All posts by Mary Miele

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

And Why Early Bedtimes Matter

By Mary Miele Learning Specialist and Founder of Evolved Education

I never went to sleepaway camp, but when I was in college, I came home for a summer to work and stay in my childhood home. The transition back home after living away and on my own for the year at school was tremendously challenging. I remember having a hard time communicating with my parents and siblings. I had to account for family member’s routines and needs. I was asked to help around the house and with the care of my sisters. It was hard to live away from home and then come back to live there.

I can only imagine how the transition back home after sleep away camp is for our young students. Camp requires a level of independence and all children will change and grow over the course of time, so who you dropped off at the start of the summer will be different than who you pick up. Adjusting to the changes which happen over 4,  6 or 8 weeks requires some time. The transition won’t happen overnight.  In addition, camp is exhausting. Children tend not to put their guard down and relax completely until they are home. This is normal. A mother I spoke to yesterday let me know that her ten year old son has been sleeping and playing video games ever since he got back. He seems “out of it”.  Sleep and rest seem really necessary all of a sudden.

When I write these kinds of blogs I consider what our clients are struggling with and try to offer some perspective and expertise to help. So, if your child is transitioning into school again (and yes, that transition starts a few weeks BEFORE school begins), here are some nuggets of advice that could help you navigate the transition with your child:

  • Get into the routine of school again. My pediatrician and I were speaking yesterday about my son’s sleep. He’s 10 and can’t seem to get enough of it. I had been letting him sleep in, but she let me know that “sleeping in” is terrible sleep. The better way to get better sleep is to get to bed early. I proposed an early bed time to my son this week – he was shockingly fine with it! So, at 7:45, we are all settling in. He can read, he can relax, but he’s in his bed, with no electronics and no TV. It’s complete down time. He has to be up at 7 for his activities during these weeks, and that is still a little tough for him, but the early bed time ensures that he’s getting enough sleep to function, and I just started this with him–I know through experience that it’s important to give new routines at least two weeks to make a difference. So my advice to you is to stick with the changes over time until you make a judgment call that they are working or not.

 

  • Involve your child in the transition plan. Yes, I did say “plan”. It’s important for children to learn how to plan ahead and parents in this day and age do not typically give their children enough opportunities to be in the driver’s seat to make these plans. I’m guilty too – it’s so much easier just to take the reigns myself. I’m great at planning. I’ll make some playdates and go to the library. School will be here in no time. This approach is not the best for any child, though. It short circuits their opportunity to activate neurons in their brain. Instead, sit your child(ren) down and ask them what they need to do to transition back to school. Mention the idea from the pediatrician about an earlier bedtime. Talk about what options the children have for activities during their daytimes. Show them a calendar so they can see how much time they have until school begins. Involve your child in creating a list of action items everyone will do to prepare for the transition. Parents with teenagers may need to involve a professional to run interference to help with the planning. I find that most teenagers resist the advice of their parents and outsourcing the creation of these plans to a mentor, tutor or education professional can be extremely helpful. One student of ours was just set up with this kind of support — she was procrastinating doing her summer work. Her mother was getting very stressed about it and called us for support. We sent over an Evolved Education ELA teacher who worked with her child on getting the assignment started and mapping out a plan. Since we are a whole child company, the teacher also talked with the student about her overall transition plan — when she would get supplies, what clothes she needed to get for the start of school, what her am routine would be like (she’s starting high school in the fall), what her feelings were about the start of a new school and grade 9!! The ELA teacher partnered with our student’s mother to bridge communication and help with ways to effectively support her daughter.  The ELA teacher Skyped with the student over the course of last week and will do so this week to check in and to provide accountability to be sure the work is getting done. This sort of support allowed the student to become prepared and her mother to relax and focus on enjoying some time with her daughter instead of fighting over the summer work assignment. For some teenagers, there are preferred ways to receive support from parents, and our teachers have an understanding of how to help parents understand how teenagers need to be supported. The transition to middle, high school and college are transitions for parents as well – in many ways parents are all undergoing great changes as school begins.

 

  • Trouble shoot challenges and get support before they snowball. A client of ours called in to discuss a common challenge for our middle, high school and college age students and that is to complete summer work. Most students have to leave this work to the last few weeks of August because of camp and travel. Students get overwhelmed when they look at a 300 page book that has been mandated to read. Starting is hard and keeping the stamina going to really read something with great focus and attention to detail is tiring — if you don’t believe me, try it along with your student. It’s a great exercise to do. Help your child by doing some paired work (you work while they work). Read the book aloud to your child and be sure they take great notes — this causes them to be very prepared for the start of school. The more prepared a student is for the start of school, the happier they are to be there!

 

  • Know that transitioning is a process. This process will begin now, but it will not end when school begins. Often students are on a high during the first week of schoool– there is excitement in seeing friends and teachers again, in getting the supplies and starting a new grade. About a week or so into school, children can experience some anxiety, sadness, or stress. This is usually very normal and it is also where early bedtimes, strong support systems, and plenty of parent-child face time can be helpful.

If you have an issue that you are concerned about, email me to book a call at mary@evolveded.com.  When you plan and work in a supportive way through the back to school transition, it can be a magical time!

Back to School: The Parent To Do List

The Parent To-Do LIST

It’s August, and that means many families are gearing up for back to school. Here is a list of items every parent can do to make the transition back to school easier for students of all ages. Remember, Great Preparation = Success!

1. Calendars

Each family should have two types of calendars — a digital one and a paper/wall calendar. The digital calendar, google or iCal, is detailed with exact times/dates/locations. The wall calendar provides a visual for your family, which anchors them to time and dates.  It will include general events such as the start of school, a wedding, a sporting event, routined extra-curricular classes.

A recommended wall calendar
From Papersource $29.95

Here’s your list for this section:

  • Set up your google calendar or iCal for each member of your family. Go to your child’s school calendar and input dates for the year into your calendar. See if there is a way to share calendars or update calendars so that you do not have to input each date manually. Get your older children involved in sharing their calendars with you — teach them the basics of digital calendaring including how to input an event, a repeating event and how to put in locations and invite others to events.
  • Buy the wall calendar and post in a central location. The kitchen is a pretty popular spot for many families. Have your children help you put in the key dates for the first few months of school. This will provide them security for the transition back to school as well. If you have more than one child, choose a color for each one.

2. Organize Your Stuff

Before school is a great time to get things organized. I have a few key rules for organization. You can use this as your to-list for this section.

  • No one should own more things than they can take care of.
  • Everyone should learn how to organize their things by sifting  and placing (dump everything from one category into a pile and keep what you love and what serves a purpose – give away/throw away all else; and then place back what you will keep into ONE place).
  • Maintenance of organization is the hardest work and needs time and a personalized strategy to be successful. For children, it is important to build time into their schedule to enter dates into calendar, place new items into spaces, or tidy up messy areas.

3. Order/Shop

After you’ve gone through what you have, you should spend time gathering what is needed for the start of school. Most schools have supply lists. You can also read our blog on suggested school supplies.

Involve your child in the process of buying clothes, back packs, and school supplies because it allows them to transition well back to school.

4. Complete Paperwork

Ah, the fun part of the back to school time for all parents is here!

  • Go grab a file box and start to pile up the forms you need to fill out. Teach your children to place forms from school into these trays.

    Poppin File Tray $24
  • Create a folder on your desktop to  house digital forms such as medical records and other pdf documents.
  • Invest in a quality scanner to help you digitize forms you want to keep. This will also help your children to scan homework assignments and other documents.
Scan Snap Scanner — an investment, but well worth it! amazon.com $429.95

5. Get Into Routines Again

About 2 weeks before school begins, it is important to get students back into school routines. They will need to have this time to get into the rhythms of sleeping, eating, and working.

  • Establish bedtime routines and morning routines. If you want tips on how to do this, read a blog I wrote about how to establish morning and afternoon routines for some additional ideas.
  • Many students need to use the two weeks before school begins to work on summer work and to boost areas of reading and math. If you need support in these areas, consider contacting us at info@evolveded.com or 917-388-3862 to book a tutor via Skype or in person during this crucial time.

 

Enjoy the last days of summer where ever you are! Here’s a short- hand list of the to-dos included in this blog for your reference:

  1. Calendar (digital and wall)
  2. Organize your Things (sift, place and maintain)
  3. Order and Shop
  4. Complete Paperwork
  5. Get into Routines Again

 

 

Back to School 2017

Get Ready for Back-to-School

Our Annual School Supply Picks

By: Mary E. Miele, founder The Evolved Education Company, learning specialist and mother of three children

It’s that time of year again — and if you are me, this is better than my birthday!  Whether you need  pens, pencils, index cards, folders, binders, paper or rulers, look no further! Included in this list are some of our favorite supplies. Enjoy and share the love!

Pens, Pencils and Highlighters: Why splurge? We find that when students can be colorful with their work by color-coding notes, edits, corrections and etc., they are enthusiastic about event the most mundane of assignments.

Le Pens $22.47 Amazon.com
Le Pens $28.92
Uni-ball Pens $17.36 Amazon.com
Uni-ball Pens $16.56 Amazon.com
Pilot G2 Retractable Pens $8.78 Amazon.com
Pilot G2 Retractable Pens $8.34 Amazon.com
Ballpoint Pens $10 Poppin.com
Ballpoint Pens $10 Poppin.com
White TIp-Top Rollerball Pen
White Tip-Top Rollerball Pen $12                                                                       Poppin.com

Pencils and Erasers

Ticonderoga Pencils $5.69 Amazon.com
Erasers $2.28 Amazon.com
Erasers $1. 69  Amazon.com

Highlighters

Highlighters $4.99 Amazon.com
Highlighters $2.00  Amazon.com
Thin Highlighters $10 Poppin.com
Thin Highlighters $10 Poppin.com

Colored Pencils

Watercolor Pencils $24.96 Amazon.com
Watercolor Pencils $13.96 Amazon.com
Colored Pencils $55 Amazon.com
Colored Pencils $26.48      Amazon.com
Pencil Sharpener $5.20 Amazon.com
Pencil Sharpener $1.59 Amazon.com

 Pencil Cases: One for each kind of student!

Case It Pencil Case $14.43 Amazon.com
Case It Pencil Case $14.69 Amazon.com
Pencil Pouch $12 Poppin.com
Pencil Pouch $12 Poppin.com
ban.do Floral Pouch $14.95 papersource.com
ban.do Floral Pouch $14.95
papersource.com
Canvas Pouches $19.95 papersource.com
Canvas Pouches $19.95
papersource.com

Staplers: You never know when you’ll need one! This one is sturdy and can be used by even the youngest of students.

Staplers $14 Poppin.com
Staplers $14 Poppin.com

Scissors: Students are cutting and pasting all the way through high school.

Scissors $11 Poppin.com
Scissors $11 Poppin.com
Kids' scissors $2.94 Amazon.com
Kids’ scissors $2.94 Amazon.com

Three-hole punch: Do handouts get misplaced or ruined in pocket folders? Punching and sorting handouts into binders will keep your student neat and organized.

Three Hole Punch For the Desk $29.99 Amazon.com
Three Hole Punch
For the Desk
$29.99 Amazon.com
3 Hole Punch for Binder $5.95 Amazon.com
3 Hole Punch for Binder
$5.95 Amazon.com

Folders: Choose folders that speak to your student’s interests or go with a different color for each subject.

Meadsports 2 pocket folders $16.41 Amazon.com
Meadsports 2 pocket folders $16.49 Amazon.com
Pocket Folder $6 Poppin.com
Pocket Folder $6 Poppin.com
Pocket Folder $3 Poppin.com
Pocket Folder
$3 Poppin.com

Paper: long gone are the days of buying hole repair stickers – go for the reinforced paper and never again worry about loosing a sheet!

College Ruled Reinforced Paper $3.47 Amazon.com
College Ruled Reinforced Paper $6.30 Amazon.com
Graph Paper $3.49 Amazon.com
Graph Paper $5.09 Amazon.com

Notebooks: Select a different color for each subject.

2 Subject Notebooks $15.10 Amazon.com
2 Subject Notebooks
$14.45 Amazon.com
One subject notebook $8 Poppin.com
One subject notebook $8 Poppin.com
Smaller Sized Notebooks $5.43 Amazon.com
Smaller Sized Notebooks
$5.71 Amazon.com

Binders: Zip-up binders come in handy for home filing. At the end of each quarter/semester/course, have your student file papers to keep in a sip-up binder, divided by subject.

Case-it Z-binder $21.99 Amazon.com
Case-it Z-binder $21.99 Amazon.com
Aqua Pocket Binder $10 Poppin.com
Aqua Pocket Binder
$10
Poppin.com
Binder $27.66 for a six pack Amazon.com
Binder $27.66 for a six pack Amazon.com
Mead Flex Binder Assorted Colors and Designs $17.99 Amazon.com
Mead Flex Binder
Assorted Colors and Designs
$17.99
Amazon.com

Dividers: Even if your child’s teachers do not include these on their supply list, these are a must for optimizing organization.

Dividers
Dividers $4 Poppin.com
Dividers $2.99 Amazon.com
Dividers $2.99 Amazon.com

Index Cards and Post-It Notes: Colors keep students interested and organized!

Oxford Index Cards are the best–hands down. I happen to like the colored ones, but they come in white too–lined or blank. $5.99/300 cards at Amazon.com
Index Cards $5 Poppin.com
Index Cards $5 Poppin.com
Index Card Box $14.54 pack of 4 Amazon.com
Index Card Box
$14.54 pack of 4
Amazon.com
Post-it Notes $6.59 Amazon.com
Post-it Notes $4.69 Amazon.com

Measuring Instruments

Ruler $8 Poppin.com
Ruler $8 Poppin.com
Clear Ruler $8 Poppin.com
Clear Ruler
$8 Poppin.com
Compass $5.48 Poppin.com
Compass $2.99 Amazon.com
Protractor $7.72 Amazon.com
Protractor $11.29 Amazon.com

Backpacks: go for style, practicality and good posture with these selections.

Hershel Backpack Grey $59.99 Amazon.com
Hershel Backpack Grey
$59.99 Amazon.com
Jansport Backpack $56.88 Amazon.com
Jansport Backpack $56.88 Amazon.com
Lands End Backpack $22.00 Landsend.com
Lands End Backpack $22.00
Landsend.com
LeSportSac Function Backpack $ lesportsac.com
LeSportSac
Function Backpack
$125.00
lesportsac.com

Planners: Stylish and practical. Get your students planning at the elementary school level so that it’s second-nature when they arrive in middle school.

Very Busy Planner $32.95 papersource.com
Very Busy Planner $32.95
papersource.com
Ban.do Girl Crush Planner $20.95 papersource.com
Ban.do Girl Crush Planner
$20.95
papersource.com
Academic Planner $15.42 amazon.com
Academic Planner
$15.42
amazon.com

Imagery: Making an Impact On the College App Essay

Imagery: Making an Impact On the College App Essay

By: Jonathan Shapiro, New York Writing and Evolved Education

Recently, I was working with a high school junior on her Common App essay. She told me she had lost 40 lbs. “Great! What was the turning point when you committed to losing weight?” I asked.  She described how her friend and her mom could not get a prom dress over the student’s shoulders.

That scene, that image, of having her mom and friend try to pull a dress over the student’s shoulder became the opening scene of the student’s essay. After detailing her transformation from overweight and shy to thinner and more confident, the student closed her essay with another image: singing a school cheer at an assembly of her peers.

In terms of writing, and something that most high school students are not aware of, a key to moving readers is imagery, language that evokes feeling through visual or auditory sensations.

The essay of the shy student who wrote about trying to pull her dress over her shoulders, and, then, triumphantly, confidently, leading her school from the gymnasium floor in a cheer, will move readers to feel her struggle and her joy. The student, then, will have a greater chance of her essay affecting readers than those whose writing stays broad, abstract, general, vague. Most students write broadly, and abstractly, and their essays will not move readers as much as they could.

The goal for writers of personal statements is to have their readers feel, so that readers on the admissions committee nod, say yes, or wow, or unbelievable, and then, lets invite this student to our school.  

Jonathan Shapiro of NewYorkWriting has been helping students write personal statements for their college applications for more than 20 years. His students have been accepted to the top schools in the country, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and many many more. To find out more about his work, visit newyorkwriting.com and to sign up for his summer course at Evolved Education click here

What Happens When Summer Comes and Students Take the Road Less Traveled?

What Happens When Summer Comes and Students Take the Road Less Traveled?

By: Gina Rotundo

To do summer work or not to do summer work, that is the question

In just a few weeks, I will begin a familiar battle with my kids. Should they be doing academics during the summer? For one daughter, homework is assigned, but usually not collected nor graded. For the other, no summer work is assigned. Both scenarios make my job even more difficult. How can I MAKE them do summer work? As I was plotting out our summer plans, it occurred to me there are more plans this year with camps, traveling, family time…I realized, the battle this year would be bigger than ever.

Why DO I CARE SO MUCH?! Why do I so desperately want them to do work over the summer? Why can’t I be more relaxed about it? The answer to these questions lies in my experience. My kids are entering 5th and 10th grades. Over the years, I have tried everything, including not making them do anything at all.

If they take the road most traveled and do nothing all summer long, I KNOW what will happen for the first three months of the next school year and it’s worse than the summer battle. Not to mention, it is unfair to their teachers that they have to spend so much time on material from the previous year. So, this year I decided to hire a tutor who is flexible and can meet both in person and via FaceTime when we are away.

Here is why I insist my kids take the road less traveled, but the one that WILL make all the difference, just as it did for Robert Frost.

Continuity Insurer: If your students don’t spend time over the summer maintaining knowledge and skills, they will ride the infamous Summer Slide. And, just like real slides, going down is fast and easy. Climbing to the top, especially when you’re doing it over and over again is exhausting.

Stress Releaser:  September – December at EEC is MAYHEM and it gets really bad after the first report card, especially for those in new schools. Transition is hard, especially for kids. Give your child the benefit of a smooth transition. In our house, school ends, but tutoring continues. Yes, our tutor will visit or Facetime with my kids each week, just as she does all year long.

Confidence Booster:  Summer study is the only time your children can study and not be measured by an arbitrary and sometimes unfair system of grades. Summer assignments or summer camps that incorporate learning do it for the Love of Learning and that is something we all need more of!

Learning Style Facilitator: During the off months, educators and kids can freely explore how one learns best. Without the pressure of due dates, strict schedules and bedtimes, kids can explore the many different ways to learn and determine what works best for their individual learning styles.

Social-Emotional-Physical Enhancer: During the summer, academics and skills can be reinforced and learned outside, poolside, in the park, at the museum and through new mediums – one-to-one in person, Facetime, small groups, etc. Learning in new and relaxed environments allows one to thrive and will ultimately contribute to one’s intellectual growth.  

Contact us for a free phone consultation on how to get your kids studying this summer! 917-388-3862 or info@evolveded.com

 

To Watch or Not To Watch; That is the Question: 13 Reasons Why You Might Not be Able to Control What Your Kids Watch, But You Can Control How They Process It

To Watch or Not To Watch; That is the Question: 13 Reasons Why You Might Not be Able to Control What Your Kids Watch, But You Can Control How They Process It

By: Mary Miele and Gina Rotundo, The Evolved Education Company

If you have not already heard about it, 13 Reasons Why is a series on Netflix that many young people are watching. In the series, a teenager commits suicide and she blames 13 people in her life. The mystery of how she came to her decision is revealed in a series of tapes she leaves behind. The series has been banned in places like New Zealand because adults feel it is too graphic and too upsetting to young people. The series is based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Jay Asher. It has been translated into 35 languages and is also an International Best Seller. It has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years. I knew it was a mystery about a girl’s death, but never knew it was about a suicide. It’s no wonder my daughter never read it.

In NYC, schools are sending messages to parents warning them to not allow their children to watch the series. For many families, though, this warning is too late. They have already watched it, and the story is becoming part of their thoughts and most intimate conversations among friends. Its message connects with many of our young people. Teenagers in the movie engage in social ostracising, bullying, undeage sex and drinking and rape. The story could be unfolding in any high school, in any part of the world. It could be any of our kids.

Suicide is final. Controversy around whether she had a choice or made the right choice is what all the kids are talking about. Were there signs? Are the 13 people really responsible?  And now there is an off-spin trend – kids are now making their own lists of 13. “If you were to do it, who would your 13 be?” Apparently, everyone has a list. My daughter asked me if I had made MY list. Apparently, if you have seen the series, you ought to have a list.

At the end of the last episode the directors and cast are interviewed. Watch it. They all agreed the film needed to be made and that important conversations would happen as a result. Selena Gomez is the director. All the kids know she is open about her struggles with anxiety and depression. She is the face of our kids’ generation – they are self-aware; these issues matter to them; and, they want to talk about them all the time.

We are not here to tell you whether you should or should not let your kids watch this show. That boat has sailed. The truth is, they are already watching it. If you have banned it, they are most likely watching with friends, on their phones, or when you are asleep. I remember Judy Blume books were banned from my elementary school because she talked about menstruation in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. What book did every single 6th grader have hidden under her bed? Yep.

Here are 13 reasons why you can’t really control what your kids watch, but you can control how they process what they consume:

1) Understand, where there is a will, there is a way.

Students will be talking about this series in school, and everyone will be curious. Where there is a will, there is a way. No matter how closely you watch your child, there is a way for them to view this material. Peers are often the window into these kinds of experiences. You want them coming to you with these difficult conversations first.

2) Know what happens when mom and dad say no.

Teenagers are in a position to test limits and to question authority. It is actually an important part of their development. They will likely not respond well to “no” or “don’t do this,” without explanation. It might even encourage them further. Offer to watch it together.

3) Recognize that social ostracization is the worst for a teenager.

Everyone is talking about it, and when a teenager can’t be a part of the conversation, this can be very painful. It’s important to give your child a WAY to be included, even if they are experiencing the scenario in a different way…which leads me to #4.

4) Empower you kid.

Talk with them about 13 Reasons Why. Ask them if they’ve seen it. If they haven’t, ask them if their peers are talking about it. Open the lines of communication.

5) Make it a teachable moment.

Watch the show and teach your child HOW to handle different issues that come up. Talk about “what if…” and discuss coping techniques for how to handle the situations which came up in the show. You might be surprised. My daughter and her friends were ANGRY at Hannah’s choice to commit suicide and blame it on her classmates. They talked about all the things she could have done differently. They were also disappointed in Hannah’s guidance counselor’s inability to see the signs. A wake-up call for adults that work with kids!

6) Be proactive, not reactive.

If you feel your child is NOT worried about these situations, remember that your child is spending 6-7 hours away from you each day. Your child is speaking with friends who may not have involved parents. The topic may come up. It is better to be proactive instead of reactive. Speak about the issues before they become an issue for your child. As a wise person once said, “You might be too early, but you don’t want to be too late.”

7) Give your teenager a WAY to be included.

If your child’s peers start talking about 13, what do you want your child to do? Leave the conversation? Engage in conversation? Show concern for their friends? Think about this and then give your child a game plan. This is what the show is about, these are the characters, this is what happens. It’s sad. It’s dark. It’s difficult. If you haven’t seen it, you can still engage in the conversation by asking your friends questions about how they are feeling.

8) Role play important conversations.

Even elementary school kids are talking about it, especially if they have older siblings. My 10-year old knows my 15-year old has anxiety and although I didn’t let her see the series, she knows what it’s about and has begged her older sister not to kill herself. As a parent, that is SO HARD to hear; but, it is impossible to ignore. I watched the entire series in one day. Yes, I binged it and I am certain some of your kids are binging too.

9) Don’t assume your child knows everything presented in the movie to the sophistication that you do.

The issues that are presented in a series such as 13 are complex and sophisticated. It is easy for a teenager to miss nuances and hidden layers within a story. You should watch the show and make a list of all of the points of view and underlying meanings you notice. Be ready to have open conversations about these tough issues and answer questions honestly.

10) Understand they will know someone who suffers what Hannah and the others suffer.

The truth is that these are real issues our kids are contending with or know of someone who is – depression, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, social ostracization, sexual assault and suicide, just to name a few.

11) Know the signs.

We pay a lot of lip service to this, but do we really know the signs of depression in teens? How is it different from their everyday mood swings? Do your research. Ask a therapist. Watch the series.

12) Create your village! Surround your child with trusting adults,  reach out to them and learn from them.

Spouses, partners, siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, babysitters, friends, therapists, tutors, guidance counselors, coaches, advisors, teachers – you would be surprised at what your child will share with others that he or she will not share with you.

13) Be curious, not furious.

If you have banned 13 Reasons Why and your child has watched/read it anyway, be curious – ask questions and listen.
Have questions or need support? Call us at 917.388.3862 or info@evolveded.com

 

Admissions Letters: How to Help Your Child With the News

Admissions Letters: How to Help Your Child With the News

By Mary Miele, Founder of The Evolved Education Company
When one door closes, another one opens.

We know the story. You and your student had hopes high for a particular school. The foundation was laid – in the best possible way. The past months have been all about tours, tests, grades, interview prep and hours of research. Anticipation grew.

The letter arrives. It is opened, read. And, stomachs sink. There on the page is the name of a school not at the top of the list. Parents and students are left with an emotional ride which requires some skills and coping mechanisms.

We’ve been there — with everyone from PreK through College. Here is some well said advice for how to steer those emotions and how you can teach your student to manage the disappointment that comes with being denied a top choice admittance.

State the facts.

No where else but in NYC do young families have to deal with letters of rejection from desired schools. If your child did not get into a top choice school, it is worth stating this fact.

Of course, college admissions is another story, and around the country, often this is the first time a student is encountering rejection.

Remind your student that at the end of the day, all of the schools placed on an application are good schools (or else you shouldn’t have put them there). I am reminded of my own college experience, where I went to my second choice school. At the time, I was devastated. I thought my life was over. I went to this school, and I made it work. At the end of my four years, I couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else. My experiences were amazing and fulfilling. I learned there are actually multiple ways to have a successful education.

Answer questions.

What am I going to say to my friends?

Tell them the truth. You got into name school here. It was not your first choice, but that we (the parents) are looking into any options for appeal, and that if at the end of the day, you end up going to name school here, that is okay. Name school here is a great school, and we will all find ways to make it work. You are going to have a good experience. (provide that glass half full reaction to unexpected news!)

How am I ever going to get over this?

Ever heard the saying, “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me?” Empower your child with some real coping skills. What do you do when you encounter rejection? Provide those ideas. It may help to know that often school admission rejections have little to do with a qualified candidate’s credentials. Other factors may have gone into the decision such as demographics,  group dynamics or numbers from a particular school. If it is possible to get feedback from an admissions office about a student’s application, that is also sometimes helpful.

How am I ever going to go to school with out insert best friend name here?

Ah! There are more than one ways to remain someone’s friend. The separation of besties is a pre-teen and teenage challenge, but we adults can remind them of how this is only the first time they’ll likely encounter such an occurrence. It is best to find ways to foster friendships even when they are not convenient. Participate in a club, go to camp together, write letters or emails, be friends on social media — there are so many great options! Plus, new friends will be made.

Provide perspective.

Talk to your child about experiences you’ve had with rejection. Let them know how you felt and what you did to over come these experiences.

Remind your child that rejection does not indicate a great fault. Rejection happens because of an opinion or an evaluation or even a metric completely out of your control — sometimes having nothing to do with you or who you are.

The best possible thing to do when you encounter a rejection is to learn from the experience — if there is something to learn  — and then move on. Be even more amazing!

Do what you can do.

If you feel your child was wrongly denied entrance into a school, then ask questions. Appeal the decision.

I’m always about providing a “no regrets” experience, so follow suit and be sure you have not left any stone un-turned. This is your child’s experience, and you want to be sure you’ve done everything you can to provide your child with the opportunities they qualify for.

Block out the noise.

Your friends are talking about the schools they got into. Parents are calling you to share their news. You haven’t heard from Cathy– that must mean they didn’t get a good spot. Did you hear!? So and so didn’t get in anywhere!!! The gossip around school admissions can be exhausting and really not productive.

Try to block out the noise of “where everyone got in,” and focus instead on spending time with your child. Go do something else for a while — read a book, go to a movie, call an old friend who doesn’t live in NYC or who isn’t within the college admissions process. I promise, this too shall pass.

Circle back.

Come back to the conversation over time. Your child may need time to digest the rejection and to cope with it. That is okay; however, continue to check in with your child to be sure that they are truly managing the situation healthfully.

Of course, if you notice your child falling into longer periods of sadness or despair, address this sooner, rather than later. I always like to speak up to our students by making an observation, and then asking a question — Hey, Sam, I notice you’ve been looking a little glum lately, What’s that about?

Teach compassion and empathy.

Even if your child did receive a top choice placement, admission letter times are great opportunities to teach compassion and respect for peer experiences of rejection.

Your child’s peers may be experiencing rejection. They may need to speak about this with someone. Open lines of communication. Ask them if they are okay, and if there has been much talk about schools among their friends.

Offer ways to display compassion and empathy. Even though you and your family are excited about your admission, you might want to be sensitive that not everyone is having the same experience. Teach your child how to be kind and compassionate through example. Encourage your child to reach out to their friends who are experiencing rejection and offer support. It is during these times that a real friend is often really needed!

Need help?

Call us. Email us. We are here for you and your amazing children.

917 388 3862 • info@evolveded.com • www.evolveded.com

 

 

What is Learning Style and Why Does it Matter to Your Child?

What is Learning Style and Why Does it Matter to Your Child?

by: Mary Miele

What type of learner is your child?

A very distinguished developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, developed a model of eight different types of intelligence.  When you glance at the list of the eight different types of intelligence below, think about whether your child shows strengths or weaknesses in any of these areas. Once you pinpoint your child’s strengths and weaknesses intellectually, you will have more direction as to how to best assist your child in a learning environment. You will also have a clearer understanding of and greater perspective on your child’s performance.

Linguistic: This learner thinks in words, using language to express and understand complex meanings; excels in reading, writing, and speaking skills

Logical/Mathematical: This learner thinks of cause-and-effect connections and understands relationships among actions, objects, or ideas; excels in problem solving, calculation skills

Bodily-Kinesthetic: This learner thinks in movement; excels in physical skills such as balance, dance, acting, and working with one’s hands

Spatial: This learner thinks in pictures and perceives the visual world accurately; excels in artistic design and construction skills

Musical: This learner thinks in sounds, melodies, rhythms, and rhymes; excels in musical ability, vocal and instrument ability

Interpersonal: This learner thinks about and understands other people; excels in group interaction skills and sensitivity to people’s motives, intentions, and moods

Intrapersonal: This learner thinks about and understands oneself; skilled in self-assessment

Naturalist: This learner thinks in terms of the natural world, and in understanding patterns of life and natural forces; skilled in animal and plant care

If your child is weak in linguistic learning styles, then he or she may need more visuals to support reading material. If your child is a musical learner, he or she may need auditory supports that allow him or her to listen to explanations of concepts and ideas. If your child is a bodily-kinesthetic or spatial learner, he or she may benefit from more experiential learning with the subject matter.

How does learning style matter to your child?

When a child learns how to learn best, he or she can advocate for himself or herself by asking for information to be presented in the best possible manner.  Each time a student learns successfully, he or she has a higher probability of feeling good about himself or herself and the learning experience.

What we’d love to happen to each of our students is what happened to Jessica. Jessica learned about her learning styles, and when she went to meet with her teacher to review information in preparation for a test, she asked for a visual to help her understand the material. The teacher was very happy to provide this.

Here is an exercise you can do right now with your student or child to determine his or her learning style. Keep in mind that a student will typically have more than one learning style.

1. What kind of book would you like to read for fun?

2. When you are not sure how to spell a word, what are you most likely to do?

 Sing the letters (musical)

3. What’s the best way for you to study for a test?

 Create a music video to review information (musical)

4. Of these three classes, which is your favorite?

 Science class (naturalist)

 

New SHSAT

 There is a new SHSAT 

As you may have heard, the NYC Department of Education has been planning some changes in the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admission Test), which some 30,000 NYC eighth graders take every fall in hopes of admission to one of the city’s eight specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science.

The key takeaways are these:
  • No more scrambled paragraphs or logical reasoning
  • Grammar, syntax and editing questions will replace the removed content on the verbal side of the test
  • The test will be longer
  • The test will include “experimental” questions that are not counted toward scores
  • The math test will include some student-produced “grid-in” questions
  • 4 answer choices instead of 5

These changes are being implemented in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to increase the enrollment in specialized high schools of historically underrepresented demographic groups. The number of African-American and Latino students at the schools has been falling in recent years, a development that has generated much public criticism. Whether these changes will move the needle on diversity is an open question that remains to be answered. In terms of test prep, it is possible that the new content on the test will necessitate more tutoring and teaching.

We have attached a DOE memo summarizing the changes to the test as of Fall 2017. These include:

  • Standard testing time is increasing from 150 minutes to 180 minutes.
  • The verbal section is being renamed the English Language Arts (ELA) section.
  • The ELA section will no longer include scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning questions.
  • The ELA section will now include questions that address revising/editing skills, in addition to continuing to have reading comprehension passages and questions; all ELA questions will be multiple choice questions.
  • The math section will now include five “grid-in” questions, in which students must solve a computational question and provide the correct numerical answer, rather than selecting the answer from various multiple choice options; the math section will also continue to have multiple choice word problems and computational questions.
  • All multiple choice questions will now have 4 answer choices instead of the previous design with 5 answer choices.
  • Each section (ELA and math) will include 57 items: 47 items in each section will be scored, with each question worth 1 raw score point, and the remaining 10 items in each section will be field test items that are not used in determining a student’s score. Scoring and the process for using test results to determine admission to the Specialized High Schools is not changing. See further below for details.

Click here to access the DOE site where you can find information about the SHSAT.

Reprinted from our friends at Noodle Pros

ELA and NYS Math Test Preparation

New York State Testing Preparation at The Evolved Education Company

The Evolved Education Company is offering small group classes, mock testing and private lessons to support students in preparation for the NYS Tests this Spring. Here is what you need to know about the tests and our offerings.
Dates for Tests
 
  • ELA: Tuesday, March 28 – Thursday, March 30
  • NYS Math: Tuesday, May 2 – Thursday, May 4
What to Know about This Year’s Tests
  • This year’s tests are shorter in length
  • There is no time limit on the test
  • The tests contains complex questions (for both ELA and NYS Math)
  • The questions test understanding of concepts, not just mastery of skills.
  • Math contains multi-step problems

What to know about the ELA Test

Questions are text based and students should find answers in the text. There are a good amount of “prove it” questions — requiring students to go back to the text to find the answers and to back up their answers with text evidence.

Passages will be authentic and will be balanced between information and literacy text. For grades 3-5, the texts will balance  information and literacy topics. For grades 6-8, the texts will also include subject-based texts. Students should be familiar with academic vocabulary.

The ELA Test will include passages to read and multiple choice questions, short response questions and extended response questions.

Students should be able to do the following:

  • Find Main Idea by pulling quotes, summarizing them, answering a questions such as “a title similar to this passage would be…”
  • Make Inferences
  • Understand Structure and Craft
  • Be able to read and understand texts above grade level
What to know about the NYS Math Test
The math test focuses on priority standards. Students are required to write out their answers, demonstrate deep understanding of concepts, fluency and application skills.
The test contains multi-step words problems, short answer and extended response questions where the answer must be described using words.
Students must practice reading directions and following them. Some are complex.
For older students who are dealing with finding percent off and tip, they will need to master the concept and skill to solve these multi-step problems.
Often problems relate to real life –such as using a menu, money, sales tax, tip, or riddles.
Test Preparation Class Information

GREAT PREPARATION BEGINS WITH GREAT TEACHING
Introduction

Performance on state tests have an impact on student choice when it comes to middle and high school admissions, particularly for 4th and 7th graders. At EEC, we will defuse the anxiety and stress built up around the process. We instill confidence in our students as we help them to deconstruct the tests, how to approach each question and manage their time on the test day. We make our courses fun and engaging!

EEC Test-Preparation Program: ELA and MATH for 3rd through 8th Graders 

Differentiation: The first part of the program involves getting to know our students. We use the Evolved Education Paradigm and a placement test for ELA and MATH  to determine how each student can thrive in our program. We learn and evaluate a student’s academic history, learning styles, school environment, family environment and social-emotional-physical quotient prior to creating the student’s individualized and custom-tailored program.


Based on the information we gather, we create a test-preparation program that combines content and strategy.  Where applicable: some of the lessons will be whole-class, but most will be created for individuals or small groups of students with similar needs and will include study tactics and approaches and test-taking techniques to alleviate test-taking anxiety and ensure optimal performance on these standardized tests.

Curriculum: We teach both content and strategy and have found it is often best to weave the two together. For example, if we are building vocabulary, we will simultaneously teach students how to look for common root words. For the ELA and NYS Math courses we are ensuring mastery in the priority items for each test and giving plenty of guided and independent practice. In addition, because of our education background and pedagogical strengths, we are able to create lessons that include hands-on activities, games to improve mastery and motivation, and traditional, stamina-building test preparation exercises.

Materials: According to the Department of Education, the exams have been redesigned to cover a broader range of performance indicators including common core standards.  Our preparation materials will reflect the new test formats and common core standards. We use a combination of typical test preparation materials. However, our master test-prep tutors will heavily supplement lessons according to student’s’ individual needs.

Class Structure: Group classes vary according to needs; one-to-one classes are structured according to the specific needs of the student and his or her family.

Teachers: Each test preparation class is taught by certified and trained EEC teachers, and is supervised and overseen by EEC Test Preparation Lead, Christina Amendola. Christina will visit in-class lessons, and she will oversee the curriculum development. She will be collecting and maintaining data analysis on each student’s progress, and working to identify and address specific learning differences so as to determine how lessons will be differentiated and scaffolded, unlocking the potential for each student in the program. What this means for our students is that they will each have careful attention and meaningful instruction in preparation for the State Tests. 

The Evolved Education’s Mock Testing Program

One of the most challenging aspects of taking a standardized test is the newness factor. Even for a seemingly simple task like using one’s pencil to fill in a bubble sheet can be thrown off by testing in a room full of strangers in a strange place or sitting for the unusually long period of time required by most standardized tests.

EEC’s mock testing program involves creating an environment that mirrors the actual test day. The information gathered from each student’s practice test is used to inform future lessons so as to ensure improvement. Each test is graded, data is collected, and feedback including specific follow-up work is provided prior to the next lesson. Additionally, we are able to provide accommodations for students with IEPs or 504s.

Each mock test is given a number grade and detailed feedback. Individual recommendations regarding the number of recommended practice tests an individual student takes will be made as the course progresses. 

There is an additional fee for mock testing and they can register by clicking here.
Here are the dates:
1/22
1/29
2/5
2/12
2/26
3/5
3/12
3/19
3/26
4/2
4/9
4/23
4/30

The Evolved Education’s Partnership with Parents and Caregivers

Inherent to EEC’s whole-child philosophy is our belief that families play a crucial role in the educational endeavors of their children at all points of the educational process. Knowledge is power; and, we empower families with our knowledge not only of what their children are learning, but how they are learning. We provide families with the tools they need to support their children at home in order to make any test preparation process successful.

Teachers will provide families with weekly reports for each student.

The EEC Paradigm and Track Record

Our company’s support for each member of our community, whether their program be one-to-one, small-group, large-group, online or in-person, is individualized. Each child, family and school is unique and our Evolved Education Paradigm allows us to recognize and honor each student’s distinctive strengths and challenges.

EEC provides top quality customized test preparation courses. Families that contract with EEC do so through an understanding and recognition of the importance of a test preparation program that works within a paradigm that is developmentally appropriate for prepubescent and pubescent children because doing so ensures each student will reach his or her academic potential. Of the students we have worked with 99% of them have scored within the top 75% of students who take standardized tests and over 95% of them have scored within the top 99% of the students who take standardized tests. We have a track record of excellent results and look forward to helping your children reach their highest potential!

 

Universal PreK Application Process Information 2017

Universal Pre-Kindergarten: Everything You Need to Find a Program, Apply and Help Your Child Excel

 by Mary Miele from the The Evolved Education Company

A Presentation for Parents: Universal Pre-Kindergarten In NYC

IMPORTANT DATES FOR 2017-2018
  • Applications Open on Monday, January 17, 2017
  • Information Sessions Wednesday, January 18-January 25, 2017
  • Application Due on February 24, 2017
  • Offer Letters sent Late April 2017
  • Pre-register by May 9, 2017
  • Round 2 Application Process April 20- May 9, 2017

Find more details here: DOE Main Webpage

Find more information about UPreK here

What is Universal Pre-K?
  • A free program offered through the NYC Department of Education.
  • Runs five days a week, from September through June.
  • Most programs are full day (6 hours and 20 minutes)
  • Some programs are half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes)
Which are the Different Program Types?
  •  District Schools-Programs: Located within elementary schools
  • NYCEECs: Community-based Organizations that contract directly with the NYCDOE to provide pre-K
  • NYCDOE Pre-K Centers: Unique learning environments dedicated exclusively to pre-K students, led and operated by NYCDOE staff.
  • Charter Schools: Public school programs that contract directly with the NYCDOE.
What is the curriculum?

A Foundation for the Common Core vs. Common Core Curriculum

  • Approaches to Learning: Engagement, Creativity and Imagination, Curiosity and Initiative and Persistence
  • Physical Development and Health
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication, Language and Literacy
What “Academics” Will Be Included?
  • Approaches to Communication
  • Reading: Literature and Foundational Skills
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Arts
  • Technology
How Do You Apply and Enroll Once Accepted?

Step 1: Explore your options! Pre-K Options. Read school reviews, tour schools and reach out to other parents. Use this document as a guide while touring: Pre-K Tour Checklist. Go to an Open House.

Step 2: Submit your application between 1/19 and 2/24 (you may do so online at online application, on the phone at 718-935-2067  (8am-6pm, Monday -Friday) or in person at a Family Welcome Center (8am – 3pm, Monday – Friday). Click here to find a local Family Welcome Centers.

Step 3: Receive offer letter via regular mail or email, if you applied online.

Step 4: Pre-Register before the deadline (you must bring your child with you, proof of child’s date of birth and two proofs of your address: see this list for acceptable documentation).

How Do You Decide What to List on the Application? 
  • You may list up to 12 programs in any zone or district across NYC: If you are interested in district school pre-K programs, and you have a zoned school with pre-K, you are encouraged to list it on your application. While placement is not guaranteed, your child will have a high priority to be admitted to your zoned school.
  • After you list your most preferred choice(s), you should also include other programs in case your child cannot be placed at one of your most preferred programs. Adding more programs to your list will not decrease your chances of receiving an offer to your first choice.
  • Your order matters: List them in your TRUE order of preference : Your ranking of programs does not affect your priority at those programs. You are matched to your highest-ranked program possible, based on your and other applicants’ priorities.
    Listing more programs on your application does not decrease your chances of getting an offer to your first choice program.
  • Eligibility matters: Read the priorities that each program gives– Some NYCEECs may have additional eligibility criteria related to your household income, address, or childcare needs. Click on the Information icon next to choices on your online application or review the Pre-K Directory or Pre-K Finder to check whether there are any additional eligibility requirements at programs you are interested in.
  • If you are interested in half-day and five-hour NYCEEC pre-K programs or charter school programs, contact those programs directly to apply
  • No transportation is provided
  • Some programs offer extended day for a fee

What if you don’t get your first choice as your offering? 

If you do not receive an offer to your first choice program, your child will automatically be placed on the waitlist for that program and any other programs you ranked higher than the program where your child receives an offer. For example, if you receive a placement offer for the program you listed third on your application, your child will automatically be added to the waitlists for your first and second choices. Programs will contact you directly if a seat becomes available for your child; no additional action is required to remain on the waitlist.

Additionally, if you do not receive an offer to any of the programs listed on your application, you will receive an offer to a program with available seats, as close as possible to your home address. Your child will also be placed on the waitlist for all programs listed on your application.

What Should You Expect After You Submit an Application?
  • All families who submit an application by the deadline will receive an offer
  • If none of your preferred programs are available to you, you will be assigned to one by the DOE
  • You might be wait-listed

What Should You Look For in a Pre-K Program? Do Your “Field Work” 

  • Visit the websites of the schools that interest you
  • Read independent reviews about any NYC school here:                      Inside Schools                                                                                                           Noodle
What are the Next Steps? Transitioning to Pre-K

Use this worksheet to guide you through transitioning your child and family into Pre-K and to help your child excel in school.                     Pre-K Next Steps Worksheet

Visit this site to see what your child will be learning in Pre-K          Pre-K Learn

What can you do outside of school to support your                                Pre-K On The Go

EEC Pre-K Services

What  Support is Available to You From Evolved Education Company? 

EEC offers tutoring, consulting, and information sessions.

Tutoring

We create academic support that addresses all aspects of a child’s learning process. We can help families with test preparation, school readiness or academic support.

By creating a Learning Profile for each child using the Evolved Education Paradigm, which includes information about a student’s academic record and standing, organizational and executive function skills, school, home and family environment, as well as emotional well- being—instructors create lessons that meet academic goals for each student.

Consulting Services

Learn about Universal Pre-K process and work in person with a specialist to learn specifics about programs and choices. Develop an individualized Pre-K plan that works for your child and family.

Thinking about moving out of NYC? Explore your child’s schooling options with a school placement specialist. Learn details about both public and private schools for your new location or for the location you are researching.

Information Sessions

Gather your group of friends or have EEC come to speak at your child’s school about the PreK process. EEC offers an array of speaking and information sessions year round. Check out our upcoming events here.

To set up an appointment or for a price quote for in-person services, remote services or pre-paid packages :                                                        email us at  info@evolveded.com or call us at 917-388-3862. 

 

Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

EEC Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

With the holidays right around the corner, December is a busy month! The college process is gearing up for juniors and seniors who are eagerly awaiting the results from their applications. Early Decision and Early Action decisions are being mailed this month and a lot can be done in preparation of the New Year.

Here are suggestions for juniors and seniors from EEC’s College Counselor, Molly Kahan.

JUNIORS

Make your first New Year’s Resolution! Juniors should get a jump start on the college process, because starting early will make it manageable, stress-free and fun.

  • Write a description of your “ideal” college and think about what you would like in a college or university in terms of size, location, academic majors, extracurricular activities, sports teams, distance from home, etc.
  • Visit local colleges to get a “feel” for different types of campuses.
  • Create an account with the College Board (collegeboard.org).
  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT in February, March, and/or April.
  • Register for the SAT Subject Exams for June, if applicable.
  • Prepare for the SAT and/or ACT: ask us about EEC’s Test Preparation Program.
  • Schedule college visits over February and Spring breaks.
  • Get involved! Find volunteer opportunities, clubs and extracurricular activities that interest you.
  • Research and apply to summer internship opportunities.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss course selections for senior year.
  • Schedule a college consultation session with EEC’s college counselor, Molly Kahan, LMSW to create an individualized college timeline. You can reach her at college@evolveded.com.

SENIORS

If you have been accepted into an Early Decision school, withdraw all remaining submitted applications.

If you have been accepted into multiple Early Action schools, make your decisions and/or start to compare the financial aid packages.

Complete and submit Regular Decision applications.

  • If you have been deferred from an Early Decision or Early Action school, finalize your college list and submit those applications for the Regular Decision deadlines.
  • Remember to have a well-balanced list of “reach”, “target”, and “likely” schools. Do not get discouraged; you will find a school that is a “good fit” even if it was not your original “dream” school.
  • Send your SAT and/or ACT scores to Regular Decision schools.
  • File the FAFSA and CSS Profile for financial aid if you have not already done so.
  • Research and apply for additional scholarships through the institution or outside organizations.
  • Once all of your applications have been submitted, write thank-you notes to anyone who wrote a letter of recommendation.

After the New Year

Look at important dates and attend an “Accepted Student Day” if you still have not made your final decision.
Visit any schools to which you were accepted and have not yet toured.