to units of mea­sure will be help­ful.

Do they know the dif­fer­ence vetween a tea­spoon and table­spoon? Show them how many tea­spoons equal a table­spoon. If your child is ready see if they can fig­ure out how many ways to get 4 tea­spoons. Play with mea­sur­ing.

 

Food

Pizza or pies – ask ques­tions involv­ing a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple eat­ing a slice and then how much will be left­over?

Throw in the word “each” as in if each per­son ate 2 pieces how much will be left­over. This requires three steps and under­stand­ing what “each” implies. First they have to count how many slices are in the pie, then add how much was eaten and finally sub­tract from the total. Using the real thing will teach this con­cept with rel­a­tive ease.

Cut things in half and dis­cuss equal parts.

Introduce halves and quar­ters.

 

Setting the Table

Ask your child to set the table but don’t give them enough. Then ask them how much more they need.

 

Games

Board and card games are won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties to incor­po­rate math. You prob­a­bly do not want to inun­date your child with ques­tions and take out the play….. but once in a while ask

How much more does one per­son have than the other?

How many more spaces to get to the end?

What do the num­bers on the dice add up to?

 

Sharing

When you share some­thing with your child say: I have ___. If I give you ___ how many will I have left?

.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….…

Once you see the oppor­tu­ni­ties you will under­stand that there are end­less ways to teach math in every­day life. Keep it REAL, keep it FUN and keep it going.

 

 

 

 

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I Am Curious About Curiosity

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I am Curious About Curiosity

Why , why, why.

Parents can get so tired of explain­ing things to curi­ous three, four and five year old chil­dren.

But why, when chil­dren grow up, do so many cease to be curi­ous?

The new com­mon core cur­ricu­lum strives to encour­age crit­i­cal think­ing and increase a child’s appetite to learn more about the world.

The basic tenets of Montessori are to allow a child’s desire to learn be the dri­ving force of their early edu­ca­tion. I feel that there is a lot of truth to that prin­ci­ple.

As a retired kinder­garten teacher, and now a pri­vate tutor, I encour­age chil­dren to explore sub­jects that they won­der about. Stimulating their sense of won­der will set the stage for more advanced learn­ing when the details are devel­op­men­tally appro­pri­ate for them to under­stand. Additionally, won­der­ing and ques­tion­ing encour­ages the kind of crit­i­cal think­ing stu­dents need to ana­lyze infor­ma­tion and make the kind of con­nec­tions nec­es­sary for deeper under­stand­ing.

What are you curi­ous about?

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Confidence

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As a teacher and a par­ent, I know there is a fine line between authen­tic and non-con­di­tional praise. If every­thing is won­der­ful, than there is no con­nec­tion with true effort. Motivation may actu­ally be reduced and all the flow­ery words will become like back­ground noise; mean­ing­less. Appropriate praise with mea­sured encour­age­ment and cor­rec­tion will go a long way to help a child be moti­vated and develop a strong sense of self con­fi­dence.

As your child pre­pares for the kinder­garten entrance exam (gifted and tal­ented, ERB or Stanford Binet) keep in mind that the most impor­tant thing you as a par­ent can do is to teach your child that they are capa­ble. Attacking ques­tions that may be dif­fi­cult can cause a child to give up too soon and take a ran­dom guess. If a child feels that they have suc­cess­fully fig­ured some­thing out even when it ini­tially appeared out of their reach, they may be more likely to think clearly and be more accu­rate.

The dif­fer­ence of a few points may decide your child’s score and there­fore their options for kinder­garten.  If you work with your child at home you need to encour­age and instruct care­fully. A child wants to please their par­ent and will react more extremely to a parent’s efforts to cor­rect and instruct. A hearty dose of smiles, praise and a dash of instruc­tion is the key to rais­ing their level of per­for­mance and con­fi­dence.

Best of luck and let me know if I can help.

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ERB or Not To ERB

 

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The New York Times sent shock waves through the world of NYC preschool par­ents when it informed us of the end to the dreaded ERB test. The test was now not rec­om­mended by a panel of experts due to the vast amount of “prep­ping” going on and the unhealthy use of ERB scores as a way for par­ents to show­case their child’s bril­liance. 

My first reac­tion, as a tutor who, yes I admit it, helps to pre­pare chil­dren for the ERB was great. I hate the notion of test­ing and the ridicu­lous hoops par­ents and chil­dren must jump through just to get into a school that will be a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence. But then real­ity set in. How will schools make deci­sions about who is accepted and who is not? Obviously schools can­not accept every­one so how will the new sys­tem work? I have asked sev­eral of the direc­tors at the schools who have decided to see how life with­out the ERB will unfold and it appears that much of the change will be in for­mat rather than con­tent. By this they mean that they will observe chil­dren at play, they will have infor­mal ses­sions with them and yes, an assess­ment will be made. Scoring will be vague, at least at first, and par­ents will be informed as to how well they did in sub­jec­tive terms. You can be assured that most, if not all, skills pre­vi­ously assessed will still be con­sid­ered.

As an ele­men­tary school teacher for over thirty years I can tell you most earnestly that screen­ing chil­dren prior to kinder­garten is impor­tant. Some chil­dren require spe­cial instruc­tion out­side of a main­stream class­room. It’s won­der­ful to have a nice blend of chil­dren with dif­fer­ent tal­ents and var­i­ous back­grounds.

I am totally in favor of some kind of screen­ing for every school. Eliminating the ERB’s is a step in the right direc­tion. Competition in NYC and par­ents using their chil­dren as tro­phies is another mat­ter com­pletely.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/education/on-entrance-test-whose-days-appear-numbered-a-95-just-wasnt-good-enough.html?_r=0

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Kindergarten Decisions

The fol­low­ing is a piece writ­ten by a par­ent who strug­gled through the myr­iad of hoops prior to her child’s entrance into kinder­garten and then strug­gled with the deci­sion to take a cov­eted gifted and tal­ented spot or accept the ease and com­fort of a pri­vate school. I am post­ing this for all par­ents who just went through it and for par­ents who shortly will. It is well writ­ten, poignant and illus­trates the real­i­ties of the New York City school envi­ron­ment. In a recent phone call from a par­ent I lis­tened as she grap­pled with a dif­fer­ent choice: a gifted and tal­ented spot for both her twins or a spot in a closer school; a char­ter called Success Academy. I am so glad that both choices were accept­able. No mat­ter what school your child attends, their suc­cess and hap­pi­ness will largely depend on their teach­ers. Teachers will be happy and moti­vated at a school that respects its’ fac­ulty and oper­ates in a sen­si­ble man­ner. Make some effort to sur­vey the teach­ers and you will gain valu­able infor­ma­tion to help you decide your child’s next big step. Good luck and don’t for­get to breath and smile. . 

 

THE DECISION, IN RETROSPECT
By Anna Li

Today I vis­ited my daughter’s class­room for their end-of-the-year cel­e­bra­tion.  Her music teacher had pre­pared the stu­dents to sing two songs from The Sound of Music, in addi­tion to other orig­i­nal songs about their Kindergarten expe­ri­ences.  While they were per­form­ing, their com­puter teacher dropped by to make sure every­thing was set for the photo-mon­tage pre­sen­ta­tion.  Diplomas were handed out, bows were taken.  It was adorable and there were few dry eyes in the room. 

My daugh­ter goes to pub­lic school gifted and tal­ented pro­gram.

A year and a half ago I had planned and pre­pared and nav­i­gated through the Kindergarten appli­ca­tion process in New York City.  I went through reg­u­la­tions, appli­ca­tions, guide­lines, dead­lines, and more dead­lines, all the while keep­ing my child happy through­out the process as I cam­ou­flaged my anx­i­ety.  

Like some of you in New York City, we saved a spot with a deposit at a pri­vate school in the West Village, which we truly adored.  When we finally received our gifted and tal­ented seat assign­ment in the pub­lic schools, we com­pared both schools care­fully. We looked read­ing, writ­ing, math, lan­guages, arts, com­puter, sci­ences, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion, nutri­tion, human­ity, and finally home­work load and com­mute. 

In the end, we felt both schools were on par with each other, account­ing for their dif­fer­ences: one offered for­eign lan­guage (pri­vate), the other: none.  One began com­puter in Kindergarten (pub­lic), the other, 2nd grade.  One had a pool and a bicy­cle-rid­ing pro­gram (pub­lic!)…  The list goes on.  I believe that par­ents will have to sup­ple­ment at any school, so we opted for the one that saved us $37,000 annu­ally. 

By now, you have made your deci­sion.  You did all your home­work, but hope­fully you were also warned by prin­ci­pals and par­ent coor­di­na­tors not to ignore the less obvi­ous, like home­work load, com­mute and per­son­al­ity of the school.  Your job was not to get your child into the best school; it was to get your child into the right school.

All year long, I’ve asked myself if we suc­ceeded in choos­ing the school in which our Lili was meant to be. 

Lili’s cur­rent edu­ca­tion is more rig­or­ous that that of our local school, and I can see the results.  She is cur­rently read­ing at almost sec­ond grade level, and she does writ­ing and math work­shops daily, which allow her to write sto­ries and express her­self more effec­tively.  The school also fills out her week with music, art, dance, the­ater, com­puter and cook­ing.  And she has made the kind of friends she’d stick up for in a play­ground.  

One of the biggest draws for us is that the school has a Kind and Gentle pro­gram, which they prac­tice daily.  (My daugh­ter loves school so much, that she makes her friends play “school” when she has them over on play dates.  This is tor­ture for her boy-friends, who I have over­heard ask, “Am I done yet?”)

Despite my daughter’s suc­cesses this year, there are, of course, some regrets I have about our deci­sion.  

First, I under­es­ti­mated the travel fac­tor in my child’s day.

I am one of the lucky moth­ers; the yel­low bus was not a prob­lem for my child.  Many kids cried and refused, adding an addi­tional com­mute to the entire family’s day.  However, the 40-minute ride home from school -and hers is by far not the longest- is in lieu of valu­able play­time.  By the time she returns home, all her neigh­bor­hood friends are well into their play dates.  On days when she has after-school, between travel time and home­work, there’s no time for play.  Plus she’s not just los­ing free time; her friend­ships are slip­ping away because she’s absent from the neigh­bor­hood.

I also didn’t quite real­ize what impact home­work would have on our sched­ule. Yes, she reads chap­ter books, and has cor­rect hand­writ­ing.  However, in order to do this, her school­days are more struc­tured, as are her after­noons.  Couple travel with home­work, and free time becomes a real chal­lenge.  Each week we take home read­ing, writ­ing, and math.  I say “we” because Lili and I are in it together.  Her angst is my angst, just as her joys are mine too. 

I will admit, Lili is on the verge of over-booked, although she has far less after­school than some of the other chil­dren in her class.  I man­age my daughter’s schedule/workload by moth­er­ing over­time to make sure she is happy, not just enter­tained.  I cam­ou­flage home­work to seem like it’s our game, which works most of the time.  I have her friends over so she can spend more time with them after doing home­work — I have an entire agenda, which includes every­thing from candy and sure-fire din­ners, to large-screen TV movie show­ings and marsh­mal­low dec­o­rat­ing.  I jump through hoops, basi­cally, because she is still just a five year old, albeit going on fif­teen.

As far as I’m con­cerned, Kindergarten is one of the last times a child has to be truly care­free.  Free play is invalu­able to a young child’s intel­lect, to her abil­ity to process what is hap­pen­ing to and around her. When we trade free play for struc­tured classes in the name of get­ting ahead, we are doing just that: get­ting ahead of our­selves.    

It may sound to you like I am not happy with my deci­sion.  On the con­trary: I am thrilled.  Yes, I mourn the sweet sim­plic­ity of a neigh­bor­hood expe­ri­ence for my daugh­ter.  But this first year has been a gift nonethe­less. Lili loved her teacher so much, she some­times called her Mama, and vice versa. She marched around those hall­ways and up and down the stairs like she owned the place.  She now wakes up and reads half a dozen books by her­self in bed, before begin­ning her day.

Ultimately, I won­der how this accel­er­ated early edu­ca­tion will affect her, or her future.  Will it make it eas­ier for Lili to get into a bet­ter mid­dle school?  Will we see a domino effect, thus help­ing her to an excel­lent high school?  Should I even be think­ing this far in advance?

I look back on last year, when I won­dered why I was jump­ing through all those hoops.  Now, as Kindergarten has come to an end, I am able to under­stand how my daugh­ter has grown, and learned to deal with her expe­ri­ences.  I real­ized, this past year, that the onus of choos­ing the right kinder­garten was about set­ting my child up for a life­time of not just learn­ing, but lov­ing to learn. 

Making the right kinder­garten choice is pos­si­bly one of the biggest edu­ca­tional deci­sions of a child’s life­time.  If they are in love with learn­ing in their early years, there’s no hold­ing them back.  Lili has found her spot at her Chelsea school.  She was just intro­duced to her First Grade teacher for next year, and now I’m find­ing pieces of paper from Lili prac­tic­ing writ­ing her name.  My daugh­ter is at home in her school, and that’s all I want for now.  Who knows where she will be for mid­dle school, but she has told me there are plans in the pipeline to be a pilot or a doc­tor.  As long as there’s a twirly skirt involved.

 

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Gifted and Talented In New York City

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I met Alex as he was prepar­ing for the bat­tery of tests NYC stu­dents must often take to get into the gifted and tal­ented classes or Hunter Elementary School.He was such an engag­ing stu­dent and we enjoyed our time together.

I once asked him if he was inter­ested in writ­ing a book and showed him my first stu­dent authored book: “Chess Is My Game”. He imme­di­ately took to the idea and is now proud to present it to you. He took spe­cial plea­sure in dress­ing up and choos­ing loca­tions for the shot. I think chil­dren will delight in the illus­tra­tions and will relate to their inno­cence. 

I would love it if you checked it out and bought it for your grand­chil­dren, chil­dren, or stu­dents. It can be a huge moti­va­tor for any­one who is learn­ing to write and even author their own book. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/My-Stuffies-Alex-Agrawal/dp/1490473629/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371822054&sr=1–1&keywords=my+stuffies

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Karate Is My Sport, a book by and for young readers

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As a par­ent edu­ca­tor and a tutor for early read­ers, I am pleased to announce the  sec­ond book authored by my youngest stu­dent. 

Once a child has a solid foun­da­tion of let­ter sounds they can begin to use inven­tive spelling to rep­re­sent words. Photographs or their own illus­tra­tions add the fin­ish­ing touch. 

As a sea­soned and now retired kinder­garten teacher, I am able to pub­lish a book that has con­trolled vocab­u­lary, repet­i­tive and pre­dic­tive text with pic­tures to pro­vide a solid clue to the unknown word. The result is a book that the author is very proud of, as well as a book that can be an inst­pi­ra­tion to young read­ers and writ­ers in gen­eral.

http://www.amazon.com/Karate-Is-Sport-Johji-Nakada/dp/1490378642/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371399829&sr=8–3&keywords=karate+is+my+sport

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Kindergarten in New York City

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Kindergarten and Play

 

Last week, in yoga, the teacher inno­cently instructs us to be play­ful with our pose. Pretend that you are in kinder­garten she relates. I fume. Kindergarten has very lit­tle to do with play these days…..though I wish it did.  And why do peo­ple still think it does? There are schools that still value a less struc­tured and aca­d­e­mic cur­ricu­lum but those are few and far between. Many preschools, as well as par­ents, encour­age learn­ing basic skills such as the alpha­bet and num­ber recog­ni­tion as a way to give their child a leg up. The value of pre­tend play, exer­cis­ing fine and gross motor skills (small and large mus­cles,) and build­ing a child’s capac­ity for com­plex learn­ing tasks are sig­nif­i­cantly diin­ished. Instead, kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum goes straight to hard core aca­d­e­mics with limit­ted time for a five year old to be emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally free. Easels are gone…too messy. Fingerpainting is out. Clay is rarely used and soon crayons will be sub­sti­tuted for iPads. Worksheets are fre­quently used.

 

Many edu­ca­tors believe that this push to teach kinder­gart­ners in this way is inap­pro­pri­ate and inef­fec­tive. Children who are allowed to explore and exper­i­ment are more likely to be moti­vated to learn. Critical think­ing, which is at the heart of the new com­mon core cur­ricu­lum, is increased and chil­dren develop their social emo­tional skills in a sup­port­ive set­ting.

 

Parents who strive to give their chil­dren the best edu­ca­tion may look for the most rig­or­ous set­ting. In my opin­ion, a school that pro­vides great stim­u­la­tion for a child’s nat­ural curios­ity and then sup­ports them with a flex­i­ble envi­ron­ment in which to explore will be most effec­tive.

 

New York City pro­vides many options in both the pub­lic and pri­vate arena. Tests such as the ERB for pri­vate schools are impor­tant to some schools but not oth­ers. The G&T pro­gram may be an option but is often unac­cept­able. Hunter Elementary School is a great school but your child must per­form excep­tion­ally on the Stanford Binet Exam which is an IQ test. There are many gen­eral pub­lic schools that are won­der­ful options if you live within the school’s bound­aries. 

As you explore kinder­garten for your child’s next aca­d­e­mic step be aware of the trap­ping of the so called “top ten schools.”There is more to look at than a school’s rank­ing. Observe well and seek the advice of edu­ca­tors you respect. 

 

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2007/05/kindergartens_not_just_play_an.html

http://childparenting.about.com/od/schoollearning/a/kindergarteners_today_are_playing_less.htm

 

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Early Readers

chess is my game

 

As a par­ent edu­ca­tor and a tutor for early read­ers, I am pleased to announce the first book authored by my youngest stu­dent. 

Once a child has a solid foun­da­tion of let­ter sounds then they can begin to use inven­tive spelling to rep­re­sent words. Photographs or  their own illus­tra­tions add the fin­ish­ing touch. 

As a sea­soned and now retired kinder­garten teacher, I am able to pub­lish a book that has con­trolled vocab­u­lary, repet­i­tive and pre­dic­tive text with pic­tures to pro­vide a solid clue to the unknown word. The result is a book that the author is very proud of, as well as a book that can be an inst­pi­ra­tion to young read­ers and writ­ers in gen­eral. 

I am proud of this first book and will soon be announc­ing his sec­ond in this series. Karate Is My Sport.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Is-Game-Johji-Nakada/dp/1484110757/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1368909843&sr=8–5&keywords=chess+is+my+game

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