Special Section to: Greenwich Post

2014 Education
The Darien Times

The Redding Pilot


New Canaan Advertiser


The Ridgefield Press


The Wilton Bulletin


The Weston Forum


The Lewisboro Ledger

Courtesy of Pear Tree Point School

by Julie Butler
Choosing the “best” nursery school for your child — especially for your first-born — can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Should you just decide by word-of-mouth or by which school is closest to your home or workplace? Which school has the cheeriest classrooms? What is the studentteacher ratio? Which preschool seems to be the least expensive, or will your child get a better first school experience by you paying top dollar? Is it important for the preschool to offer childcare services in the morning, afternoon, or both? According to Parents.com, eight questions to ask are: • What is the educational philosophy of the preschool? • What is the educational background and experience of the teachers and staff?

• Are there active play opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills? • Do the children nap regularly? • Are meals and snacks provided? • Is potty training required? • How is discipline handled? • Will the school provide references? There is seemingly an endless list of questions for those on the preschool prowl. Suggestions from school directors “When considering preschools, finding a place that feels like a ‘good fit’ for your child is essential,” Cricket Mikheev, assistant head of school at Pear Tree Point School in Darien, said. “Look for schools whose values mirror your own; children learn best when expectations are consistent across home and school. Great preschools understand

See Preschool on page 7

Playland Nursery School students enjoy a fire truck visit.

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• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

by Julie Butler
Soccer. Basketball. Football. Gymnastics. Baseball. Fencing. Fencing? Yes, fencing. A sport that a child can start learning at a young age, and one activity that isn’t normally in the lexicon when it comes to kids and parents talking about the usual suspects of athletic pursuits. The four-year-old Darien Fencing Club, located in the VFW Hall on Noroton Avenue in Darien, is a Mecca for kids from both Fairfield and Westchester counties to discover how fencing can be a foil (of sorts) to the inability to concentrate or focus on a particular task at hand. “Fencing is a sport that is intensely individualistic, yet at its core demands consideration of and respect for others,” Jeffrey Binder, owner of the club, said. “It is a physically demanding sport, that is equally mental.” Darien Fencing Club is a member of the United States Fencing Association and is a fully-insured organization, offering group fencing lessons to children age 7 to 13. Classes meet weekly for one-and-a-half hours, and combine general conditioning and footwork skills with instruction on both offensive and defensive fencing maneuvers. “The genesis of our business was multifold,” Binder said. “First, our daughter Sylvie suggested one day that she’d like to show more of her friends how great the sport was and we thought that opening a small club in Armonk (N.Y.) was a great idea to build interest in the sport while helping the coaches from the Fencing Academy of Westchester make some extra money and develop new students. Armonk went very well and then we decided to branch out to a similar demographic, and Darien fit the bill. Four years ago, we opened Darien and have been going steadily ever since with anywhere from 10 to 15 fencers every Sunday for two hours.” The coaches at Darien Fencing are former Olympians who come from the Eastern European countries like the Ukraine and Russia. Their full-time club is the Fencing Academy of Westchester, located in Hawthorne, N.Y. “There are currently 10 fencers training with us with ages ranging from 6 to 13, and about 50% are girls,” Binder said. “We plan and encourage our fencers to compete in at least one tournament every

Courtesy of Darien Fencing Club

other month or so — the skills they are learning in class must be applied in pressure situations to truly experience the joys of the sport. We just had two of our fencers win gold medals at a recent competition at the Peekskill Fencing Center in New York: Doron Lowenberg won a Y10 mixed foil and Andrew Minton of Darien won the gold in the Y12 competition.” Binder’s daughter, Sylvie, age 14, is No. 2 in the U.S.A. in her age category and will be fencing for the U.S. in the upcoming Cadet World Cup in Pisa, Italy, at the end of January. “She started just like all our kids have done in Darien,” said Binder, “with a group class and some privates. One thing leads to

another and the next thing you know, you are fencing internationally.” According to Binder, fencing as an endeavor has the “complete package.” Physically, it is demanding and gives one a strong and flexible body with increasingly quick reflexes. “It is the perfect combination of cardio, strength and speed,” he said. Mentally, it is a constantly changing, very complex problem solving exercise that challenges the mind just like the game of chess or any other strategy game. “One has to plan, anticipate and constantly adjust to situations unfolding before your eyes. It demands quick thinking and analysis. These are some of the reasons colleges love accepting kids who fence— they

are trained to keep their brains functioning under pressure!” Once students reach the age of 13, they can still continue with fencing at Darien Fencing Club on a private lesson basis. Binder also said that the club is starting to develop a weekday class for more options for the older kids. “Fencing is very collegial in that the more experienced fencers must fence and willingly impart information to less experienced fencers as part of the sport’s honor and tradition,” Binder said. More info: 203-539-6359, info@darienfencingclub.com, darienfencingclub.com

On-going classes and workshops in all media for all ages and abilities.
203-966-6668 x.2 www.silvermineart.org
06840 1 037 S il ver min e R oad � �� New Cana an, CT

• January 23, 2014 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


Picking a college major is a big step for young students. Though many adults eventually find themselves working in fields that have little to do with their college majors, many more spend their entire careers in the same field they chose to major in way back in their college days. Choosing a major is a decision that ultimately rests on the shoulders of the students who must consider a host of factors before committing to a specific field of study. But parents can still help their children, whether those kids are already enrolled in college or college-bound, as they make such an important decision that could very well affect the rest of their lives. • Encourage patience. Today's college

students and college-bound kids are living in a world that's significantly different than the one their parents or even older siblings might have encountered. Global and domestic unemployment rates remain high and technology is changing the way many industries conduct business. But students trying to pick a major should avoid picking one too quickly. Just because a certain field is experiencing job growth does not mean that field is ideal for all students. Encourage kids to be patient when choosing a major so they can find the field that's right for them, and not just the major they feel will produce the best job prospects. • Suggest a double major. Many of today's students are fully aware of the difficult job market and the cost of a college education. As a result, such students want to choose a major they feel will put them in the best position to land a well-paying job after college. That's a smart strategy, but it's also one that overlooks the joy of studying a subject you are passionate about. Parents can simultaneously encourage kids to be smart about their job prospects and pursue their passions by suggesting a double major. For example, if your child has a love of art but understands the difficulty in earning a living as an artist, suggest a double major in art and graphic design. This way he or she has more career options upon graduation but still has the chance to pursue a subject he or she is passionate about while in school. • Encourage students to apply for internships. An internship is another great way parents can help kids as they

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Toddlers through Six Years
Toddler and Early Education Programs Reading with Phonics • Excellent Math Programs Foreign Languages • Art • Music Full-Day Pre-K and Kindergarten Programs Extended-Hours Program • Summer Programs After School Enrichment Programs Montessori Certified Staff

96 Danbury Road, Ridgefield Catherine Tango-Dykes, Director ridgefieldmontessori.com
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See Major on page 9

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• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

Sometimes it can be hard to convince kids that learning is fun. While parents can’t necessarily control how exciting the school day is, they can make off-hours learning more fun and exciting — especially when it comes to a potentially hands-on subject like science. It is particularly important to foster an interest in science at an early age. Not only does an understanding of its principles mean a greater understanding of how the world works, but the need for experts in scientific fields is on the rise, according to Labor Department statistics. If you’re not too up on the subject yourself, don’t worry. You don’t need to be Sir Isaac Newton to put a spotlight on science, say experts. “Children are natural explorers. They want to roll over rocks to see what critters are hiding below, and take apart gadgets to see how they work. It’s important to encourage that. We don’t want our kids to just consume technology — we want them to design it, build it, and be innovators,” says “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, an elementary school teacher and co-author of the “Nick and Tesla” book series for kids. Here are a few ways to get started: Experiment Make your home a laboratory. In order for your experiments to be safe and successful, be sure to follow instructions. There are plenty of free online resources that parents can turn to for science fair and experiment

See Science on page 8


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2014-2015 Full-day and Half-day Preschool Registration Available! Ages 2-4
�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� needs. Each of our preschool programs provide children with the opportunity to learn and grow in a nurturing and fun environment, while taking advantage of all the unique activities and experiences the Y has to offer. The Y creates not ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

The Y Preschool Experience Includes:
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We’d love to tell you more about our great programs and show you around. Call 203-966-4528 to schedule a tour. www.newcanaanymca.org/child-development

• January 23, 2014 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


Tablets are poised to grow more popular in the years to come, and many children are anxious to get their very own tablet. But many parents wonder if their kids are ready for it. According to a 2012 report from Pew Research, 22% of American adults now own some type of tablet, while In-Stat research estimates 65% of Americans, or more than 200 million people, will have a smartphone and/or tablet by 2015. According to a fall 2012 report by the Media Technology Monitor, an estimated 26% of the Canadian population has a tablet, more than twice the number of tablet owners just a year earlier. As tablets become the device of choice, many different manufacturers have entered the tablet market, and children have begun to ask for tablets for holiday or birthday gifts, leaving parents wondering if their children are responsible enough to own a tablet that may cost several hundreds of dollars. Price-wary parents should realize that tablet prices vary greatly depending on the device. But a growing number of childfriendly tablets have entered the market, and such devices are designed to be more durable for children who have a tendency to drop and destroy things. Those on the fence about whether to purchase a tablet for a child can consider these options. • The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is a tablet that comes with a selection of educational functions, games and e-books. The device allows parents to decide which apps can be accessed on the device and restrict use to certain periods of time. The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids boasts a seven-inch screen and

will run Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean. The front- and rear-facing cameras are considerably lower in quality than in Samsung’s previous products, down to 3 megapixels and 1.3 megapixels, respectively. • The VTech InnoTab tailors apps to children in a compact device. The screen is just five inches in size, and the tablet comes packed with interactive e-books, learning games and other creative tools. It also has a modest price tag for a child’s first foray into the world of tablets. • The LeapFrog Leappad Ultra is a kid’s learning tablet designed for children between the ages of 4 and 9. It comes with a seven-inch screen, Wi-Fi with kid-safe web access and the ability to connect to a library of more than 800 educator-approved apps, books and more. • The nabi is an Android tablet that is geared entirely toward kids. The nabi comes in several different incarnations (nabi Jr., nabi 2 and nabi XD), depending on the age of the child and the desired features. In July 2013, Fushu Inc., creator of the nabi tablet, received the “Best Tablet 2013: For Kids” award from Laptop magazine for its nabi 2 device. • The Amazon Kindle Fire is quickly becoming a go-to option for parents interested in acclimating their children to a tablet. Less than half of the price of its biggest competitor, the Kindle Fire still allows kids to access a bevy of features. Music, movies and Amazon’s ever-growing trove of e-books are just some of the features that make the Kindle Fire a popular choice.

See Tablet on page 8



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• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

by Melissa Ezarik
A homemade, personalized dry erase board with a frame created of crayons. A darling mod podged wooden apple. A desktop calendar constructed from bar coasters, paper and embellishments — including an embossed dotted background design. And hundreds of other adorable crafty ideas on Pinterest and other sites, leaving you with the notion that nothing but homemade will make your thanks to your child’s sincere. Perhaps baking is your thing and a teacher friend just tipped you off that homemade treats aren’t usually trusted. Or, after buying a sweet apple-for-the-teacher mug, you learned that most teachers could fill a room with the mugs they’ve gotten over the years. Oh, and you just overheard some moms chatting about how they’re giving gift cards for manis and pedis to not just current but past teachers as well. While the vast majority of parents love the idea of honoring those who tirelessly and enthusiastically care for our kids, working through headaches and working out little people disputes, the actual execution of Teacher Appreciation Week can leave a non-crafty parent with limited funds a tad stressed. Here are six thoughtful ways to show appreciation when the budget is modest and the hot glue gun is still on the craft store shelf.

See Appreciation on page 9

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• January 23, 2014 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


Area Preschools
that children learn using all their senses and will offer a range of engaging activities to introduce and reinforce concepts. Spend some time talking with teachers and administrators to better understand their educational philosophy — these are people who will know your child well and work collaboratively with you through the early childhood years.” Christine Markovits, director of Community Nursery School in Westport, offered this advice: “I would tell parents to make sure that a school is both licensed by the Connecticut DPH (Department of Public Health) and NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited. Both are very important to ensure a high quality program for young children.” Reaching out to other parents is also a good idea. Ask your friends, your neighbors, your pediatrician, your older child's teacher — ask people you trust for recommendations for quality settings in your area. Be mindful to note the name of the setting and what struck this person as important to mention (low student-teacher ratio, close to home, child is excited to arrive, etc.). And, the best question to ask is, "What advice do you wish you had received before choosing your child's preschool?" Most parents will be happy to offer their insight and advice. It is also suggested that parents visit potential preschool’s websites before and/or after actual physical look-see’s for more information (see sidebar listing of schools). Good luck — this is the first of many educational decisions you will make for your child.
Once Upon a Child; 203-791-2393, onceuponachild.com

New Canaan
Toddlertime Nursery School;

Long Ridge School; 203-322-7693, longridgeschool.org

Westbrook Nature Preschool; 203-664-1554, westbrooknatureschool.org Noroton Presbyterian Nursery School; 203-655-3223, npns.org Pear Tree Point School; 203-655-0030, ptpschool.org

203-972-3111, toddlertimens.org New Canaan Community Nursery School; 203-966-3010, nccns.org New Canaan Nature Center Preschool; 203-966-9577, newcanaannature.org/programs/ preschool Camp Playland; 203-966-2937, playlandnurseryschool.com

Creative Development School Early Learning Childcare Center; 203-268-1106, creativedevelopmentkids.com Trumbull Loves Children; 203-452-9626, tlctrumbull.com

Kid’s Kastle Family Daycare; 203-838-1696 Apple Tree Preschool; 203-866-8933

St. Francis of Assisi Preschool; 203-454-8646, sfapreschool.com Norfield Children’s Center; 203-227-7047

Little Phoenix Pre-School & Daycare; 203-268-5073

A Child’s Garden; 203-259-1327, achildsgarden.net Pumpkin Preschool of Fairfield; 203-255-7505, pumpkinpreschool.com Small to Tall Preschool; 203-319-8276, smalltotallscholars.com Great Beginnings Montessori; 203-254-8208, greatmontessori.com

Landmark Preschool; 203-544-8393, landmarkpreschool.org Montessori School of Redding; 203-938-9346, montessorischoolofredding.com

Community Nursery School; 203-227-7941, communitynursery.com Pumpkin Preschool of Westport; 203-226-1277, pumpkinpreschool.com Temple Israel Early Chidhood Center; 203-227-1656, tiwestport.org Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School; 203-227-9318, westportwestoncoop.org

Ridgefield Montessori; 203-438-4506, ridgefieldmontessori.com Landmark Preschool; 203-894-1800, ext.112, landmarkpreschool.org Ridgefield Community Kindergarten (RCK); 203-438-3025, ridgefieldcommunitykindergarten.com

Christ Church Nursery School; 203-869-5334, ccnsgreenwich.org

Apple Blossom School; 203-493-4003, appleblossomschool.org Belden Hill Montessori; 203-762-8500, beldenhillmontessori.com

Little White House Learning Center; 203-951-3148, littlewhitehouselearningcenter.com New England School of Montessori; 203-878-9822, nesmontessori.com

Wonder Years Learning Center; 203-929-0708, wonderyearsct.com Pumpkin Preschool of Shelton; 203-926-1800, pumpkinpreschool.com

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Where Where learning learning is is personal, personal, meaningful, meaningful, and and visible. visible.

Should a student’s happiness be one measure of a school’s success?

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We think so. At Wooster, we understand that when you feel good about school, you learn better. Visit us and see for yourself.

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• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

Continued from page 4 ideas and complete instructions. For example, to build your own fog tornado or make your own rock candy, you can visit ScienceBob.com for step-by-step guides. Think fiction An exciting work of fiction can be inspiring. Expose your kids to entertaining movies and books that feature the application of science in action-packed scenarios. For example, the “Nick and Tesla” series, by Pflugfelder and writer and journalist Steven Hockensmith, follows the adventures of two 11-year-old siblings who use science and electronics to solve mysteries. Narratives are peppered with blueprints and instructions, so young budding inventors at home can follow along. Information about their latest book, “Nick

and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab”, as well as the other books in the series may be found at NickandTesla.com. Take a trip One thing that most museums have in common is signs that say “Do not touch.” But at a science museum, it’s all about interactive fun. Take the kids to learn more about their favorite subjects, from animals to outer space to volcanoes. Remember, science is all around us, so you don’t necessarily need to go somewhere special to get kids thinking about it. Turn a regular day of errands into one of scientific discovery. Encourage your kids to note their observations on paper and discuss what they’ve seen and what it means at the end of the day. Just because the school bell rings doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Take steps to make science a bigger and better part of your kids’ day. Story credit: StatePoint

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Continued from page 5 • Though small, the iPad mini has all of the features of a larger iPad but in a more kid-friendly size. Many parents prefer the iPad mini for their children because they have Apple products and

appreciate being able to share with their kids apps and information among all of the devices. Determining if a child is ready for a tablet is a difficult decision for parents, who must assess how well the child handles responsibility, toys and electronics in the home. Adults may opt for a more durable, less expensive tablet as an introduction to tablets for children and then gravitate toward more “adult” options as their children prove they can be responsible with the device.

Beginners | Nursery | K - Grade 5
Thursday, January 23, at 9:15 am | RSVP 203.322.7693

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478 Erskine Road, Stamford, CT



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• January 23, 2014 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


Continued from page 3 decide on a college major. Internships are rarely easy to get, but some firms hire interns who are still in high school. Parents should encourage kids to pursue internships as early as possible. Internships can provide young students with some real-world experience and give them an accurate glimpse into what their professional lives might be like if they choose a particular field of study. Some kids might be encouraged by an internship, while others might realize a given field is not really for them. Either way, the internship can help narrow down the field of prospective majors for young students. • Let kids know a major isn't the same thing as a career. The pressure to choose the right major can be overwhelming for some young students. But parents should let kids know that a major is not the same thing as a career, and many graduates end up working in fields that had little or nothing to do with their majors. For instance, just because a student earns a degree in finance does not mean he or she will end up working on Wall Street. While parents should emphasize the importance of choosing the right major when speaking to their children, they should also let kids know that nothing is ever set in stone. That can help take some of the pressure off students as they make such an important decision. Today's college students have more to consider when choosing a college major than many of their predecessors. But parents can still take steps to help kids choose the right major without succumbing to the stress that comes with making such a significant decision.


Continued from page 6 • Follow the room parents’ lead. There may well be a request to have everyone bring a particular small item each day of the week. In most cases the planning is done just a couple of weeks before, said Don Romoser, president of the Connecticut PTA. Try checking in with room parents a bit before that about items they may have in mind and then taking care of them early. • Skip the Google search and visit the Skip to My Lou website. Although it’s packed with ideas for the crafty sort, go directly to skiptomylou.org/2013/04/22/50-cute-sayingsfor-teacher-appreciation-gifts/ for 50 ways to make a small gift shine. For example, attach a “thanks for making our school year bright”

note to a package of highlighters, a “thanks for helping me grow” tag to a packet of flower seeds, or a “there’s no ‘sub’ stitute for you!” sentiment to a gift card for Subway or your neighborhood mom-and-pop sandwich shop. • Say “thanks a latte.” Gift cards are always appreciated and need not break the bank. Just choose a place where $5 can actually buy something, such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, the ice cream parlor down the street from school, or iTunes. • Just write a note. Darien teacher Bess McNamee recalls one parent who shared her third grade child’s response to a question about why she likes her teacher. The answer? “That I made learning fun.” And McNamee recently had a parent of a former student reach out to say “how much she appreciated all the time and effort I spent in helping her daughter through that school year,” she said. “Her daughter still talks about me.”

McNamee, who now teaches first grade (and writes thank-you notes to her son’s teachers at his Stratford school), added, “I keep every thank-you email, note and letter I receive in a folder. When I am feeling stressed about my job, I pull out the folder and read them to remind myself why I’m in this profession — for the kids.” • Get the kids to write or make something special. “From personal experience, you can give teachers all the gifts in the world, but when they get the handwritten note from the child, that’s the thing that gets their heart,” said Romoser. • Consider stepping up as a teacher appreciation volunteer. “Many times there’s a ‘This is how we did it last year, we just need to implement it’ sort of direction from PTA leaders”, said Romoser. And that can make planning an event to honor those educational heroes at your child’s school pretty darn simple.

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• 10 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

by Melissa Ezarik
A year ago, Seymour mom Jen Krzykowski began researching the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which aim to make clear and consistent what U.S. students are expected to learn in each grade. She wanted to ensure the goals and objectives on her then-third-grader’s Individualized Education Plan were on grade level. But when she got a copy of the standards, she found them far from “user friendly.” “You really need to have a teaching background, just naturally be good at a certain subject, or you need to do research like I did to understand,” she said. For example: “Represent a fraction 1/b on a number line diagram by defining the interval from 0 to 1 as the whole and partitioning it into b equals parts.” Then she found the I-Can Common Core Standards checklists during a Pinterest search, which “puts it in kid terms.” Back to that fraction example, she found the translation to be “I can label fractions on the number line because I know the spaces between any two numbers can be thought of as a whole.” “This makes my head hurt less,” quipped Krzykowski, who references the I-Can checklists often. The frenzy and confusion While she’s still learning more about Common Core, Krzykowski was early to the party. Nearly two-thirds of 1,001 adults surveyed in May 2013 said they had never heard of the new Common Core State Standards, according to the PDK International/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools survey, released in August. Of those who had heard of them, many thought incorrectly that states were being forced to adopt them, and that the standards cover every academic subject. Forty-five states (including Connecticut), the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the CCSS, which establish what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should learn in English language arts and mathematics. Whether it’s from parent chatter on the playground, the media frenzy to cover Common Core, or a principal’s presentation during a welcome event this fall, more parents are starting to both hear about the standards and look into their details. But with a Google search for “Common Core” uncovering 5.59 million results — and no shortage of those results for sites making arguments against Common Core — what’s an already-busy, yet wanna-be-informed parent to do? “Avoid looking at the actual standards” is one piece of advice from Don Romoser, president of the Connecticut PTA, which (along with the National PTA) is supportive of the standards. “As a parent, I do have the standards at home. But I started to look at them and my eyes glazed over,” he said, adding that they’re written in “edu-speak” that the average parent would have difficulty understanding. To help parents become knowledgeable about the standards, his organization and other state agencies hosted an event recently to cover what they’re all about and what the assess-

Common Core Resources
• The Curriculum Corner’s Common Core page (I-Can checklists); tiny.cc/curriculumcornercc • Connecticut PTA’s Common Core page; ctpta.org/Conferences/ Common-Core.html (includes parent guides to student success through Common Core and to standard-based assessment) • “Common Core Standards: Fact and Fiction” video; youtu.be/EXf91AGW2QA • The Heartland Institute: “Fight the Common Core;” heartland.org/common-core • Implementing the Common Core State Standards (official site); corestandards.org • National PTA’s Common Core State Standards Initiative page; tiny.cc/nationalptacc (includes a parent’s guide to student success and a parent webinar informational series) • Parent Teacher Community Forum event on Common Core (Jan. 25 in Cromwell); tiny.cc/commoncoreevent • Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Connecticut is a member); smarterbalanced.org • Truth in American Education’s Common Core page (anti-Common Core); truthinamericaneducation.com

ment process is going to look like. “The actual assessments are where people will notice the difference,” said Romoser, adding that the new Smarter Balanced assessments, based on Common Core, are being implemented at the same time. Clearly, not everybody is supportive of the CCSS. In the PDK/Gallup poll, only 41% of those surveyed thought the standards would make American schools more competitive globally. However, 73% of teachers of major subject areas in Common Core states are enthusiastic about the implementation of the standards, revealed a national Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation survey conducted in July 2013. Romoser’s organization will be reaching out to local affiliates and training them to be able to speak on the standards. The most important thing to note about Common Core, he said, is that “people shouldn’t be afraid of it. It is a little bit of a change on what is going to be expected of children to learn, and maybe a little bit about how they’re going to learn, but it’s just a set of standards. It’s a simple way to say, ‘Here’s what everybody should learn.’”

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It's only January, but in no time at all, thousands of graduates throughout Fairfield County will be marching down school auditorium aisles and the like to receive their diplomas. Tassels will be flipped and caps will be tossed in the air in celebration. After the ceremony, parties will ensue. If yours is a family who will be commemorating the accomplishments of a graduation by inviting friends and family to celebrate, you may want to begin party preparation early on and follow some tips for entertaining success. Start planning now Some of the planning that should take place early on includes: party venue reservation, setting up catering, determining a guest list and establishing a budget. Money-saving tips Cost is a big factor when it comes to social occasions. Saving money with respect to graduation parties can be as simple as joining resources.

Chances are you know several families who are having graduation parties at the same time as yours. Considering having a joint party with a few families so graduates can celebrate together. A joint party can also save you money. Each can be responsible for a certain aspect of the party experience, and cutting the costs two or three ways helps everyone meet their budgets. Keep it safe Serving alcohol at a high school graduation party is unadvisable, as many of the guests may be underage. In many instances, the party host is responsible for the well-being of party guests. Should guests leave intoxicated and get injured or cause an accident, you may be liable. Having a plan established and securing the supplies, food and venue for your party in advance will make the party much easier to pull off. That means you will be able to enjoy the festivities in full the actual day of the celebration.

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• January 23, 2014 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• 11 •

Parents want their kids to be as healthy as possible. Whether tailoring kids’ diets to include healthier foods or encouraging their youngsters to be physically active, parents often go the extra mile with regard to the health of their children. But as hard as parents may try, some health-related issues are difficult to avoid or prevent. For example, even the most conscientious parents might have little influence over their children’s vision. Many children have a form of myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, which progressively worsens as kids get older but eventually stabilizes when their eyes have stopped growing, typically in a young adult’s early 20s. Myopia is common and treatable, but parents should still educate themselves about it so they can better respond should they suspect their child is suffering from nearsightedness. What causes myopia? When a person has myopia, light entering the eye is focused incorrectly. Nearsighted people usually have an eyeball that is slightly longer than normal from front to back, and the light rays that make up the images a nearsighted person sees focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. The result is that objects that are far away appear blurry. Are there indicators that a child is nearsighted? Kids likely won’t tell their parents that they are struggling to see distant objects clearly, so it’s important for parents to look for indicators that a child might be struggling with myopia. Kids who are nearsighted might squint to see objects that are far away, including the television. One of the telltale indicators is how a child behaves in the classroom. Children who tell their teacher they need to move closer to the chalkboard should be taken to the eye doctor. Parents who suspect their child might be nearsighted can talk to their child’s teacher and ask if the teacher feels the child might be struggling with his or her vision. Such struggles can affect how a child performs in school. Children who get frequent headaches might also be suffering from nearsightedness.

Doctors recommend that kids have their eyes examined at 6 months, 3 years of age and prior to entering first grade. But even if kids have passed previous eye examinations at each of those benchmarks, it’s best to take them for another exam the moment a vision problem is suspected. Is myopia preventable? Since it is often inherited, myopia is not preventable. However, treatment can significantly minimize its effects. Children who appear to be struggling to see distant objects clearly should be taken for an eye exam. That exam may include an eye pressure measurement; a refraction test, which is used to determine a correct prescription for eyeglasses; a retinal examination; and a visual acuity test, which measures sharpness of vision at close and far distances. When a child is diagnosed as being nearsighted, the doctor will likely prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK surgery can correct vision, but many surgeons are reticent to recommend such surgery until a patient’s eye has fully developed, which does not occur until after childhood. Are there other symptoms of childhood vision problems? There are additional symptoms of childhood vision problems that might not indicate nearsightedness but might indicate another problem that should result in a trip to the eye doctor. For example, a child might close one eye when watching television or reading. This could be indicative that vision in one eye is poorer than in the other. Young children who struggle to color within the lines might have an issue with their hand-eye coordination. Poor hand-eye coordination could be the result of a vision impairment. Children who tilt their head to one side to improve vision might be suffering from a vision problem that makes it difficult for them to look directly down. Vision problems can negatively affect how a child performs in school as well as in social situations. Though such vision problems are not always preventable, parents who can identify them can greatly minimize their effects.

200 Katonah Avenue Katonah, NY 10536

(914) 232-2242
Peter D. Hoffman, Esq. Catherine Laney, Esq. Jamie Mattice, Esq.


Attorneys with Concentration in Special Education Law
Attorneys Licensed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut & the District of Columbia

We are a law firm that represents special needs children and their parents. All children with special needs have the right to a free and appropriate education. Unfortunately, receiving a free and appropriate education may be a struggle. At the LAW OFFICE OF PETER D. HOFFMAN, P.C. in Katonah, N.Y., we work with the laws concerning students, schools, and parents. We can help you navigate the labyrinth of special education law.
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Our firm has been successful in assisting families place their children in special education school district programs and therapeutic private school programs that can serve the needs of special education students, and provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), at the expense of the school district. Moreover, we can help you try to obtain attorneys fees when we have been successful in litigation. We have worked with families and children with a wide range of educational and emotional disorders.

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Please contact us to learn about your and your child’s rights.

Mr. Hoffman is licensed in NY, NJ and DC Ms. Mattice is licensed in NY and CT Ms. Laney is licensed in NY pdh2@pdhoffmanlaw.com jkm@pdhoffmanlaw.com cl@pdhoffmanlaw.com

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• 12 •

• Education • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• January 23, 2014 •

50 Years in Weston!

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* Excellent Preschool Classes- 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s! * Afterschool classes and activities until 6pm, and the bus brings your child right to us! * Extended Lunch Bunch opportunities for your child everyday.

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