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Stories Matter

by Lisa Schalk Stories are important to children regardless of how old they are – the children or the stories! With the very young, we need to look no further than our own laps to recognize the joy, connection, and educational benefits stories bestow. Young children love to enter into the world of a book to learn, laugh, explore, imagine, and make sense of the world. As children get older, their identities and the stories they seek out become more complex – helping them make sense of the world. As children become even older and more independent, they can seek out opportunities and experiences that will become their own life stories, guiding them deeply and authentically. Story writing is a powerful medium of expression for children of all ages, including very young children. Vivian Gussin Paley, a pioneering teacher and widely acclaimed author out of the University of Chicago, built her career on emphasizing the importance of storytelling in early childhood development. A keen observer – and listener – of young children, Ms. Paley wrote 13 books about the social and intellectual development of young children, including how they learn from telling stories, and received a MacArthur “genius” grant in recognition of her work. Her teaching approach involved asking children to describe an event, sometimes with only a few words, and then to dramatize it with their classmates. The combination of story writing and story acting teaches children language skills as well as compassion, fairness, and how to negotiate relationships. For older children family stories keep their traditions alive, tell their history, and help shape their identities. Shared family experiences turn into stories that become treasured artifacts to children as they make their way toward adulthood, telling and retelling their own versions to themselves and others. Adventures that older children create for themselves – through jobs, friendships, travel, school, and so on – become stories that go another step further to shape and define identity, often forming the basis for college essays, courses of study, and ultimately even college and career choices. In a nutshell, experiences have the potential to turn into meaningful stories. And meaningful stories have the potential to shape how we view the world and color our lives. Stories really do matter – know this and encourage your child to read them, write them, and be open to creating them through the life experiences they pursue!

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Enrich Everyday Activities

by Lisa Schalk As a parent or caregiver, finding ways to enrich your toddler’s everyday activities can be both fulfilling and fun. Here are some ideas to add a dash of enrichment to simple daily routines: Play with Puzzles. Help toddlers with simple puzzles featuring shapes, colors, or animals. Name each piece as they place it, and show them how to problem-solve by turning or flipping pieces to make them fit. Encourage Curiosity. Stimulate curiosity by exploring new things together. Visit the park, take a walk, or go on a bus ride to discover new sights and sounds. Have an Outdoor Picnic. Make outdoor time special with a picnic. Add a scavenger hunt for leaves, bugs, sticks, and rocks to make it even more engaging. Fun in the Kitchen. Let your child help with simple cooking tasks like making pancakes. They can measure, pour, stir, and count ingredients (e.g., “Can you give me 5 blueberries?”). Toothbrushing Together. Encourage your toddler to brush their own teeth after you’ve given them a thorough cleaning first. This helps build independence and good hygiene habits. Pillow Play. Create forts and nests on the floor using pillows. This can be a fun activity for both toddlers and their stuffed animals. Read, Read, Read. Read books, sing songs, and recite nursery rhymes repeatedly to nurture memory and language skills. Teach young learners how to turn the pages and let them do so as you read. Sensory Play. Engage in sensory play with materials like Kinetic Sand or homemade Play-Doh to strengthen small motor skills. Water Play. Fill a shallow basin with water and provide cups and spoons for hand-eye coordination and sensory exploration. Follow a Routine. Try to stick to a consistent routine. Young children thrive on regularity and knowing what to expect. Gross Motor Development. Encourage independence by letting toddlers navigate stairs on their own. Teach them to differentiate between standing flat and on tiptoes, and practice walking on tiptoes and backwards. Allow them to put on simple shoes independently and build extra time into your schedule to let them practice these skills. Outdoor Art. Get creative with outdoor art activities like chalk drawing, finger painting, and using natural materials. Two-Step Directions. Familiarize toddlers with two-step directions, such as “pick up the book and put it on the shelf.” Offer Choices. Whenever possible, offer toddlers two choices (e.g., “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?”), ensuring both options are appropriate. Music and Movement. Incorporate music and movement into your day. Sing, dance, and use scarves and ribbons to add a dramatic flair. Gardening. Teach your toddler to care for plants by gardening together, whether outdoors or on your windowsill or terrace. Relax and Enjoy. Most importantly, relax, have fun, and enjoy these magic years. Don’t rush through these precious moments with your toddler. By incorporating these activities into your daily routine, you can create enriching, enjoyable experiences that foster your toddler’s growth and development. For more information, tune into our video about Summer Enrichment Opportunities for Toddlers!

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Writing Compelling Parent Essays

by Lisa Schalk Join me as I rewind the clock to a time when my young adult children were in their teens and complaints were abundant. Teachers were unfair. Friends were mean. Homework was impossible. We parents understood nothing. (Which reminds me of a Mark Twain quote: “My father was an amazing man. The older I got, the smarter he got.”) I thought it was my job to listen calmly and then offer sage advice. It didn’t work. They didn’t listen. And then I read about a new approach to parenting. In a nutshell, the advice was to listen to your child talk about their dilemma/complaint/unhappiness/frustration calmly and – before offering any kind of unsolicited guidance or advice – ask, “Are you interested in my opinion?” I tried it. They were so surprised you could have knocked them over with a feather. Immediate responses ranged from, “Oh!, um, I don’t know. Let me think” to either a “No thanks,” or a “Yeah,” – followed by a sincere “Thanks for asking!” At which point you could have knocked me over with a feather. Their gratitude at having been asked before being avalanched with unasked-for ideas and/or help was undeniable, and it actually ushered us into a new level of understanding one another. Like we adults, sometimes our kids need advice, and sometimes they just want to vent. In sharing their problems with us, they deserve to be asked their preference. Allowing them advice-free space to vent is a gift. It says to them, “You’re entitled to your feelings, I get it.” Implicit in our agreement not to offer unsolicited advice or help (NUAH is the acronym my husband coined) is a vote of confidence that they will either figure things out on their own – or come to us another time for advice. And even when their answer is “yes,” they are grateful for having been asked first. Again, it’s all about respect. Family relationships, especially during the teen years, are strong and fragile at the same time. By treating kids with the respect they deserve and so deeply crave as they carve out their identities, we shore up the fragility with strong and true bonds. And when we parents ask for help in matters that exceed our expertise, we model to our children that we don’t know it all any more than they do! If your child needs help with academic- or school-related issues you can always call on Smart City Kids. Our advisors are experts at working closely with families to find best-fit schools to meet the needs of all involved. And our gifted tutors support students in matters ranging from test-prep to academics to executive functioning.

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“Are You Interested in My Opinion?”

by Lisa Schalk Join me as I rewind the clock to a time when my young adult children were in their teens and complaints were abundant. Teachers were unfair. Friends were mean. Homework was impossible. We parents understood nothing. (Which reminds me of a Mark Twain quote: “My father was an amazing man. The older I got, the smarter he got.”) I thought it was my job to listen calmly and then offer sage advice. It didn’t work. They didn’t listen. And then I read about a new approach to parenting. In a nutshell, the advice was to listen to your child talk about their dilemma/complaint/unhappiness/frustration calmly and – before offering any kind of unsolicited guidance or advice – ask, “Are you interested in my opinion?” I tried it. They were so surprised you could have knocked them over with a feather. Immediate responses ranged from, “Oh!, um, I don’t know. Let me think” to either a “No thanks,” or a “Yeah,” – followed by a sincere “Thanks for asking!” At which point you could have knocked me over with a feather. Their gratitude at having been asked before being avalanched with unasked-for ideas and/or help was undeniable, and it actually ushered us into a new level of understanding one another. Like we adults, sometimes our kids need advice, and sometimes they just want to vent. In sharing their problems with us, they deserve to be asked their preference. Allowing them advice-free space to vent is a gift. It says to them, “You’re entitled to your feelings, I get it.” Implicit in our agreement not to offer unsolicited advice or help (NUAH is the acronym my husband coined) is a vote of confidence that they will either figure things out on their own – or come to us another time for advice. And even when their answer is “yes,” they are grateful for having been asked first. Again, it’s all about respect. Family relationships, especially during the teen years, are strong and fragile at the same time. By treating kids with the respect they deserve and so deeply crave as they carve out their identities, we shore up the fragility with strong and true bonds. And when we parents ask for help in matters that exceed our expertise, we model to our children that we don’t know it all any more than they do! If your child needs help with academic- or school-related issues you can always call on Smart City Kids. Our advisors are experts at working closely with families to find best-fit schools to meet the needs of all involved. And our gifted tutors support students in matters ranging from test-prep to academics to executive functioning.

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Don’t Forget to Hug Your Kids

by Lisa Schalk I love living on an island. I love riding my bike to work up First Avenue catching glimpses, block by block, of the morning sunlight dancing on the stage of the East River. The ferry boats, barges, and tugs gliding along the river make me think of Manhattan’s many ports and the historical river commerce that came to define it as a vibrant, eclectic, and ever-changing magnet for culture. The influx of new ideas, art, goods, music, and people from around the world that has been at play for generations is what has made New York the incredible sounding board it is. Sometimes we who live here forget or take for granted all that we can envelop in a wide embrace of our city. Enmeshed in the daily details and responsibilities of our lives, let’s not forget to look up and revel in our surroundings! When you model curiosity, love of adventure, and the joy of learning to your children by exploring the city’s gems, you set the stage for them to become life-long learners. When you expose them to the shimmering mosaic of diversity through cuisine, art, music, and theater you lay the groundwork for social and emotional growth, empathy, and critical thinking. So open your arms and hug New York this spring. Soak up its museums, restaurants, parks, tours, and theaters with your young learners in tow. No matter the ages of your children, there’s truly something for everyone. Join your toddler in the wonder of discovery when you visit the Bronx Zoo or any of the city’s botanical gardens or arboretums. Grow your middle-schooler’s inner life by taking in Theater on or off Broadway, Dance at Lincoln Center, or Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Treat your teens to a family activity of their choice and learn alongside them in a common, memory-building experience. New York is here for the taking and for the good of all who partake!

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What is Pedagogy?

Pedagogy = the method and practices of a teacher. It’s about the ways in which he or she delivers curriculum and thereby promotes knowledge. It’s about teaching style, theories that inform their philosophies, how they give feedback, and how they assess their students. Although its appearance depends on the age of children and classroom study, the meaning of pedagogy remains constant from pre-K throughout college. The following are different pedagogical approaches that you might hear about in various school tours you attend. CONSTRUCTIVISM Also described as a progressive teaching style (as opposed to a traditional style), it focuses on the idea that children are active rather than passive learners. Based on research and ideas of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) who studied child development, the operative idea here is that children learn through experiences and reflection. The child is at the center of the learning and project work, play, exploration, and inquiry-based learning are at the heart of the approach. Teachers create activities that facilitate learning and enhance progression. Older children manage more abstract ideas, sometimes through student-led lessons less focused on the teacher, whereas younger learn through play and interaction with the world. SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM Social constructivism was developed by the Belarusian cognitive psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who also studied child development, and builds on the work of Jean Piaget. While Vygotsky also placed the child at the center of learning, he believed learning is a collaborative process and he focused on the idea of children and teachers working together to achieve the best outcome. He believed learning can only happen in a social context and placed more emphasis on the role of the teacher as guide. In a constructivist pedagogy, teachers use group work in the classroom and limit groups to smaller sizes. Teachers then use teacher modelling, questioning, and class instruction to engage students in various activities. BEHAVIORISM Also known as a traditional teaching approach, here the teacher is at the center of all learning practices including direct instruction and lecture-based lessons. The theory of Behaviorism is derived from pedagogical research by Thorndike (1911), Pavlov (1927) and Skinner (1957). In education, it places the teacher as the sole authority figure who leads the lessons. Typically, subjects are taught as independent topics, with very little cross pollination or intersection between subjects. This contrasts with topic- or project-based learning which provides students opportunities to explore intersecting subject matter in more depth and make connections between different areas of learning. Practices include lecturing, modelling, and demonstration, and choral repetition. Occasional shifts of power include giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their own learning to the rest of the class.

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How to Help Your Child Build Healthy Habits

HABITS BEGIN AS ROUTINES. As parents, part of our job is to help our children develop healthy habits. Often easier said than done – but definitely easier done sooner than later. So how do we do this? We teach our very young children, for example, the importance of brushing our teeth – every night before bed and every morning after breakfast. It’s the repetition, night after night, morning after morning, that turns this teeth-brushing routine into a habit. By the time most kids hit middle school brushing their teeth has become second nature. It takes time and repetition to hone skills. A 2021 study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that people need an average of 59 day to successfully for a new habit in nutrition. Other studies point to durations ranging from 18 to 254 days. So it takes time and focus for us as individuals to develop a habit even when we decide to do it for ourselves, let alone our children who haven’t asked for the help that we know is to nurture something that’s “for their own good.” Like homework. Here are some tips to help: Set a regular schedule for study time that works for both you and your child, knowing that at least initially your help might be needed. Begin with a short time and ramp up accordingly. Routines are powerful because they let kids know what to expect. Create a designated study space that is quiet and free from distractions. Invite suggestions from your child in terms of comfort and preference. For example, does soft background music help or hinder? Will a timer help your child dedicate a concrete amount of time to homework or manage transitions from one assignment to the next? Encourage organization by using a planner or calendar, taking notes, and keeping their study materials in order. Help them see homework is a pursuit, not a chore. Relate assignments to real life. If your child is studying nutrition on the body, ask for tips to plan dinner, and give credit where credit is due. If your child hates algebra, find real-life applications your child will be interested in, such as strategizing chess or calculating the trajectory of a basketball. And when homework becomes part of the routine, it seems less like an extra chore. Use a when-then routine. Things run more smoothly when homework becomes a part of the daily schedule. Structuring the routine into a “when-then” formal allows work to be finished before distractions come back into the picture and your child pursues other activities. “When you’ve finished you work, then you can play.” This is also a way to reinforce the notion that not everything is about immediate gratification. It feels good to do well in school. Homework helps. You need to put in the time. You’ll be glad you did in the end. INVEST NOW, REAP THE BENEFITS LATER. Remember that time well spent on helping your child turn routine into habit at a young age is time in the bank for you later as they become more self-directed OUT OF HABIT. Although roadblocks await – your child’s social life explodes, family pets get sick, colds impinge – routines enforced early pave a smoother road for successful habits.   And, remember, there are so many ways that you as a family can embrace learning and model its inherent excitement to your children. Take field trips and explore the world. Visit museums and learn together. Explore behind-the-scenes of industries you’re interested in … the manufacturing of anything, how mass agriculture works versus small farming, hospitals and the practice of medicine, the US Post Office and Amazon deliveries, laboratories, observatories, how machines are assembled and fixed. The list is limited only by your imagination.

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Mattering Matters

Jennifer Breheny Wallace’s Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic – and What We Can Do About It, is jam-packed with data, analysis, and advice around today’s culture of overachievement, what it’s doing to our kids, and what we adults can do to combat the hits our kids are taking on a regular basis. I found myself highlighting relevant sections on nearly every page as Wallace lays out her claim that today’s kids feel pressured, unseen, and judged exclusively by their accomplishments rather than valued as the unique beings they are. Kids are driving themselves into the ground as they try to distinguish themselves as the best – through academics, sports, or other extracurriculars. At worst, kids are left feeling empty and unworthy – at best, they get so caught up in the chase they stop engaging in vital social and emotional relationships and experiences that will lay the foundation for future happiness and security. Some facts: A 2019 national report published by some of America’s top developmental scientists identified a new “at-risk” group of kids – students attending competitive public or private schools with high standardized test scores who were negatively impacted by an excessive pressure to achieve. In 2021 U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a rare public health advisory on the topic, noting that the mental health of younger people is shaped by factors from genes to social forces including media messages and popular culture and that living with toxic stress is harming a large portion of our youth – and it’s time for adults to step up and do something about it.” From 2020 – 2023 Wallace conducted a nation-wide parenting survey on achievement pressure and travelled from coast to coast speaking in depth to parents and students who were trying their best to navigate the complex world of achievement. She also looked for kids who were thriving despite all the pressures of our modern achievement culture, searching for what buffers, mindsets, behaviors, family values, school experiences they had in common. Her takeaway: Kids are absorbing the idea that their worth is contingent on their performance – their GPA, the number of social media followers they have, their college brands – not for who they are deep at their core. They feel they “matter” if they are successful. She defines “mattering” as the feeling that we are valued and add value to others. Mattering is key to positive mental health and to thriving in adolescence and beyond. How we as adults see our kids and communicate to them about their worth, potential, and value to society is critical to their sense of self. Students who feel a high level of mattering set the healthy high achievers apart. Wallace offers practical advice to parents and educators as to how they can course correct to counter the increasing anxiety, depression, and isolation young people are experiencing and promote behaviors that will protect young learners and launch them into adulthood better equipped to handle life and thrive independently. Taking action at home includes explicitly telling our kids how much they matter to us and reminding them that their worth does not equal their grades/their trophy/their placing. Embedding unconditional love for children into out parenting styles and adopting what Wallace called “the puppy dog principle,” by showing kids they matter through micro-practices, is a powerful tool to shift the tide away from an over-dependence on achievement and toward mental health and balance. Lightening up and greeting our kids at least once a day “like a puppy” with total, unabashed joy majorly changes our relationship with our kids and their feelings about their self-worth. Before you discount this as touchy/feely advice that will stand up like a wet noodle in the face of reality, rest assured that Wallace is a practical realist and fellow parent who wants her children to succeed. But just what “success” means is at the heart of the matter. She advises parents to conduct a “values” inventory to broaden conversations around success and what it looks like to you and your child. She talks about how we can work with kids to reframe the concept of competition away from seeing it as a zero-sum rivalry (your win is my loss) into a healthy constructive experience. She delves into ways we can emphasize the power of relationships and true collaboration to our children, introducing to them the idea of “worthy rivals” from whom they can learn. She offers practical suggestions to help children build deeper connections with family and friends, to build capacity for setbacks and failure, and to recognize the impact their choices and actions have in their lives and the ripple effect of their actions and mindsets. I found this enlightening book hard to put down for a number of reasons, one of them being the sensitivity, compassion and hope inherent in every page. Wallace does not condemn well-meaning parents who push their children in ways they think will benefit them. Instead she empathizes with all who are raising children in a world that seems to become more competitive by the moment. She stresses the importance of self-care for parents, so that we can better see and know our children, become more sensitive to their needs, and partner with them for solutions. She offers myriad anecdotes and insights to help parents reflect on family values and their own ideas around success. In the midst of the swirl of anxiety many parents and children feel governs them Wallace locates “the calm” and identifies a simple truth. In examining the beauty of family, the reasons we have children, and the strength and importance of our hopes and dreams in today’s world she is steadfast in her belief that mattering is what matters most of all.

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WHAT IS POSITIVE RISK TAKING?

Lisa Schalk, Smart City Kids educational specialist, seasoned parent, and veteran teacher, demystifies “positive risk taking” as it applies to education, and discusses why it is such and important behavior to cultivate in your child. In short, positive risk taking has everything to do with your child’s education. What educators know, and this is from a nursery school through college and beyond perspective, is that students who are willing to be wrong – or, to risk not being right – are the students who truly learn, experience fulfillment, and feel compelled to learn more. They grow into adults who succeed – and often wildly excel – in their chosen fields. The willingness to be wrong is called positive risk taking. Unfortunately, seemingly innocent praise from parents can sometimes impede a child’s positive risk-taking ability. As a mom of young children, I joined in the popular chorus of “Good job!” and “You’re the best!” and “You’re so smart!” as my wee ones slid down slides, hugged a friend, or plopped in the last wooden puzzle piece. While I thought I was encouraging my kids with my positive feedback, what I was doing in part was giving them a boost into Great Hamster Wheel of Chasing Praise. When parents overpraise a child, in a sense they hijack their child’s intrinsic sense of satisfaction – and set their kids on an endless quest for more and more praise. Addiction to praise from an early age is not only real, but also dangerous. It inhibits children from moving toward deeper academic learning and toward learning for learning’s sake – for intrinsic satisfaction. American author and lecturer Alfie Kohn frequently writes about parenting and education. In his article, Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!” he examines the negative effects of overpraising children. One effect is that it leaves children feeling less brave to venture a guess or to stretch their minds and imagine, for fear of being “wrong” and risk losing the praise that’s been heaped upon them. “When praise is used lavishly and continuously, children are afraid to take risks for fear of falling off the pedestal or being discovered to be an imposter,” Kohn warns. If this is the foundation we lay, imagine the bricks that follow. As children grow and things like self-consciousness and peer approval or pressure are added to the equation, the fear of being judged and losing the “Good job!” or “You’re so smart!” accolades can become paralyzing. The potential for positive risk-taking becomes significantly jeopardized. So, how can we continue to dote on our little loved ones without over-praising? A small language shift makes a huge difference. Simple, evaluation-free statements (“You slid down the slide yourself!” or even just “You did it!”) tells your child that you noticed their accomplishments. Children are more motivated and invested in doing and learning when we allow them to own their accomplishments. Simply noticing lets them take pride in what they did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: “This mountain is huge!” “You sure used a lot of purple today!” These responses might sound robotic, tedious, unimportant, or downright ridiculous … but fast forward 15 years into my classrooms full of young students and you begin to understand. “Do you like my painting?” “Did I do a good job” “I don’t know … I can’t guess … I don’t know how.” Some children as young as three years old are reluctant or unable to abandon their praise-seeking habits and jump into learning. They are hesitant to hypothesize, guess, or even wonder aloud. And this is not what we want! When children feel settled and competent – and aren’t chasing praise – they are comfortable taking in trying new things, asking questions, taking guesses, and making mistakes. Positive risk-taking builds confidence and helps a child develop new skills. It teaches responsibility, demonstrates there are consequences if decisions are wrong, and promotes learning from making mistakes. It manages emotional constraints, enables children to learn from missed opportunities, engenders satisfaction in succeeding – and the list goes on. And this is why good schools and good teachers actively promote positive risk taking in their classrooms.   Kohn suggests that children are more responsive to adults who either describe what they see, in non-praise terms, or talk less and ask more – and they become more apt to take positive risks. So the next time you’re tempted to say, “Great Job!” try this instead: Focus on the process and not the result. To acknowledge a job well done say what you see without “giving it a grade.” Ask more and talk less. Model the liberation of making and owning your own mistakes. Highlight discoveries made from making mistakes in a “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” frame of mind. And most importantly, remember to support your children and love them up for who they are!

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What K-12 Schools Look For

In the words of veteran Smart City Kids Consultant Adriana Payne, “Every school is looking for a bright enthusiastic learner who will complement the cohort.” And it’s really kind of that simple – except that it isn’t, because as in all facets of life, nuances prevail.   December is the time of year when you as a parent might begin worrying about the vast number of applicants you’ve seen vying for a finite number of spots in any given school. And part of your worry might be stemming from your question about what schools actually want in terms of students and families they accept.   As Adriana explains, “There is no one answer. Each school has its own unique set of criteria for identifying students who are on the path to success and who will excel in their school culture.  While some schools might prioritize a ‘well-rounded’ student, others may seek students with specialized learning profiles. That said, all schools are looking for kind and empathetic students who demonstrate a genuine desire to learn. And your family values are as important as the specific strengths of your student applicant.”  Smart City Kids Founder Roxana Reid goes a little more division specific. “Schools shift their gaze at every stage of child development – there is no one-size-fits-all thing all schools look for at all divisions.  Schools look for students and families whose vision aligns with their own. They look for students who can be successful in their communities – and success is defined differently at different levels. Success in Lower School is met by young learners who can move fluidly through the program engaging in collaboration, navigation of the classroom environment, self-regulation, and the sharing of ideas. When students reach Middle and High School, schools seek students who will balance their needs in a variety of capacities. Perhaps they are looking for students to enhance or bolster programs in athletics – or music, or the arts, or STEM. In the end, it all boils down to fit. The right school should feel seamless to you. You should not feel like it’s going against the grain of who you are. It should feel right. If it feels like you’re fighting against it, it’s not right. Trust your instinct, trust your gut.”       As you make your way down the path to right-fit schools for your child here are some to keep in mind regardless of your child’s age: Schools are as interested in making the right match as you are.  Be honest in your search and don’t waste your time or anyone else’s by applying to schools that you know in your heart of hearts won’t serve your child or your family well.  Know your learner. Consider your child’s learning profile and look for schools that offer the kind of curriculum, culture, and community you feel would best support him or her.  Consider your family values and ask yourself if they are reflected in the ethos of each school you are seeking.   Don’t overprioritize the experience of others. It’s your child who will attend school. And your family who will join its community. Remember the “why’s” that brought you to a school. Why are you here? What appeals to you about its culture, curriculum, and community?  Schools are looking for partners, not critics. Be positive in all of your interactions.  Through every interaction, convey the respect you have for education and educators.      In the intricate journey of finding the right-fit school for your child, the search goes beyond a mere checklist. As you navigate this process, it’s crucial to remember that schools are not just evaluating your child; they are seeking a harmonious partnership with families. Transparency, self-awareness about your child’s learning profile, alignment with family values, and a genuine connection with the school’s ethos are pivotal. Your journey should be guided by authenticity, trust in your instincts, and a positive approach. In this pursuit, remember that schools are not just selecting students; they are forming partnerships with families who share a common vision for education. May your exploration be filled with genuine connections and a shared commitment to education!

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