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A S P E C I A L S E C T I O N O F T H E S C A R S DA L E I N Q U I R E R - J A N UA RY 1 3 , 2 0 1 7

FINDING THE BEST COLLEGE MATCH

When matchmaking makes the grade: which college environment is ‘right’ for you?

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By TRACI DUTTON LUDWIG

Technology for students is key to the future By MAJA TARATETA

erything in the school environment is going the way of technology,” said Rob Kissner, president of The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, which offers STEM and computer programming classes to children and adults. “It’s really important to get into good habits,” when it comes to students using technology, advised Jonathan Hill, dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University in Pleasantville. “It can be a creative and learning tool or it can be a binge-watching consumption tool. To be a successful learner, you have to know how to use it with some level of discipline.” When it comes to talking about students and technology, many experts, including Kissner, begin the conversation with one word: Google. Google has a free suite of productivity tools — including Classroom, Gmail, Drive and Docs — that more and more schools in Westchester are utilizing, he said. He noted

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hen grandparents — and even, gulp, parents — turn to 12-year-olds to recover lost computer login passwords, amend smartphone settings and set up photosharing accounts, you know that today’s students, whatever their ages, are more technologically savvy than ever. While schools assign more work that requires the ability to effectively use and master software, apps and other gadgets, and while even textbooks, testing and learning go digital, the question remains: Amid the cacophony of available technology, what software, apps and gadgets are the most important for today’s students to know how to use? Experts say the answer lies in technology that promotes time management and organization ability and teaches coding. The future, it seems, can’t be denied. “Ev-

t’s one of the most transitional times in students’ and parents’ lives. The shift from high school to college ushers in an important rite of passage, which, for many, is the first major taste of independent life. Just like real life, the admissions process is full of all the excitement and stress that comes from new challenges and uncertainties. First, it’s the application deadlines. Then, it’s the agonizing wait for acceptance decisions. Finally, it’s the student’s choice about which offer to accept, a process that is not always as clear as one might think. With so much pressure about getting into the “best” school, students often forget the subjectivity of the prize. They can easily lose sight of the fact that college selection is a very personal process. Furthermore, selecting the “right” school — emphasis on “right” for one’s individual strengths, interests and personality — is much more important than snagging a “yes” from “that” university with the impressive reputation. Matching a student with a truly right school supports the richest college experiences and the greatest student success. According to Michael P. Kiers, a college counselor with 14 years’ experience at Iona Prep, “College environment is not something students looking at schools really think about. They believe the name is the biggest factor in the selection process. Every student in Westchester knows the 20 schools into which people want to get admitted, but with over 3,000 four-year schools out there, students need to search for their match. By match, I believe the school should fit with the student academically, socially and financially. Having all three of these will allow the student to succeed … A good match supports success because the student will feel more comfortable when attending the school. He or she will have more confidence in the classroom, feel socially accepted, and not be indebted for life due to a large loan bill after graduation.” With nearly 5,000 institutions of higher education in the United States, and approximately 26,000 worldwide, there is truly a perfect match for everyone. Good advice emphasizes the importance of students engaging in opportunities and applying themselves

Continued on page 4A Continued on page 6A

Recommended education reading list… for parents By MARY LEGRAND

INSIDE 2A Education News & Notes 3A Your child’s 1st teacher: you! 4A G  etting a handle on college applications 5A Eliminating your child’s stress 7A Learning values through youth sports 7A C  apture your teen’s authentic self with senior portraits 7A Latest advancements in college happening digitally 8A Summertime offers unique education opportunities

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arents have an abundance of important roles in the lives of their children, including clothing and feeding them, of course. But being a force behind the success of their education is one of those roles as well, and many parents take a proactive approach in that regard, educating themselves on aspects of their children’s learning options. Luckily, there is a wide range of books available on the topic and the list could go on for miles. A number of books that are mentioned in a variety of online sources, including the Dec. 11, 2016 issue of The New York Times, might be of interest to parents committed to furthering the education of their children. Quite a few of these books appear in lists from other sources as well, and they’re mentioned here in alphabetical order based on author’s name. Jo Boaler’s “Mathematical Instincts” is described in The Times as offering “cre-

ative approaches to nurturing students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and which replace fear and avoidance with wonder, joy and discovery.” In “Grit,” author Angela Duckworth, a psychologist, “says passion and perseverance are the keys to success,” according to The Times, while Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” “discusses how we make choices in business and personal lives and when we can and cannot trust our intuitions.”

Stephen King’s “On Writing” is listed by The Times as a “memoir that is a master class on the writer’s craft.” Parents of older children and adults are fully aware of the ups and downs of their children’s lives, and “The Gift of Failure” by Jessica Lahey may ring a bell as a result. The Times describes the book as showing “the value of disappointment, frustration and life’s inevitable hurdles that provide opportunities for resilience, resourcefulness and self-reliance.”

J u d y Lythcott-Halms’ “How to Raise an Adult” offers advice on how parents can “foster healthy self-reliance instead of hollow self-esteem” in their children, according to The Times. Randall Munroe’s “Thing Explainer” shows how “cells, elevators, smartphones, nuclear reactors and more are demystified with simply annotated blueprints,” according to The Times. “Weapons of Mass Destruction” by

Cathy O’Neil describes “how decisions that impact our lives are made by algorithms instead of people,” according to The Times, and Nate Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise” is described as an “interdisciplinary guide to the art and science of prediction models — applied statistics and pattern detection — explaining how big data is used to make predictions ranging from likely flu outbreaks to earthquakes, climate change, winning poker hands, chess moves, baseball teams and presidential races.” The final offering in the Dec. 11 list in The New York Times is a cross-market best-seller as well, and arguably the most well-known among them. “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzal with Christine Lamb “relates the experience of the young Pakistani advocate for women’s education who was shot by the Taliban and later won the Nobel Peace Prize.” As 2016 wound down and the calendar page turned into the new year, the most popular education books, as listed Continued on page 5A


PAGE 2A/THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER

EDUCATION

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

Kulanu enters 2nd year at SSTTE

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The Religious School at Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El (SSTTE) is in its second year of its Kulanu (All of Us) special education program. The Kulanu initiative serves students in grades 4-6 who benefit from small class sizes and accommodates a range of learning and social challenges such as language-based learning disabilities and ADHD. Since its launch last year, the Kulanu program has been accommodating the needs of a steadily growing number of students with a range of learning challenges. Because of the program’s highly inclusive and experiential design, all children look forward to participating in the weekly class, including the general education students. “Avery has thrived in Kulanu program at Scarsdale Synagogue,” one parent said. “Her knowledge of Hebrew has improved tremendously as has her excitement about attending Hebrew School. She has gained much more self-confidence as well. As a parent I am happy to see this program in place to accommodate children with learning-based language difficulties.” Added Maya Blank, a consulting special education teacher, “It has been a joy to witness the Kulanu students flourish and become increasingly confident in their learning and their community par-

ticipation. It is also extremely gratifying to know that the needs of the students are being carefully assessed and addressed by a wonderful education team dedicated to the success of all students.” Program highlights

The program meets community needs and also benefits from Blank’s work. Educators, families and administrators collaborate to identify students’ goals, strengths and needs, making curricular and placement decisions to help ensure the successful social and academic integration of the students. Kulanu students receive a weekly combination of 30-45 minutes of intensive instruction in a small-group, supportive and inclusive environment, featuring a low student-to-teacher ratio, a certified special education head-teacher and highly structured and experiential curriculum. These elements support students as they join in learning with their grade-level peers for the remainder of the religious school period. The program’s curriculum dovetails with the general education curriculum design, providing students with stronger tools for full participation in the gradewide learning and synagogue community. Lessons incorporate student interests

and strengths using visual aids and individualized Hebrew instruction through games, songs, creative arts activities, peertutoring and differentiated tutoring instruction. There is also hands-on practice of Jewish rituals and customs, with movement, song and the like, thereby creating highly motivating learning experiences and enhanced social skills and independence employing multiple means of engagement. The carefully designed learning environment and activities have been shown to help the students stay on task and motivated to participate throughout the session. Through games, songs and creative arts activities, students with learning disabilities are enjoying reading and writing in Hebrew, encountering their tradition and teachings and interacting joyfully with their peers. Kulanu students meet on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more visit sstte. org/special-needs.html. Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El is a Reform Jewish congregation committed to creating a covenant community of shared lives and real relationships. SSTTE is an inclusive, caring and visionary community.

Blue Sky Eschool offers Chinese language learning As China’s population and economy grow, fluency in Mandarin Chinese becomes an incredibly useful skill. More and more students are starting to take Chinese as a foreign language at or outside of school. Since Chinese does not have roots in the Romance languages like English and has very special characteristics (for example, written Chinese is completely different from spoken Chinese), learning Chinese is not as natural for English speakers as learning some other foreign languages such as French or Spanish. Thus frequent exposure to the language and practice play an even more important role in learning Chinese than other Romance languages. Nowadays most students are very busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities outside of school. How can they add learning Chinese to their workload when it requires more time commitment? Blue Sky Eschool provides the solution by creating online programs for learning Chinese and practicing it. It is online, but with live teachers, unlike other self-study programs that use recorded videos. This eliminates the need for parents to drive their children to class, removing commuting time from both parents’ and kids’ busy schedules. The students take lessons online using a software that special-

izes in web conference and education. Students communicate with classmates and the teacher instantly via webcams. They can also choose a frequency for lessons based on their own schedule. Blue Sky Eschool has programs offering classes once a week, or twice a week, or even three times a week if the student’s schedule allows. To guarantee the teaching quality, even small group lessons at Blue Sky Eschool are capped at a maximum of five students per class, so each student will get individual attention and practice time during class. With this small group setting, the class time is more flexible and accommodating of each student’s individual schedules too. Unlike some video language learning softwares and websites, which require the student to be very self-disciplined and motivated, Blue Sky Eschool’s programs provide a classroom setting with the best of both worlds: group lessons that give student peer interaction and encouragement so that they do not feel as if they are learning alone. Even classmates talking during the class is still an exercise of the language for the student and individual practice and one-on-one attention from the teacher assured by the small number of students per class. For a minor extra fee ($75 per semester),

parents can upgrade the small group lesson into a semi-private lesson (max of three students per class). Blue Sky Eschool also offers private lessons for students with very packed schedules. Blue Sky Eschool can open a new group class for anyone who can find three students or a new semi-private class with two students. Another benefit of Blue Sky Eschool’s online learning is the low cost. Using the advanced Internet technology, Blue Sky Eschool is able to bring good teachers from China at a very competitive rate: smallgroup lessons are only $325 per semester (16 weeks of classes twice a week, with 1.25 hours per class). Blue Sky Eschool was founded in 2011 and has developed curriculum accommodating different needs for different groups of students. For non-Chinese speaking students (Chinese as second language, or CSL) at elementary school, it uses My First Chinese Reader as the main textbook. For more advanced students or middle and high school students, the Integrated Chinese textbook is used. Blue Sky Eschol’s private lessons provide individualized curriculum to assist students in learning Chinese at school using the textbook assigned by their school. Visit blueskyeschool.com

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(NAPSA)—If you or someone you care about is among the more than 36.5 million Americans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates will be hospitalized this year, there are a few facts and figures you should know. According to Dr. Betty Nelson, academic dean for the school of nursing at the College of Health Professions at University of Phoenix, “One of the challenges facing the health care system is that there are increasingly complex health care needs that require health care professionals to adapt quickly.” More health care professionals are needed to keep up everyone’s access to quality care. One of the best examples of this shortage is found in the nursing workforce. Nurses are the cornerstone of the health service provided in this country and the numbers are becoming increasingly alarming. In fact, between 2014 and 2024 the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be more than a million vacancies in that sector. The problem is compounded by current generational trends. As baby boomers get older and people tend to

live longer, not only is America going to need a larger health care workforce, it’s going to need one that’s specifically skilled to handle an aging population’s unique needs. An increase in people at risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and many other issues that develop at higher rates among the elderly can be expected. Physicians’ burnout presents another wrinkle. However, one of the suggested approaches to addressing the shortage is to increase the number of nurses who are educated to test, diagnose and prescribe. It also means that, going forward, higher education will have to adjust its teachings so all health care professionals are prepared to enter the workforce with these responsibilities. All this can mean additional challenges for a health care system that Americans are already worried about. A recent survey by Morning Consult found that almost 4 of 5 respondents are concerned about the quality of their health care and over two-thirds are concerned about medical errors. An answer

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Dr. Nelson, “We need to have a large, well-educated workforce of skilled professionals, and we need to educate them now.” Higher education, she adds, must adjust to provide the next generation of health care workers with the skills necessary to improve the quality of today’s health care, as well as improve the effectiveness of the health care system. For many aspiring health care providers, that’s where University of Phoenix comes in. Its bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees and certificate nursing programs are dedicated to helping licensed nurses get the advanced credentials and skills they need to stay current and thrive. Learn more

For further facts about the issue and the university, visit phoenix. edu. For general information about University of Phoenix programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, visit phoenix.edu/programs/gainfulemployment.

Education and play at the JCC for grades K-8 The preschool years are the time when children are open to the world and to learning the basics of language, physical skills and social interactions. At the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, the trained, caring staff helps children achieve healthy physical, social and cognitive growth; encourage self-awareness, understanding and confidence; and help youngsters develop a sense of security with adults and peers in a safe, nurturing environment. JCC students enjoy swimming in the indoor heated pool, working off energy in a full-sized gymnasium and climbing in the new playground. Families participate in a variety of events, such as the annual Pajama Party, Nursery School Art Show, Holiday Parties and School Visit Day, and are invited to share a Friday Shabbat with their child’s class. Great programs are also available for 2-year-olds. In addition to its stellar pre-k program the JCC now offers, a newly expanded STEAM program in partnership with TEKIä, an educational provider which creates classes designed to teach students to be 21stcentury learners by focusing on creativity, safe-use and common core integration. This programming is offered by the JCC Academic Center as part of its commitment to combine play and education and offer cutting edge education programming. Classes include STEM engineering, robotics, Minecraft Worlds, animation and video creation, and much more. These sessions are designed for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. According to the JCC’s Lisa Itzkowitz, “There has been a tremendous demand for more options in the field of education for engineering, gaming and creative designing within the context of after-school education.” The JCC is always looking for cutting edge children programming which can be offered under one roof so parents benefit from its size and facility for every member of the family at every age. The JCC of Mid-Westchester is open seven days per week and welcomes families of all backgrounds, religions and sexual orientations. For more information visit jccmw. org.

WCC offers spring community ed Westchester Community College Center for the Arts, located at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, launched its 2017 schedule for classes, highlighting community education courses in the arts. New classes such as Floral Photography, Photoshop as a Tool for Painters and Stone-setting are just some of the enriching courses offered this spring. WCC also has a variety of youth programming such as high school portfolio preparation classes, public speaking and summer art camps for kids. The center is fully equipped with stateof-the-art facilities, including studios for jewelry making, ceramics, drawing and painting, a photography darkroom and two computer labs. Students at CFA are taught by seasoned art professionals from Westchester County and New York City. “Attending classes here has opened doors to long-awaited passions,” jewelry student Christina Michie said. A new program at Center for the Arts gives students the opportunity to take college-level courses on the weekend. The Weekend Studies program offers the opportunity to work toward an associates degree and finish three-credit courses in seven and a half weeks on Saturday or Sunday. Visit sunywcc.edu/arts/artscourse-information for a full list of course offerings and to see the spring brochure.

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EDUCATION

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

Your child’s 1st teacher: you!

Scarsdale’s premier now PRESCHOOL & oFFering a 2’s ENRICHMENT ProgramProgram

Parents teaching tots through stories and play By LINDA LEAVITT

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he bulging abdomen of a pregnant woman is plain for all to see. But recent studies reveal that dramatic changes are also underway in her brain. Marked growth has been observed in areas of expectant mothers’ brains that are responsible for social cognition — changes that may help her understand and focus on her child’s needs. A secure emotional connection between mother and child lays the groundwork for communication, future relationships and learning. In the first few years of a child’s life, the foundational brain wiring is taking place and, according to the Urban Child Institute, “stable, secure children are more likely to develop the neural circuits associated with complex reasoning.” The brain finetunes itself throughout life, discarding weak or unused synapses and forging new ones to meet challenges that arise. Anyone who has spent time with little kids knows they love repetition in stories, songs and rhymes — all synapse strengtheners. Strong synapses support learning, memory and other cognitive abilities. As the years go by there will be outside influences to compete with, but from birth until nursery school parents and caregivers mostly control the young child’s environment. What they do and say can lay a rich foundation for future learning. Before they can talk, small children are sensitive to nonverbal cues, including emotions. So it’s important to model behavior you want your child to copy. A child who sees his mother lash out in anger or snap with impatience is not learning impulse control. “Use your words” is a good way to help small children express negative feelings without crying or throwing things. Parents and caregivers should also model good manners, including paying attention to the people who are present, even if they are children. These days it’s common to see parents and nannies chatting on cellphones while pushing bored tots in strollers. These caretakers are wasting opportunities to make the outing fun and meaningful for the child by offering simple explanations and ob-

THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER/PAGE 3A

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servations, engaging the child in conversation. It’s tempting to park a baby in front of the TV in order to get something done or take a needed break, but don’t expect the baby to gain much from the experience. Studies reported in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology consistently show that babies do not experience television and videos the same way older children do. Where an older child sees a story or information, the baby sees only fleeting, unrelated images with no connection to reality. Claims by Baby Einstein videos notwithstanding, infant exposure to television has not only proved ineffective as a teaching tool, but has been linked to delayed language development. It may also take the place of healthier activities and lead to heavier viewing throughout childhood. Based on these concerns, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that children under age 2 not watch television at all, and that older children watch only one or two hours of quality programming. Some TV is inevitable; watching with your toddler and discussing what you see can make it a

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more positive experience. OK, so prolonged TV watching, talking on the phone and using social media is out. What, then, can parents do to prime toddlers for school? Parents Magazine suggests a “Go Get” game. Send your child on different errands around the house, asking him to get his shoes, bring you the ball or find and deliver his cup. Besides letting him practice his receptive language skills by following directions, this activity lets him show you how much he can accomplish by himself. Older children can help compile grocery lists and pick out recipes to make for dinner or dessert. Cooking together teaches counting, fractions, sequencing and fine motor skills and gives the child the satisfaction of producing something the family enjoys. It also fosters a willingness to try new foods. Collaborating on “book making” with children is another fun activity. You can start the story off by asking the child to name the characters and the scene and writing down the story as the child tells it, helping out with narrative coherence as necessary. Illustrate with simple draw-

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ings and then staple the pages together. The child can write a story about himself or his friends or be inspired by another book. (For example, after reading Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit,” a 4-year-old and his grandmother wrote and illustrated a sequel in which Peter retrieves the jacket he lost in Mr. McGregor’s garden.) Kids don’t need to read to enjoy a scavenger hunt. Draw or cut out pictures of things for them to find outdoors, such as pinecones, acorns, a purple flower, a penny, a white rock — and give them each a paper bag to put their treasures in. All these activities nurture growing brains. But The College Board has found that the single most important activity for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. In addition to information and entertainment value books offer, reading to children reinforces the rhythm and grammatical structure of language. The child enjoys anticipating the story development and seeing it end as he expects. (Many a weary parent who has tried to skip a phrase or a page in a familiar story

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Continued on page 4A

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EDUCATION

PAGE 4A/THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER

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Getting a handle on the college application process By LESLIE BERKOVITS

T

he buzz is everywhere. College rankings and admissions trends continue to be hot topics, creating a palpable level of energy, if not stress, in the halls of high schools and around dining room tables. No doubt some far-sighted (or anxious) students have been pouring over college guides and ranking lists for years; far more are still not ready to begin. But ready or not, by January, at the latest, most high school juniors are formally introduced to the college application process. This road may seem long and challenging, but it is also an exciting first step toward the future. While the landmarks associated with applying to college — identifying schools, meeting the requirements, completing the forms — are the same, the details do change, sometimes significantly, from year to year. In the last several years, the number of applications students submit has steadily increased. The reasons for this are varied. On the simplest level, application platforms have become more standardized and digitized so that in some instances little more than a push of a button (and payment of the fee) is needed. But competition has also increased for a static or even declining number of seats, making the admissions climate more volatile, and students have responded by applying to more schools. The college list, however lengthy, must start somewhere and should be balanced to include options across a comfortable range of selectivity. Where to begin, then? A positive attitude, an open mind and a willingness to explore options are the most helpful tools for applying to college. Visiting schools can be a useful first step to finding a good fit, which encompasses many factors including size, location, academic programs, cam-

Technology Continued from page 1A

students throughout the county can benefit from knowing how to navigate the Google Classroom experience, which also includes the added convenience (and necessity) of backup storage and access to work from anywhere and any device. “The classroom is not just a physical space,” agreed Hill. With the ability to log on from your aunt’s house on your laptop or MetroNorth from your smartphone, “It’s a virtual space as well.” Another area of classroom technology Kissner recommends students experiment with and learn is note-taking apps, like Evernote or OneNote. “Any note-taking tool will help students stay organized,” he said. To further encourage students to be more organized, but in a fun way, Kissner likes the Habitica app, which helps users improve real-life habits by “gamifying” them. Students can use it to make sure daily tasks like homework get done and also add life goals to the game. “It changes the way we approach a to-do list and habits,” he said, “that feels like a vintage video game.”

First teacher Continued from page 1A

has been called out by an attentive toddler.) “More than a love for books, or actually learning to read, I think there are many moral/ethical messages in the books we choose,” said one mother. After reading a book about a boy who was quiet and therefore overlooked, she asked her 5-year-old which character he most identified with in the story, or would most like to be. “Through our discussions about books, I am teaching emotional intelligence, since I ask about how they think the characters feel,” she said. “We talk

pus culture, internship opportunities and alumni networks. For most, these first college visits also serve the purpose of making the process seem real. Seeing a school with students on campus, sitting in on classes, sipping coffee in the student union, reading the student newspaper, or having a meal in the dining hall all help students appreciate college life. While it may seem daunting at first, the initial tours and subsequent campus visits can help students identify the most important factors in their college search.For students who have specific needs, this process may take more effort. Whether it is a specialized academic program or facility, a certain sports team, a particular student organization or learning or disability support that is important, an applicant should investigate carefully. For example, not all schools offer engineering or education degrees or significant performance opportunities for nonmajors in music and theater. Similarly, while most colleges offer

some academic support to all students and eligible students can arrange for specific accommodations like extra time on tests, recorded books or class notes, more extensive services cannot be found on every campus. Even where they are offered, the options for support, which might include peer tutoring, workshops on time management or even comprehensive, fee-based programs requiring separate applications for admission, vary widely. If a student has specific needs, make appointments to meet with the appropriate personnel on campus to learn more. Finding the right environment will offer the best chance for success. Once students create that initial list of colleges, the individual components of the application process become critical. SAT? ACT? Subject tests? Choosing among the panoply of standardized tests and knowing if or when to take (or retake) tests is not straightforward. Should a student take standardized tests at the same time as high school final exams? Will tutors be involved for either pri-

Software that enables students to create their own video games is one of the recommendations of Aurora Smith, editor and PR coordinated at iD Tech Camps, which runs summer programs at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville and Manhattanville College in Purchase, as well as across the country. “It’s vital for children and teenagers to learn STEM skills — the possibilities and opportunities technology can provide to kids are endless,” said Smith, who recommends Unreal Engine 4, a complete set of free video game design and development tools, which enable designers to create anything from mobile games to virtual reality environments. “Used by indie and professional game developers worldwide, we use this software in several courses at our camps because of its versatility, accessibility, and because if children are interested in becoming game designers, having knowledge of this program can help them secure jobs and internships in the industry,” said Smith. Parents, take note: Smith also recommends another app/game that is probably already familiar to many families: Minecraft. “Minecraft may not seem educational at first, but its possibilities in terms of

learning are almost endless,” she said. “The game teaches dozens of concepts, both directly and indirectly: math, reading, problem-solving, self-direction, creativity and more. These skills are incredibly valuable both in school and in future employment opportunities.” That’s good news for the parents of the many Minecraft addicts out there. Other top recommendations at iD Tech include the equally fun Lego robotics kits, which help develop engineering and robotics skills and virtual reality experiences with HTC Vive headsets. “Children studying virtual reality are on the cutting edge of this new skill set,” said Smith, who adds that they are “learning to think, work and create in a 3D space.” There is one main technology that experts also agree on that is crucial for kids to learn: programming or coding. Rather than learning programs like Word, PowerPoint or Excel, said Matt Hamblen, senior editor, mobile & wireless at Computerworld, “students should learn a basic concept called sequencing. The real focus of education with technology needs to be on the underpinnings of what you buy off the store shelves. … I’d be pushing people to learn what makes computers work.”

“Teaching the fundamentals of coding is a great brain exercise,” Hill said. Those who teach coding to kids agree. “It’s an important skill because learning how to program teaches how to think, problem solve and a design process,” said Kissner. “It take a specific type of mind to be able to become a programmer. But learning the process is good regardless.” One of the things Kissner likes best about teaching programming is really the key to all learning. “What I love about computer programming is that it teaches that failure is a good thing,” he said, adding that when kids write code that doesn’t work, they learn to go back, see where they went wrong and try again. “Learning how to approach problems in different ways,” said Kissner, “is a valuable learning experience.” However they use it, students need to learn how to navigate and use the technology that is available to them now in order to prepare for what will be on the horizon tomorrow. “Kids coming into college will have lab partners who aren’t sitting next to them, but are around the globe,” predicted Hill. “There is a global information ocean that can be overwhelming, but can also be incredibly enriching.”

about the pictures and they learn skills of observation, an appreciation for art, and in today’s case, how to calm down when your friend grabs one of your favorite toys.” In their zeal to give their children an edge in an increasingly competitive world, some parents are pushing academics at an increasingly early age, drilling preschoolers in letter and number recognition at the expense of playtime. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University, is concerned about this trend. Accepting an award from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, she said, “Naming letters and numbers is superficial and almost irrelevant in relation to the capacities we want to help children de-

velop: self-regulation, problem solving ability, social and emotional competence, imagination, initiative, curiosity, original thinking — these capacities make or break success in school and life and they can’t be reduced to numbers.” In the book “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less,” (Rodale, 2004) the authors advocate play as a critical bridge to lifelong learning. Play can be suggested, but not assigned; prescribed learning is replaced with enjoyable, voluntary, active engagement that usually includes creativity and some level of make believe. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Chil-

dren, free play with building blocks fosters many skills, not the least of which is mathematical ability. The key for parents is to suggest, encourage, ask questions and pose age-appropriate challenges, while leaving enough room for your child’s autonomy. Carlsson-Paige believes, “Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe.” The take-away for parents? Throw out those flash cards and educational videos. Forget the quizzes and what your neighbor’s kid has memorized. The best thing you can do for your preschooler is relax, talk, read and play.

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vate sessions or in a classroom setting? If not, will the student have the discipline to prepare alone? These decisions, like most associated with the college application process, should always be based on a student’s individual needs and best interests, and not on what everyone else is doing. Once the tests are completed, which results to send will depend on the student’s scores and each school’s requirements.Next, students will need to decide when to apply. EA, ED, SCEA, RD, Rolling — the alphabet soup and often misunderstood vocabulary of college admissions plans has become a language of strategy, further sorting a college list that often remains fluid through December of senior year. Standardized test scores, where required, as well as a student’s grades and strength of schedule factor heavily in assessing a student’s candidacy for a particular college. These factors can also impact the decision to apply using a specific application plan. From that initial list, students should identify the application plans offered by each school. Details matter. How restrictive is Restrictive Early Action? Is it in the applicant’s interest — academically, emotionally and financially — to make a binding commitment (Early Decision)? How does making a binding early commitment affect the chances of admission at the remaining schools on the list? What is the family’s comfort level regarding taking a risk on a reach school in the ED round?Of course, for some families, the bottom line in this entire process is the bottom line. Tuition, which does not include room and board, supplies or travel expenses, varies widely depending on whether the school is public or private. An honest dialogue about any financial limitations that might affect the college search is critical. Remember, the amount of aid a family believes it needs for a school to be affordable may not be the same Continued on page 6A

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EDUCATION

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Education books Continued from page 1A

by the online resource goodreads.com, included “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, “Death and Life of the Great American School System” by Diane Ravitch, “The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley, “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” by John Taylor Gatto, “The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Susan Wise Bauer, “The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child” by Donalyn Miller, “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen, “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom” by Lisa Delpit, “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” by Paul Tough, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck, “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” by Bell Hooks and “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America” by Jonathan Kozol. Parenting.com’s Melissa Taylor rated “10 Best Books for Thinking Parents,” saying, “I geek out about books that help me understand my kids’ brains and how I can facilitate learning, growth and creativity.” Taylor’s suggestions include “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs” by Ellen Galinsky. Taylor calls it “a book that requires a highlighter and notepad — it’s really exceptional.” “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, “will change everything you think,” Taylor says at parenting.com. “The authors take the latest science and apply it to parenting in areas like motivation, praise, sibling relationships, sleep and more.” “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential” by Ellen Kennedy Moore and Mark Lowenthal “talks about tempering perfectionism and tells us parents to resist giving pointers to our kids,” Taylor notes, adding that she “loved the chapters on temperament, sensitivity, cooperation, joy and … heck, it’s all good.” “Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder” by Mariah Bruehl is noted for being by a former teacher “who makes play and learning accessible to parents at home with kids. I loved this book and highlighted at least half,” according to Taylor. “Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn — and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less,” by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff is noted by Taylor on parenting.com as a book parents should read before putting a child into preschool. “The research overwhelmingly shows the difference in how play is essential for child development in math, reading, verbal communication, science, self-awareness and social skills. Not academics. It’s very compelling,” she writes. Additional books suggested by Taylor in parenting.com include “Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five” by John Medina, “No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids” by Harley Robart and “Different Learners: Identifying, Preventing and Treating Your Child’s Learning Problems” by Jane M. Healey.

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UNDER PRESSURE

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hile parents tend to rate themselves as 10s on the scale of stress, they also tend to not recognize that their children are also experiencing stresses and searching for meaningful ways to relieve their anxieties. “Kids have all sorts of worries and stresses,” said Dr. Paul J. Donahue, Ph.D., director of Child Development Associates in Scarsdale. “But the biggest ones tend to revolve around the three S’s — school, sports and socializing.” Donahue said he sees stress in students at all levels. “I see even young elementary school children who worry about their academic performance, and many are anxious about making the travel teams and performing at a high level on the sports fields,” he said. “By middle school, kids are often also stressed about their place in the social groupings that form at that age. They wonder if they are in the right group chats or if they will be invited to the gatherings big and small … By high school, everything gets ratcheted up, especially the academic pressure and the stress over grades and college admissions.” Even toddlers can feel their own anxieties, said Dr. Robert Rosenberg, M.D., of Hartsdale Pediatrics. “The stresses for preschoolers can include separation anxiety from being away from their parents,” he said. “The job of a 3-year-old is to recognize strong emotions and recognize how to handle them. Parents can guide children through tantrums and encourage them to use words to manage them.” Whatever the age, kids are feeling stresses and many of them can be exacerbated by additional family conflicts or difficulties, said Donahue, “including separation or divorce. Kids who struggle with chronic illness or worry about family members’ health concerns face their own unique set of challenges.

A family’s financial stresses or parents loss of a job can also weigh heavily on children, especially if they are not allowed to share that information with friends or other adults.” Parents can help by being aware of the signs of stress in their children. “Stress reveals itself in a number of ways,” according to Donahue. “Difficulty sleeping, stomach or bowel problems and both overeating and loss of appetite are among the common physical symptoms. On the emotional side, we often see increases in irritability, sluggishness or apathy and heightened anxiety.” How can parents alleviate stress in their children once they know it’s there? “Being supportive is important,” Rosenberg said. “Pay attention and try to go below the surface. Try to find out what’s going on — give children a chance to talk. Have a meal together.” Rosenberg suggested, “Have a talk before bedtime. If children are anxious before bed, they won’t sleep well, and they won’t grow as well.” Maintaining regular routines including wake-up and bed times are critical. “Kids love routine and thrive when they know what will happen next,” Rosenberg said. Donahue agrees. “The No. 1 thing parents can do to help their children, especially their teens, is to encourage them to get more sleep,” he said. “Lack of sleep prevents kids from thinking clearly and working effectively, limits their focus and raises their level of tension and anxiety. A prolonged sleep debit can also leave kids feeling exhausted and emotionally drained.” Kids are always going to have stress, but parents can help alleviate it and prevent its buildup in a number of ways, say the experts. “Helping kids get outdoors and get plenty of exercise can help them feel refreshed and ready to handle their school work,” Donahue said. “Not over-scheduling kids is also important, so they can have down time to play or hang out with friends or watch a show on Netflix or funny videos on YouTube. Helping teens plan out their work and

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THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER/PAGE 5A

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schedule of activities can keep them more organized and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by last minute assignments or exam prep.” The bottom line: “Kids of all ages need time to relax and regroup with their families — by sharing meals, watching shows or videos or just laughing together. Parents need to demonstrate that the life they are heading for is not all work and a dreary stream of chores,” Donahue said. Top ways kids themselves can help lower their stress levels, said Donahue, include developing good study and work habits and keeping up with varied interests like clubs, art, music or sports so that they don’t begin to feel that all of their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment comes solely from how they perform in school. “They should also do things that are purely for fun and enjoyment, even if they seem silly or immature. A lot of teens I know like the guilty pleasure of watching TV with their younger siblings or playing pretend games or capture the flag with their younger cousins.” Kids do need some guidance when it comes to handling stress. “Among the mistakes kids make in trying to manage their stress is opting to sacrifice their rest and stress relievers to work longer hours on schoolwork in the hope that a little more time and effort will give them some added sense of relief,” Donahue said. “Too often this is a spurious bargain, which never quite delivers that much sought-after feeling.” While too much stress is unhealthy, having a little stress isn’t bad. “A healthy dose of concern for the future and a sense that your grades and study habits matter in high school can spur kids to be better students,” Donahue said. “The key is to keep things in balance and not get too stressed that a bad test score or quarter grade will have dire consequences.” Something parents should probably keep in mind as well.

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EDUCATION

College applications Continued from page 4A

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as that calculated by the school. Merit aid opportunities often bring another set of essays, deadlines and other requirements that can impact a student’s application strategy. Adding a financial “likely” school to the list can ensure that changed circumstances in the spring of senior year will not impact a student’s ability to attend college. *** Once all these decisions are made, it’s time to apply, which can be timeintensive and administratively demanding. Still the most common platform, the Common Application, can be used to apply to most schools. Some schools, however, accept only their own application formats and others accept the new Coalition Application or the Universal Application either exclusively or as alternatives to the Common App. No matter the platform, students can expect to see a main “college essay” or personal statement, school-specific supplemental essays and questions about extracurricular activities, academics and family demographics. Which application to use depends on a variety of factors, including the particular school, the essay questions required, the limitations on the number of schools any one platform will support, etc. Like the timing of taking standardized tests, the strategies for choosing an application plan and platform are very individual — no two applicants’ circumstances are identical. The ultimate results of this process are sometimes confounding to students who have done all that has been asked of them to be competitive candidates for admission. Admissions decisions can appear capricious. There will be surprises, good and bad, no matter how much research and thought goes into the process. Grades, rigor of curriculum and scores (where required) do matter, but so do many other factors. Sometimes there are unique circumstances that favor an applicant in the admissions process such as special talents, athletic recruitment and legacy. Colleges seek to build diverse, interesting classes to promote a robust learning environment. Since this can mean different things at different times, it inevitably interjects a very real randomness to the process, making results unpredictable. An applicant who is an accomplished bassoonist when the school is graduating its top two bassoon players may be in luck that year, but possibly not in another.The good news is that there is not just one perfect school, although it may feel that way at times. Nothing in this process is guaranteed, but almost all students can thrive at any number of colleges. So, do the work involved in refining choices to maximize options, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey as this can be a very special time for families and a period of real growth for students. Be flexible, take advantage of resources to help handle the experience with the least amount of stress, and avoid getting caught up in rumors and misinformation. The optimal path to future success is very personal, defined by what is right for each individual student. Leslie Berkovits is a co-owner of Collegistics in Scarsdale, which helps students and their families navigate the college process. Visit collegistics.com.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

Which college environment is ‘right’ for you? Continued from page 1A

wholeheartedly to their educations. An institution does not determine one’s success. Instead, it only provides resources to inspire, support and challenge students on their individual journeys so they can best shape their own success. Finding that match

This can be particularly challenging for a 17- or 18-year-old who is still searching for his or her identity, but it is worth the effort. Leslie Berkovits and Lillian Hecht, two partners of Collegistics, an independent, Scarsdale-based college advising service, shared a written statement advising students to reflect on their expectations, needs and learning styles: “Students should try to identify the factors that are important to them, being cognizant that these will shift as they grow emotionally and intellectually before and during college. It is helpful to think about the learning environment in which they can best thrive — smaller classes and close relationships with peers and professors may be easier to find at small, liberal arts colleges; large universities offer a breadth of opportunities for academics and research, but those introductory courses may well hold hundreds of students. Core curriculum? Open plan? Close to home? Different time zone? Active campus? Commuter feel? Athletic programs on a national stage? Greek life? Rural? Urban? Liberal? Conservative? Students should ask these questions of themselves and spend time on campus to figure out the answers and discover what feels right.” Collegistics added, “Doing research online, reading college guides, talking with guidance counselors and speaking to alumni all offer various perspective and insight. The best way to evaluate a college environment, however, is to personally visit the school. Beyond the tours and information sessions, students who visit can speak with current students, sit in on classes and envision themselves on campus.” Likewise, Kiers recommends using a computer program like Naviance, which “can definitely help a student navigate the process along with their counselor. [Naviance’s] ability to select specific criteria in a college such as location, size of school and majors could be a good first step in getting a list of schools to research online and even visit.” A college’s academic environment is, of course, paramount to a successful college experience. In particular, this means the “right” college should offer a well-developed program of study and meaningful resources in the student’s area of interest. What kinds of classes are offered in the student’s potential major? What kind of facilities and equipment support the major? How many professors teach classes in the major, and what are their areas of expertise? Have alumni gone on to make significant contributions in the field, and is the major supported by alumni or endowments? Are internships or co-ops available in the field? What is the quality of work being produced by current students and do opportunities exist for that work to reach the outside world? Reading up on various academic departments, conversing with faculty members and touring the academic department of interest will help answer these questions. From experience

For example, consider the observations

of the following two students. When my nephew was applying to schools two years ago he was passionate about computer science. He started his search by identifying several colleges with good reputations in math and science. However, during his campus tours, he discovered that the computer science major was a different animal at different schools. At some institutions, computer science was a well-developed department within the school of engineering, supported by numerous faculty members and dedicated labs. At other schools, computer science was treated as a special interest major with only requisite classes taught by one or two professors in the mathematics department. It was an obvious choice about which schools to eliminate and which to investigate further. Similarly, during my daughter’s college search, we spent significant time touring the fine arts departments at various liberal arts colleges. Although all of the schools boasted excellent reputations, their fine arts facilities varied tremendously. One campus tour revealed shared studio space for painting, drawing, printmaking and ceramics, with the result of mostly smallscale work being produced. At another college, the fine arts department was relegated to the rear of the athletic building, adjacent to football locker rooms and far away from the rest of campus. Rather than choosing one of these schools in which the fine arts were treated as niche majors, my daughter instead choose a liberal arts college with a dedicated arts quad, complete with professional equipment covering a full range of media, airy studio space, student exhibition galleries, dedicated critique rooms and an integrated program to help segue students into practical professions in the arts. The right environment(s)

Beyond departmental considerations, a college’s overall academic environment should be evaluated according to a student’s individual learning style. In what kind of environment does he or she thrive? Independent, self-driven learners may require less hands-on involvement from professors and advisers, while students who need extra support may fare better at schools that cultivate close professor/ student interaction. If a student loves hand-on experiences, he or she should look for a school that emphasizes independent research, service learning, co-op programs or practical internships. If a student comes alive through classroom interaction and finds inspiration in others’ ideas, he or she should look for an academic envi-

ronment that emphasizes collaborative learning, seminar style classes and creative thinking. Students with strong leadership skills should look for colleges that offer leadership training and support studentdriven initiatives. Think of identifying the “right” academic environment as planting a seed in an environment with ideal growing conditions, to make it thrive. In addition to academics, the college environment includes several other factors, namely physical environment, social environment and emotional environment. Physical environment starts with a college’s geographic setting and extends to its campus, facilities and even the surrounding town. Social environment reflects the demographics and diversity of a school’s student population, the school’s clubs and organizations, free-time activities and student interactions that occur in and out of the classroom. The social environment may also involve exchanges and ties with the community. A college’s emotional environment, while more difficult to quantify, is often related to the identity and aura of a college, its practiced traditions and ways in which students are invited to belong. A school’s emotional environment is influenced by other factors, such as empathy, diversity, professor and student relationships, alumni involvement, shared beliefs, attitudes and the general campus character. Physical environment should not be overlooked because it strongly influences students’ comfort and well-being. Selecting a college is not just about signing up for a program of classes for the next eight semesters. It is about selecting a place to live for the next four years. If you really can’t deal with snow and cold temperatures, you might want to reconsider a school in the snow-belt. If you thrive on the diversity and energy of an urban environment, a big city school might be perfect for you. Close your eyes and imagine a small liberal arts school situated on a green quad outside a small rural town. For some students, this feels like an idyllic paradise for exploration and learning. For others, it feels like a sentence of boredom in the middle of nowhere. Some students’ passions are directly linked to certain geographic settings. For example, a student with a dream of pursuing marine biology will most likely find more research opportunities at a coastal school than at a landlocked institution. Students who are avid skiers or sailors may be happiest at a college where they Continued on the next page

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017 Continued from previous page

can continue to develop those sports and hobbies. A friend’s son, from New York, was determined to attend the University of Hawaii. Why? Because this young man was thrilled with Hawaii’s warm, beautiful climate and knew he may never have an opportunity to live there again. After four years of a very happy education, he returned to continental U.S. and started graduate school. Making the visit(s)

Prospective students should visit a campus at least two times — at different times of the school year — to get a sense of the college environment during various seasons. A campus tour should include not only academic facilities, but also freshman dorms, dorm restrooms, dining halls and other areas that students populate. Families should make it a point to visit the nearby town and local establishments frequented by students. What is of interest in the town; how far away is it; and is there transportation back and forth to campus? Is the town characterized by an organic juice joint, a sports bar, coffee at the local Starbucks or an Amish diner? Some schools are surrounded by traffic, tall buildings and urban neighborhoods; others are in the middle of cornfields and chicken coops. You need to visit, to know. Once on campus, prospective students should imagine themselves there and pay attention to how these places make them feel. Does the school feel inviting and exciting? Is the prospective student already daydreaming about setting up her dorm room, doing experiments in the biology lab and making footprints in the quad after the first snowfall? Or is the college’s physical environment unappealing for a particular reason? Maybe the dorms are in poor condition, the campus is too spread out (or too closed in) or the buildings feel too institutional. Ideally, each student will find a college that touches his or her own sweet spot. Comfortable on campus

A college’s social environment reflects the kinds of students who attend the school and their interactions with one another, as well as the type of social events available at the school. Diversity, race and gender equality, religious freedom, equal opportunity and LGBT rights are values shared by many young people today. To make sure a college environment aligns with and supports your own values, it is worthwhile to investigate more than just the diversity statistics of the student body. For a more rounded picture of how diversity functions at a particular school, one should also look at the demographics of professors and other staff members, the diversity of clubs and organizations, and course offerings in women’s studies, queer (LGBTQ) studies, African-American studies and world religions. A conversation with the college’s diversity coordinator, a call to the public safety office or even an Internet search can also yield additional information. Particularly, it can alert you if there have been any hate incidents on campus that do not align with your values. In such incidents, the college’s response is critical, because it will tell you if college policies and administra-

tion are in line with your own values. To learn more about a school’s social environment, inquire about campus-sponsored social events, team and club sports, cultural happenings and other leisure activities. Are there any clubs that support your interests? Can you easily start a new club with likeminded students? A rich calendar of organized social and cultural events tends to keep students busy on campus and encourages community fellowship. At schools near buzzing college towns or large cities, students may find themselves tempted by entertainment off campus. Shuttle and bus services, student discounts and student memberships at off-campus institutions create a different kind of social environment, as opposed to a social environment focused on campus events. It is up to the prospective student to determine in which environment he or she feels most comfortable. Some students want to join a fraternity or a sorority. If that’s you, make sure you choose a college environment that supports Greek life. Likewise, some prospective students equate partying with the college experience. While some degree of partying occurs on almost all campuses, certain social environments emphasize it, while others do not. Try to identify a social environment that best matches your expectations about college life. “As in identifying an appropriate campus environment, it’s important for students to determine their comfort in a particular location,” said Berkovits and Hecht of Collegistics. “College is a time for personal growth and students can take advantage of being in a different region of the country, exploring new and different cultural influences that might expand their perspectives. For some, however, the unfamiliar may be too uncomfortable and distract from a positive learning environment.” Eliminate the anxiety

Students — and parents — should attempt to approach the college admissions process with less anxiety. There is no one “best” school for a student. There are only “right for me” schools. Berkovits and Hecht summarize: “Students should realize that they can be comfortable and happy in a variety of environments. There is no one perfect school or ideal college environment. Students who push boundaries and who are open to new possibilities often find themselves discovering new interests and developing more informed goals … “Whereas for some, the college experience conjures thoughts of late-night philosophical debates, for others it’s planning charity events or painting rocks ahead of a game day tailgate. Finding ways to be connected matters, which is why fit is so important … “College is a time for becoming more self-aware, which may involve pushing boundaries to explore the unfamiliar. It’s a chance to go beyond what is comfortable, safe, predictable and expected. In the end, students who are clear about their goals, are committed to learning, and remain open to opportunities different from what they’ve imagined will make the most of their college experience.” To make it the “right” one.

EDUCATION

THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER/PAGE 7A

Learning values, teamwork through youth sports 2016 will be remembered for is its exciting and emotional highlights of sports teams working together to achieve new heights, from hometown heroes to some of sports history’s greatest athletes. Whether it’s a neighborhood scrimmage or a national championship, experts agree that the benefits of belonging to a team are significant, and they range well beyond physical exercise. These important experiences teach lessons that help shape kids and teens’ outlooks about themselves, working with others and the world around them. Boys & Girls Clubs of America, through its national partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, has introduced tens of thousands of kids and teens to various sports through its popular All Stars program. All Stars is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s leading team sports program, offering opportunities for clubs around the country to organize football, basketball, cheer, dance and step programs. Based on observations from participating clubs around the country, here are the top life lessons instilled by being part of a team and how participation can help kids and teens feel a sense of belonging and acceptance: • Teamwork: By working together on a team, kids and teens can learn not only how to lead, but also how to follow directions. The ability to work well with others will help them at home, at school

and at game time. Young people also experience the satisfaction of working together toward a common goal, which is an essential skill to learn for successes down the road. • Sportsmanship: Whether in sports, with family and friends or at the workplace, it’s important to know how to properly handle winning and losing. Kids and teens who learn it’s okay to

lose — and how to act when they do — gain an important skill to help them throughout their life. Through sports, they can learn to play fair, act with humility and handle both victory and defeat with grace, style and dignity. • Strong character: By mastering athletic skills, players gain self-confidence that carries through to the real world. By practicing regularly they learn disci-

pline and responsibility. By playing in a fast-paced game, kids and teens learn to handle stressful situations and make quick decisions. By being part of a team, young people experience a sense of belonging while building valuable friendships. What’s more, when parents and caregivers gather to watch games, it can strengthen communities and provide a sense of unity. • Healthy lifestyles: Three out of 10 youth are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Finding fun ways to keep kids and teens active will help fight this growing epidemic. Team sports provide a great opportunity for young people to get moving. Because it’s fun, they often don’t even realize its exercise. By promoting an active lifestyle from an early age, caregivers can help today’s youth learn healthy habits that can have a lifelong impact. • Practice makes perfect, when practice is done correctly: No one throws a perfect spiral or hits a three-pointer the first time they try. To improve at sports you need to practice. Sports teach kids and teens that if they want something they have to work for it. Practice and proper preparation are key skills throughout life, whether for a big game, big test at school or any of life’s big challenges. — BPT

Capture your teen’s authentic self with senior portraits Here it is, the final year of high school. A year from now, nothing will be the same, so this is, no doubt, an exciting and often nostalgic time for the entire family. As this final year of high school begins, now’s the time to think about senior portraits. Of course, you want your teen to be on board with the entire process so you have a collection of beautiful images you will treasure forever. “This is such an exciting time for high school seniors and their parents,” said Angela Kurkian, a professional photographer of 22 years. “It’s the culmination of their childhood, and while parents see the young adult before them, they also see the child they’ve watched grow up. These photographs will forever be part of their story and should reflect not only who the senior is, but who they’ve been and who they will be.” Here are some tips to help you, as parents, guide the process so you end up with photos that you love because they are an authentic expression of your child: • Map out where the photos will live: From one photo session, you will be using several images to suit several purposes. Make a list and consider what you will need ahead of time. A wall portrait that becomes the focal point of a room? A collection of several smaller framed pieces? Some images will look stunning displayed as a large print on a wall, but will get lost in a smaller layout, such as a yearbook space or a small frame. While many people think about the main portrait, don’t forget you will also need some options with a simple, unclut-

tered background that just showcases the most important thing in a portrait: the face. At this early stage, discuss with your teen what they want from the session so you can head off any potential conflict. • Focus on your teen’s personality: Now that the head shots are settled, think about the big portrait. Here, you’ll be thinking about style, setting and how the photo is shot so your teen can let his or her personality shine, and you can preserve that special memory of where they were at this time in their youth. Talk with your teen about how they want to express themselves, whether it’s getting their game face on or going with a candid portrait in a natural setting they love spending time in. The next step is to review a variety of portfolios and narrow them down to a few photographers who have im-

ages that show the style and personality you are looking for. • Choose a professional photographer: Seasoned, highly awarded photographer Dan McClanahan has seen plenty of clients who were disappointed with how their senior portraits came out after turning to a family friend or a relative who is an amateur photographer. High school senior portraits are just too critical to take a risk on someone who hasn’t yet demonstrated they can get consistently great results. That’s why you get the best images from a professional. “When you work with a professional photographer, you’re paying for the artistic and technical knowledge to capture and preserve your graduate’s unique personality,” McClanahan said. “Not only that, he or she will have the experience to make your

graduate feel comfortable.” Before you make your final selection, see if you can meet with the photographer in person. Not only will you plan the session together, it might also help you and your teen feel more comfortable. “And whether or not you can meet beforehand,” McClanahan said, “”photographers are pros at getting our subjects to feel at ease. That’s what we do.” • Choose the right outfits: Have this discussion ahead of time in a conversational way. Teens often feel very comfortable and happy in their favorite clothes, whether their style is casual or bold and individualistic. Be sure to respect their preferences while having the talk about choosing clothing that will look flattering in a photo today and years to come. No matter what, the style of the decade will be part and parcel of the image — that is impossible to avoid. Still, you’ll want to avoid busy prints and logos to avoid looking overly dated. “Depending on the background or the lighting conditions, different fabrics, colors and textures can result in stunning, unique effects in a senior portrait,” McClanahan said. “And this is why you should never shy away from asking your photographers what outfits or colors might work best.” Whatever the look, make sure your teen feels comfortable and at ease. Because if there is one thing McClanahan has learned, people look their best when they are feeling great. Don’t let the years go by and the memories slip away. Consider getting a session done with your teens. Time files too quickly. — BPT

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The face of education in the United States is changing. Many of today’s universities are embracing digital technology to deliver instruction in ways not available to previous generations. We have seen the digital instruction methods evolve from the use of learning aides such as computers, digital projectors and DVD players to online learning, which allows students the flexibility to tackle their coursework at a time and pace that works best for them. Some advanced technologies can seamlessly link two or more classrooms for simultaneous instruction, ultimately expanding student access to courses and professors to participate together in one synchronous learning experience. An innovative classroom format can instill important virtual collaboration skills and encourage interaction with tools like remote wireless content sharing and twoway whiteboard displays, as are found in DeVry University’s extended classrooms. Video-connected classrooms are gen-

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erally equipped with voice-activated motion cameras, facial-recognition software, high-definition wide-screen monitors complete with picture-in-picture views, desktop cameras and interactive two-way touch-screen whiteboards. This technology is designed to help students learn and interact with their fellow classmates no matter where they are taking the class. DeVry also recently launched its new video connected classroom technology that seamlessly links 23 DeVry campus locations for simultaneous instruction, depending on the program, course and extended classroom availability. “Our students tell us they appreciate having a variety of courses available, and taught in ways that fit their schedules and preferences,” said Robert Paul, president of DeVry University. “The connected classroom technology allows students to have real-time visual interaction with faculty and fellow classmates. These high-tech classrooms exemplify our investment in academic experiences

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that are collaborative yet personalized, with student engagement at the core.” DeVry’s extended classrooms are just one example of technological innovations taking place in the classroom setting. Over the next year, the university plans to invest heavily in technology to enhance the student experience by offering these additional on-campus capabilities: • Tech playgrounds at select campus locations throughout the country, putting students in touch with innovative technology in imaginative settings. • Hardware and software upgrades, including adding thousands of new computers in campuses nationwide, to revitalize existing desktop stations and network labs. • Internet bandwidth increases to improve wireless capabilities and provide a faster, more seamless learning experience. — BPT

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EDUCATION

PAGE 8A/THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

Summertime offers unique education opportunities By MAJA TARATETA

T

Eye exams for your child's health and education By now, kids have settled back into their school day routine, teachers know each student’s abilities and potential and you’re feeling like you have a moment to catch a breath after the holidays. Then, an envelope comes home from school with a troubling surprise: your child is having difficulty seeing the white board in class. The school recommends a full eye exam. “It’s not uncommon for parents to be unaware their child is having vision issues and children themselves may not realize it either,” says Dr. Mark Jacquot, clinical director for LensCrafters Vision Care. “Kids use their eyes constantly in the classroom and on the playground. Problems often come to light during the first months of the school year, when children either have a vision screening in school or their teacher notices them struggling academically.” Between 15 to 20 percent of preschool-age kids have a vision problem such as nearsightedness, lazy eye (2 to 5 percent), and 3 to 4 percent have a condition that causes the eyes to turn in or out, according to the Vision Council. However, 2 of 3 kids start school without having had a comprehensive eye exam. Undiagnosed vision problems can also lead to behavioral problems in school and difficulty with class work.

Some kids may even have their vision issues misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorders, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. Some signs of vision issues — like a short attention span for close work or difficulty reading — mirror ADD symptoms. Parents should be alert for common signs of vision problems in children, including: · Pupils of different sizes · Red eyes · Swollen eyelids · Excessive blinking, stumbling or daydreaming · Rubbing eyes · Squinting · Headaches, dizziness, nausea or double vision · Holding reading materials very close to the face. “In-school vision screenings generally only test for how well a child sees at various distances, so it’s important for children to have the health of their eyes checked by a doctor through a comprehensive exam each year, even if you haven’t noticed signs of a problem,” Jacquot said. “Eye health can be a valuable indicator of overall health, and a comprehensive eye exam can detect or rule out serious health conditions.” — BPT

he week my son skinned a deer carcass discovered in the woods, tanned its hide and made a piece of leather with a small group of other 9-year-old boys, I knew we had turned a profound corner on unique summer experiences. He spent that same week making and using his own fire-starting kit and learning how to build a shelter in the wild, among other survival skills. Some summers change children. If we are lucky as parents, summer programs can be not only fun, but can also educate kids and open them to new experiences and ideas. A few years ago, my son had one of those summers when he signed up for the Naturalist Camp day program at Muscoot Farm in Katonah. The camp was run by professional outdoor educator Eric Stone, who has since gone on to start the Rewilding School and now also offers outdoor survival skills classes and experiences for children and adults at Curious-on-Hudson in Dobbs Ferry. At the Muscoot Naturalist Camp, Stone hiked the kids out onto the farm’s property each morning and gave them days full of learning about the classroom of the natural world, edible wildlife, tracking and survival skills. At the same time as the Naturalist Camp, Muscoot Farm runs an equally unusual experience for kids who want to help run a working farm at its renowned Farm Camp. So popular that kids can only sign up for one week of the camp per summer in order to give the experience to the greatest number of kids, youngsters have the opportunity to milk cows, feed chickens, churn butter and experience the day-to-day life of farm work. There are hundreds of summer programs offered throughout Westchester County and many offer the unique adventures found at places like Muscoot. At the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, they offer a 12-and-older summer dance intensive that focuses on a holistic approach and is specifically designed for the beginning or intermediate dance student. “I found that there was a need for this,” explained Jayne Santoro, dance school director. Parents were calling looking for programs for teen students who were inter-

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ested in learning more dance, but hadn’t started at a young age and wanted to be in classes with students of their same age and ability level. Santoro also runs a Dancin’ and Prancin’/Mini Manet program for children ages 3 to 5 that “stretches their muscles and artistic impressions” with a half-day dance and art program. If your child’s forte is fashion, the JCC of Mid-Westchester will also offer a new program this summer that is out of the ordinary. A week at Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan is a unique design experience for middle school children, who will take a class at FIT for four mornings and then have an afternoon outing in New York City’s fashion district. Classes will include digital photography, rendering fabrics and fashion trends, among other subjects. Some camps focus not only on unique programs, but the specific strengths of each gender. Next Level Day Camps in Larchmont offers a boys-only camp held at Iona Prep and a girls-only summer program held at The Ursuline School, both in New Rochelle. One of the more unusual experiences it offers includes the opportunity for campers to go behind the scenes at a local radio station and produce their own weekly radio show, learning on-air broadcasting skills and production techniques, and developing a live show complete with commercials

and news announcements. The elective class is one of many unique program offerings at Next Level Camps, which Ed Metzendorf said he “founded in 2015 to empower children through a skill-based program that builds character and confidence and teaches leadership and life skills.” Metzendorf believes offering “singlegender camps allows children to be their best self and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment that encourages exploration. Uninhibited children are free to develop their talents and life skills, try new activities or pursue their passions.” In keeping with the school’s mission at Iona Prep, the school offers an unusual summer experience for Iona Prep students: a father-son service trip to Peru. “It is a great way for dads to get to know their sons better and for sons to see their dads in a different light,” said Brother Thomas R. Leto, president of the school. “Any time we can get our kids out of their neighborhoods, to see a different reality out of Westchester County, it is a benefit.” The group spends several days building houses in Lima for those in need and also has the opportunity to explore sights like Machu Picchu before returning home, hopefully with new perspectives on each other and the world. “When they come back, they are changed,” Leto said. “And so thankful

for what God has given to them, and more willing to share their bounty with others.” Service trips are high on the list of requests Ellen Wylie of Spectacular Summers in Edgemont receives. A camp referral agent, Wylie helps families find the right overnight and day camp experiences, free of charge and with no obligation. (Like a real estate agent, she said, she is paid fees by the programs themselves.) She has spent more than 15 years visiting camps and weeding down her list of recommendations to what she thinks are the best. “Your child might explore a new interest, a new passion, something outside the box,” she said of her recommended programs, which include internship experiences, fashion, art, STEM, sustainability and adventure travel. “There is a value in an adventure trip where a kid takes a personal challenge. They develop confidence, team-building and prepare to be more independent when they leave the nest.” If a traditional overnight camp is still what’s sought, several offer unusual elective programs that kids can add on to their experiences. This summer, Curious-on-Hudson, based in Dobbs Ferry, will lead a Tinker Camp at partner Camp Louemma in Sussex, New Jersey, for campers ages 8 to 15. While enjoying all of the regular sleep-away camp experiences, Tinker campers spend three hours each day working on projects that incorporate design, engineering, use of tools and the environment to explore and create. “We think of ‘tinkering’ as exploring in an informal way, where one thing can lead to another or one bit of learning can be used to expand upon another,” said Adele Falco of Curious-on-Hudson. “We think of this as a program where the kids will have the chance to figure things out for themselves, without a script, without a kit, without an adult telling them what to do next. We’ll be there to guide them as they go, make suggestions, coordinate the project as a whole, but give them room to explore and play, struggle and analyze, and ultimately, learn what it takes to do something they previously thought was impossible for them to do.” And really, isn’t that what summer should be all about?

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