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Can cramming be avoided? By EVE MARX


e’ve all been there: it’s the night before a big exam or college or graduate school qualifications test and we’re frantic, attempting to absorb the mass of information we know we should have learned over a prolonged, steady period of time. As horrible as those up-all-night cramming sessions may be in our memory, it’s even more painful to relive the feeling again watching our offspring repeat the process. Some of us, unfortunately, never truly abandon the practice of cramming and as adults find ourselves force-feeding information into our brains throughout our entire professional lives, cramming the night before a big presentation, an important interview or any time at all when the pressure’s on to show our mastery of any subject. The term “cramming” is a slang word that’s been around for a long time. The British also call the same behavior “mugging” or “swotting.” No matter the subject, cramming is the practice of working intensively to absorb large volumes of informational material in a short amount of time. And while many students resort to cramming the night before a test, the practice is generally condemned by professional educators because hurried coverage of material tends to result in poor long-term retention and an inability to fully master content. While cramming is most popular with high school and college students, they’re hardly alone doing it. With academic performance pressure now trained on even the youngest students, children as young as 5 or 6 are now often subjected to cramming, largely by their own parents. What’s more, the practice of cramming is so widely assimilated into the culture, dozens of sites on the Web, including YouTube, offer videos on the best continued page 6a

Inside... Ready for kindergarten? Your child, your decision ...............3A Online learning: The growth of digital classrooms ............... 7A College move: The why, when and how of transferring .......8A Learning language: Bolstering second-language skills at every age .................................... 10A Education Notebook .. 16A-19A




his year, an in-state student attending one of the State University of New York (SUNY) colleges will pay about $21,000 in tuition, room and board, and expenses. A student attending Colgate University, a private liberal arts college in upstate New York, will pay over $55,000. An out-of-state student attending a large state school such as the University of North Carolina will have to come up with about $41,000. Those are the costs for this year. College costs are rising at between 5-8 percent per year, outstripping the rate of inflation. At this rate it will cost half a million dollars or more to send today’s toddlers to

Harvard. Are average families really expected to come up with this kind of money? The answer is, they are — and they aren’t. According to the College Board, about 2 out of 3 full-time undergraduates get some kind of financial aid, generally a combination of grants, scholarships, loans and jobs. Federal loans account for about 39 percent of all financial aid dollars. But families who don’t want their kids to be saddled with enormous loans need to think about saving. It’s never too late, and it’s also never too early. The sooner the better “At the rate costs are going up, families can’t even keep pace,” said Tom Ausfahl, principal at Greystone Wealth Advisors LLC continued page 4a

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The riverTowns enTerPrise/ Page 3a

Ready for kindergarten? Your child, your decision By MARy LEGRAND


sk pretty much any parent of a preschooler and they’ll say they’ve heard, at least once, that holding a child — particularly a boy or a youngster with a late birthday — back from starting kindergarten at the “normal” time will give him or her an edge when it comes to socialization, academics and sports. A number of child development experts, including some Westchester educators, say there can be advantages, but there are also points to be made on both sides of this rather long-ranging debate. (Several years ago we ran a story from the elementary schools’ point of view and the consensus was that if the kids are of age, they are ready.) Some of the educators of youngsters interviewed for this story said they’ve been approached by parents hoping to hold a child back; others say they’ve never been in that specific situation. Underlying the issue are the confusing differences in age restrictions for children entering kindergarten — the cut-off dates change from school district to school district, state to state. Karen Potz, director of the South Salem Nursery School, said in her 20 years at South Salem she’s never been approached



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by a parent who said, “This is what I’d like to do with my child.” Instead, Potz said, “I’ve had parents come in to ask us what we thought of a child’s readiness. Parents might repeat the statement that holding a child back gives that child an edge or is better for sports — they kind of repeat what’s out there — but I can’t really say it’s been a motivating factor for parents bringing up the subject.” Potz, who says she comes from a “developmentally ready point of view,” acknowledged that some 4- and 5-year-old

preschoolers who might not be ready to enter kindergarten “just send out huge red flags. It’s nothing to do with intelligence, but perhaps socially they’re not all that comfortable. They might feel a little bit overwhelmed still in preschool, so the next step, in September, can be very frightening for them.” The parent of four grown children, Potz likened children entering kindergarten at one age only to the ability of all 20-somethings to be at the same place in their careers or social lives.

“It’s very hard for these little ones,” she said. “I don’t know of any other area where everybody has to step up and be the same at the same point of time — like on Sept. 1 of your 28th year you have to have achieved this.” Teachers and administrators at South Salem Nursery School work with the Katonah-Lewisboro School District to ensure as many preschoolers as possible are up to speed before entering kindergarten in the district. “We meet with the kindergarten teachers, have workshops to stay on top of how the elementary school curriculums are changing,” Potz said. “In the 20 years I’ve been at South Salem the New York State regulations have changed dramatically, and these changes have been passed down to the school districts.” Children who “won’t have playdates or won’t go places with their daddy are on the radar screen for kindergarten readiness,” Potz said. “Sometimes parents listen and sometimes they don’t. I really do believe that parents have to go with their feelings, their gut reaction about their own child. In my time at South Salem I’ve never had a parent come back to me and say it was a mistake to hold the child back, but I have had parents come to me and say they wish they’d listened, because the child is now struggling.” Diane Chevian, in charge of primary classes and admissions coordinator at Hudson Country Montessori School in continued on page 12a

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The plan to pay for college Continued from page 1A

in Mount Kisco. “Given what college costs are today, it’s pretty hard for most parents to foot the bill. Very few people are able to raise 100 percent of what they need for college. The sooner you can start saving the better.” Try this scenario: According to the nifty college savings calculator on the website Savingforcollege.com, suppose your child is a year old and you want to have enough money to send him or her to a college that costs $50,000 a year today. Let’s say you assume that college costs are going to increase by 6 percent each year and that you will earn 3 percent after tax each year in your savings fund. Under those assumptions, you would have to contribute $2,111 monthly every year for the next 17 years. If you think your savings fund will earn more, you can figure on contributing less. And if you decide up front that you’ll try to save only enough for in-state tuition at a public college, you won’t have to put away nearly as much. How they figure it When today’s high school seniors were born, few people would have imagined that college costs would increase as quickly as they have. So it’s not surprising that even the most well-thought college savings plans tend to fall short of present-day costs. Parents looking at college costs for the first time are sometimes shocked by the charges at even a public university. But what can be even more unsettling for parents is what happens when they enter the world of financial aid applications. Not only do they have to lay bare all their most private financial information, but they are then told what amount they’re expected to contribute. The amount of college expenses that a family considers “affordable” can be very different from what a college thinks they should be paying. Even colleges who say they will meet a student’s demonstrable financial need are talking about what they

think the applicant needs, not what the applicant thinks. The bottom line: family contributions are pretty much a mandatory element in college financing as far as colleges are concerned, although the amount expected from each family certainly varies. The first step is filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA asks questions about family and student income and assets, and family size. The information on this form is used by colleges to calculate the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. Applicants must submit a FAFSA with parental financial data in order for a dependent student to be considered for financial aid. There are very few special circumstances in which the parent’s financial information would not have to be reported on the FAFSA — for example, if the parents were in jail, could not be located or if the student had been in an abusive home situation and this can be documented. A parent’s refusal to supply the information, or saying they refuse to pay for college at all, are not considered acceptable special circumstances. Colleges calculate the student’s financial aid award by taking the difference between an admitted student’s EFC and the amount needed for tuition, room and board, supplies, etc. This award is usually a combination of outright grants, loans and work-study jobs, and the amount is generally adjusted to reflect other outside scholarship awards (such as merit scholarships that the student may receive). The student has no control over the EFC figure that each college arrives at, and he or she has no say in the proportion of outright grants to loans to jobs that will make up the award package from each college. When the EFC is calculated, families are expected to contribute different percentages of different assets, and these percentages are further adjusted according to income. For example, a student is expected to contribute 20 percent of his

assets and 50 percent of his income. But between 2.6 percent and 5.5 percent of a family’s assets (based on a sliding scale) and 22-47 percent of parents’ income (also based on a sliding scale) are supposed to be contributed. In calculating the parents’ assets, the value of retirement plans such as IRAs and 401Ks, the equity in your primary home, a family-owned business, insurance policies and annuities are excluded from parents’ assets. The EFC is also adjusted to reflect the number of children in the household, with particular emphasis on how many children will be in college at the same time. Ways to save Many parents open a special savings account called a “529 plan” to pay for their child’s college education. You can set up a 529 account for an infant and keep contributing to it until the child reaches college, or you can set up a 529 plan later. But the longer you save, the more the money can grow. “A 529 plan is a college investment plan sponsored by a state,” explained Ausfahl. “All states sponsor their own 529 plans.” Families living in New York can have a New York 529 plan and use it for their child to attend a college in any state. New York families can also contribute to a 529 plan sponsored by another state and use it for the student to go to college in any state. There are no income limits for 529 plans. “You can contribute to a 529 plan and it is considered an asset of the parent,” explains Ausfahl. This means that when a college is computing the family’s expected contribution, the funds in the 529 would be considered at the parent asset rate, a maximum of 5.5 percent, rather than the 20 percent rate of student assets. When the child reaches college age, the growth in the funds is tax-free, and the money can be used for qualifying educational expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies and equipment. Recent changes to the law al-

low computers to count as a “qualifying” expense. 529 plans are administered by investment companies, such as the New York plan administered by Vanguard. The plans have underlying investments that can perform better or worse according to market conditions. Some plans are agebased when it comes to the amount of risk. “As you’re getting closer to college, you dial back the risk and become more conservative,” explains Ausfahl. For example, when the child is small, the parents might direct more of their 529 savings to go into stocks, which carry more risk; as the child enters high school, the funds can be shifted into more conservative investments. It should be noted that 529 plans are not FDIC-insured. It’s important to study the fees and expenses involved with the 529 plans offered by various programs. Sometimes these can amount to a difference in thousands of dollars earned over the life of the account. While it’s possible to invest in any state’s 529 plan, says Ausfahl, “The benefit [for New Yorkers] in a New York plan is that you can get a state tax deduction for the amount you contribute to the 529, up to $10,000 per family on your state tax return.” A 529 account is usually established by parents for the benefit of a child, but it can be established by grandparents or other relatives too. Note that the IRS says that total contributions for one child cannot exceed the amount necessary for the qualified educational expenses of the child. If the child doesn’t use all the money in the account for college, it can be used for graduate school. If your child doesn’t go to college or if you take the money out of the account for some other reason, the earnings are subject to taxes and potential penalties. Parents should also take their future Continued on the next page

Friday, January 20, 2012

Continued from previous page

situation into account. “How much does a parent contribute to the kids’ 529 vs. what parents need for their nest egg in retirement?” Ausfahl asks. He notes that some clients who are deciding how much to put in a 529 plan may opt to build in the assumption that their kids will take on some sort of loan that they will pay back themselves. Other resources Savings aren’t the only potential source of college funds. Ausfahl notes, “There’s a $13,000 per person, per year gift limit, so grandparents or other relatives could give $26,000 as a couple to a student. But payments made directly to a university don’t apply to the gift limit.” It should be noted that making a gift of cash to a child rather than paying the money directly to the school would mean that the gift money would be counted on the FAFSA as the child’s asset, and the EFC would be calculated accordingly. Some middle-class and upper-income families find that the EFC is more than they are comfortable paying, and decide to take out loans above what the college’s financial aid package is offering. Loans such as Stafford and Parent PLUS are examples of federal education loans that are available without regard to financial need. There are various other state and local programs aimed at encouraging people to save for college. Some programs match low- and moderate-income parents’ contributions to their children’s 529 plans. Other programs provide “seed money” — a contribution that could range from $100 to $1,000 — when parents open a 529 plan before a child’s first birthday.


There are also programs known as “IDA” or Individual Development Accounts that are aimed at helping low- and moderateincome people save for school and other purposes, by matching their contributions to certain savings plans. A college savings program open to virtually anyone (even people who haven’t had kids yet) is the UPromise program. Under this program, which is administered by Sallie Mae, you sign up online and register one or more credit cards. When you use the linked credit card to make a purchase at participating businesses, such as gas stations, pharmacies, supermarkets, restaurants and online merchants, the business automatically makes a contribution to your UPromise account. The amount that the partner merchants will contribute to your account varies. For example, you can earn between 1 and 25 percent of your online purchase at about 800 Internet retailers such as BestBuy.com, Walmart.com, Crate & Barrel, Target, Barnes & Noble, etc. About 9,000 restaurants participate, with contributions up to 8 percent. Most major supermarket and pharmacy chains, such as A&P and CVS, participate. You can use the funds in various ways: for example, you can invest in a high-yield savings account or a tax-advantaged 529 plan, or you can request a check to use for educational expenses. If you make most of your everyday purchases using a credit card, UPromise can be a great way of saving for college with what is essentially free money. The money earned in the account never expires, and there is no limit to how much can be earned. And if you have already graduated from college, UPromise funds can even be used to pay down eligible student loans.

The rivertowns enterprise/ Page 5A

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Study skills: Can cramming, all-nighters be avoided? Continued from page 1A

ways to do it. Dr. Patricia Wagner, director of Katonah Tutoring Club, said cramming can be avoided by better study habits. “With effective study skills, cramming can and should be avoided, as a habit,” Dr. Wagner said. An important reason, especially among teens and adolescents, she said why all-night study sessions and cramming should be avoided is because it leads to sleep deprivation. “Sleep deprivation leads to negative effects on the cortex, the part of the brain which is responsible for storing information,” Dr. Wagner said, citing a 2001 study at Harvard Medical School on the subject. “More than a half hour off a person’s normal sleep schedule may begin to affect memory retention. Cramming also leads to confusing facts already learned and increases stress levels.” And yet, of course, underprepared students will resort to cramming, Dr. Wagner said. “The reasons students cram are overcommitted schedules, fear of failure and low motivation to study when they should be studying,” she said. Among her professional solutions to minimize or eliminate cramming are helping students 1) develop effective reading strategies, 2) use a planner to organize their time and 3) create an organized study space. Learning how to effectively study is key. “You don’t hop out of the womb know-

Overcommitted schedules, fear of failure and low motivation to study are the main reasons why students cram. ing how to study,” Dr. Wagner said. “A problem today is that more kids have less intellectual curiosity. But I say master the material and the grades will follow. Study habits should be ingrained by the end of third grade.” On the issue of cramming, Linda Salomon of Elite Tutors in New Rochelle

said, “Being organized and prioritizing is the most important thing.” While Elite Tutors is a service that works with students of all ages, Salomon herself specifically works with students in first through fifth grade. “I tell parents to get a big calendar to keep in a public place in the house, like the kitchen, and as soon as the child finds out from the teacher they have a test or a paper to write, the date is written on the calendar,” Salomon said. “That way, the child can work backwards from there about preparation.” She said a week before or two weeks before the deadline is the time to begin going over vocabulary words, making study cards or preparing the outline. Salomon recommends that parents encourage the child to do a little work on the project every day. Another strategy Salomon suggests is putting short study note information on Post-Its™ and sticking those notes around the house, for example on the bathroom mirror or the headboard of the child’s bed or anywhere the child will regularly see it and be able to read it and absorb the information. “Little bits of information are easier to take in a bit at a time,” Salomon said. This sounds like a handy way to absorb tricky bits of about-to-be-tested-on information, like important historical dates. Salomon is also a fan of getting a good night’s sleep before a test, especially a

major test like a state-mandated exam or the SATs. “And the child should absolutely eat breakfast, that morning, too,” she said. “They need the food to fuel their brain.” It is Salomon’s opinion that it’s not possible to cram for a test like the SATs anyway. “You can’t possibly learn that volume of information in one night and really own it,” she said. “But once you really understand the information, you’ll be more successful at the test. Unfortunately everyone today is geared to the idea of how much you can do in so little time.” Professionals agree that the best way for students to avoid cramming is to learn the tools and rules of effective studying. These rules are, in short, to leave yourself enough time to learn the information. When studying, stay focused. This can be especially hard for adolescents as it means not answering the phone, texting or responding to emails when studying. Studying while watching TV should also be discouraged. Last, but not least, help your child create a conducive study environment. A quiet place with no distractions is best. If that’s not possible or feasible in the home environment, consider enrolling your child in an after-school tutoring or homework program where his or her study time is supervised. For older children, there’s always the library — just as long as your teen has pledged to tuck the cell phone away.

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The rivertowns enterprise/ Page 7A

Online learning: The growth of digital classrooms By LAURIE SULLIVAN New Yorker John Riefler is enrolled at Northeastern University’s two-year M.B.A. program in Boston — and doesn’t attend a single class. At least not in the traditional sense of physically being in a classroom. He studies online at home, on vacation, on a plane — anywhere he has access to a computer or mobile device. Wherever and whenever. With the advent of online learning, students like Riefler can earn degrees without being place bound. Working full time at J.P. Morgan as a domestic equity trader, Riefler, 28, signed on at Fordham’s pre-M.B.A. program at Lincoln Center to “see if it was sustainable for four, possibly five years” but found “it challenging to go from work to school” and home again and study. He looked at the alternatives. “A month later I was in my first class” at Northeastern and is now about seven months away from graduating. Riefler said because it’s a full-time program “we have regularly structured classes” that meet a few times a week. He spends three or four hours a night studying, more on the weekends and won’t go out on a Saturday night until his work is done. For Riefler, although there is a lot of work and doing it takes discipline, studying online makes it easier to absorb the information. In college he found it difficult to take notes and keep up with what was being taught. Students in his online classes are scattered all over, including his next-door neighbor who works at NYU Hospital, marines and

the professors are specialists in their fields … their credentials are all very top notch,” Riefler said. “There’s also a great opportunity to share in the heritage of the school and network with alumni. Supply and demand

people on the West Coast, all with diverse backgrounds. He chose the school for several reasons. His firm hires the school’s work-study interns and some were later offered full-time positions, so he had a chance to work with them and gauge the quality of the school. He also had friends who had gone to Northeastern whom he respects. Being a large school, it has a dedicated career center with strong,

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established relationships with employers — a plus for him, he said, if he were ever out of a job. Comforting to know the school has that support in place. Another big plus is that if a class has 50 students, there is a lead professor and assistants who can respond to emails within hours and not wait days to see a professor when he or she has office hours. “The thing about these programs is that

The advent of distance or online study is growing and evolving at breakneck speed as technology changes and demand for it grows. Dr. Janet Sullivan-Wilson, a professor at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Science Center College of Nursing who teaches psychiatric nursing, explained that they have been doing distance learning since the 1990s, the first department at the university to do so. When the University of Phoenix started advertising in Oklahoma for a program for nursing students back then (rural areas needed health care providers) this served as the impetus for University of Oklahoma to develop their own. Within nine months they had an undergraduate nursing program up and running and now offer doctoral programs. In fact, that is all she teaches now. “At first we offered a hybrid, asking students to come to school on weekends and at night to do work and do some coursework online. Over the years as technology got better we could offer interactive learning,” Sullivan-Wilson explained. “Now we use Webcams on computer, so students can have classes with the professor in real time. The Continued on page 14A

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The why, when and how of transferring colleges By JACKIE LUPO


ransferring colleges is complicated, fraught with hidden difficulties and the solution of last resort… right? Yet according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), about 1 out of 3 college students at two- and fouryear institutions will transfer during the course of their post-secondary careers. Many reasons to transfer What’s going on here? For some students, transferring is a chance for a do-over. It can be the answer for students who discover their current college isn’t as good a fit as they thought it would be. Maybe a suburban kid misses the stimulation of a nearby city after a few months on a remote rural campus. Perhaps a student who thought a huge state college would be exciting now realizes she would prefer the small classes and peaceful atmosphere at a small liberal arts college. Maybe the reality of attending college in a different part of the country has turned from an adventure into an unpleasant case of culture shock. Transferring can be a way to realize a newfound dream. Few students know exactly what they’re going to major in when they enter college, but they can discover a passion for a subject after taking one or two courses. If their current school doesn’t offer a major in that subject, or if the school’s program is not top-drawer, transferring makes sense. Transferring can also be a method of damage control. Perhaps your high school grades and SATs were unimpressive and you didn’t get into any of your top-choice schools. If you can get through a few semesters at your current college with great grades, you have the chance to convince admissions officers that you can handle work at their school’s level. When NACAC surveyed college admissions officers and asked them what factors they thought were “considerably important” in evaluating a transfer application, 90 percent mentioned “postsecondary GPA,” 12 percent said “high school GPA” and 7 percent said “standardized tests.” That doesn’t mean schools don’t look at everything in your file. “Kids think their high school records don’t play a part,” said Lillian Hecht, a partner at Collegistics, an independent col-

lege advising group in Scarsdale. “But the closer you are to high school, the more that matters.” The process of transferring from one college to another is not always as easy as applying from high school. “You’re looking for a second set of recommenders among profs at your current college,” Hecht said. “The profs haven’t known you for three or four years as the people in high school did. A student has to be quite motivated to do this and get it done right.” It’s also important to know how likely it is to be able to transfer successfully. How much of what you’ve taken so far is likely to transfer? What are the minimum grades required to receive credit for what you’ve already taken? Will you need to take summer classes, repeat courses similar to ones you’ve already taken or take longer to graduate? Most admissions offices will give you general guidelines about their requirements for majors and for graduation, but they will not tell you exactly which of your courses will be accepted for transfer until after you are actually admitted. Can you ‘transfer up’? “Hopefully, there isn’t a need to transfer; you should have a good match from the be-

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ginning,” Hecht said. But among the realities of the college admission process is the fact that sometimes, even excellent students get left out in the cold. Or they may have been overly optimistic about their chances when they applied the first time. “Maybe they applied in high school only to the Ivies and only got into their safety and haven’t adapted,” said Hecht. “They usually want to transfer to a more prestigious school.” But, she says, “there are very limited spots for transfers among the elite private schools. If you look at the retention rates [the rate at which current students return to the same school each year] among these schools, it is above 95 percent.” Instead of applying to enter as a first-semester sophomore, Hecht notes that there is more flexibility transferring in the middle of the sophomore year, and even before entering in the junior year. “Lots of schools the kids have been rejected from will reappear on the kids’ transfer lists. But those colleges are aware of their records. So they want to know what else they have done. Have they gotten good grades, done independent studies, been involved with activities in college?” Hecht cautions that it’s probably unrealistic to expect to transfer to a college “many

tiers above their current situation. The disparity is too great.” But does transferring from a school that’s ranked No. 30 to a school that’s ranked No. 15 in the college guidebooks guarantee a better outcome in life? “There’s a cachet to very highly ranked, selective institutions,” Hecht said. “But after that, if you’re going to professional schools, your LSATs or MCATs and GPAs are going to matter more.” Planned transfers One of the most frequent reasons for transferring is that the student is in a twoyear program and wants to continue on to a four-year college. “Given the finances of the environment, one of the great reasons to plan a transfer is to go from a community college to a four-year college,” Hecht said. “From a financial point of view, if you’re looking to save some money — especially if you’re not 100 percent college-ready — community colleges have become fantastic resources. Kids get a taste of college, they understand the expectations of higher learning and they move into a four-year college and earn a bachelor’s degree.” Continued on the next page

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Many four-year colleges are transferfriendly. “We offer a flexible core curriculum which allows us to accept the maximum amount of transferable credits,” said the admissions office of Concordia College in Bronxville. At Concordia, grades of C or better are accepted for credit, and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis up until the first week of classes, as long as space is available. Concordia has partnered with community colleges to ease the transition for students. The college publishes information on its website that makes it possible for a student at, say, Westchester Community College, to know exactly what courses to take that will give them junior status upon entering Concordia. At Sarah Lawrence, a highly selective liberal arts college in Bronxville, transferees from community colleges are eligible for merit scholarships. The college will accept for credit any liberal arts course in a discipline that is offered for credit at Sarah Lawrence, and they will accept courses in the fine and performing arts on a case-bycase basis. They do not offer transfer credit for nonliberal arts courses such as business, home economics, real estate or technical and vocational subjects. Community colleges generally make a real effort to help students who want to continue on to a four-year college make the right course choices and present the best possible application. Westchester Community College notes in its information about transferring that “several colleges and universities have been quite generous in providing scholarships specifically to WCC graduates who have competitive grade

The rivertowns enterprise/ Page 9A

point averages.” These include both needbased and merit scholarships. Transferring within the State University of New York (SUNY) system is also considered business as usual. SUNY is considered to be one of the most transfer-friendly public university systems in the country. Each year, 25,000 students transfer from one SUNY campus to another. In recent years, the SUNY system has worked hard to streamline the process so that the state’s community college students find it easier to continue at SUNY’s four-year colleges, and so that courses at various campuses can transfer more seamlessly than in the past. How transfer-friendly is the new school? There are lots of urban legends about some colleges being easier or harder to get into as transfer students. But there’s plenty of research providing real answers to this question. Overall, NACAC surveys have found that it’s actually somewhat harder to get into private colleges as a transfer student. They found that the acceptance rate for transfer applicants was 62 percent, compared to 70 percent for freshman class applicants. But some schools appear to be friendlier to transfers. It’s quite easy to find out which ones, since every college posts on the Internet a fascinating document called the Common Data Set. The document is a form that colleges fill out, giving specific figures for a given year on many subjects, including number of freshman applicants, number of acceptances, number of accepted students who actually attended (also know as the “yield”), number of waitlisted students, number of applicants actually admitted off Continued on page 13A

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Bolstering second-language skills at every age By MARY LEGRAND


he huge majority of Americans who only speak English may be a bit of a laughingstock around the world, but hope could be around the corner in the form of early foreign language training for our youngest citizens. Some schools and language-learning businesses, including a number in Westchester and Fairfield counties, offer classes for children as young as age 2. That’s not the norm, of course, but having these opportunities even for relatively few children may bode well for the future in terms of United States citizens’ dearth of second language skills. Business partners Paula Otero and Rocio Zapatero opened Little Linguists in Scarsdale in September 2011 and already have more than 60 children, ranging in age from 3-11, taking Spanish courses. Otero, from Argentina, and Zapatero, from Spain, offer two kinds of classes: one set for children who already speak Spanish at home and want to hone their skills, and another set for those who haven’t studied Spanish, but want to learn it. “The goal for our native Spanish program, which is targeted to Spanishspeaking kids in Spanish-speaking households, is to become bilingual,” Zapatero said. “They can read and write well and have fluent oral expression.” Children of so-called “mixed language

families” are also welcome and include those who have one parent who speaks Spanish and the other one who doesn’t. “A lot of times those children are the ones who benefit most,” Otero said. “They get exposure to Spanish, but they need more. And even in households where both parents speak Spanish, they have to do everything in school in English and may be losing their skills in Spanish.”

Zapatero and Otero are mothers of trilingual children. Zapatero’s children attend the French-American School and speak English and Spanish at home. Otero’s children speak English, Portuguese and Spanish. Not surprisingly, both women are strong advocates of parents encouraging their children to learn more than English. “We are convinced that it’s important

for kids to start young when they can learn a language really well,” Zapatero said. “We see it in kids who are not in a native household, too. The earlier a child is exposed to a language, the better it is. Our immersion classes have the same principles as our native-speaking classes — we try to make it fun.” Continued on the next page

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The rivertowns enterprise/ Page 11A

Continued from previous page

Language classes beginning in kindergarten and first grade are the norm at the Whitby School in Greenwich, Conn., where Nelyda Miguel is head of school for grades 1-8, dean of curriculum and instruction and International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator. “We’re living in an increasingly global world,” said Miguel, a native of Venezuela. “If we were to ask how many parents think their children might work with people from other cultures and countries, every hand would go up. Being able to understand and be aware of the impact of language and culture is very important. There’s research proving that learning languages affects the way you see the world.” Whitby’s language courses, particularly those for the younger students, are centered around communication, according to Miguel. “There’s a lot of rhythm, music, marching, singing, trying to connect language to what children want to talk about,” Miguel said. “We also follow a natural path of language, first listening and understanding. Only later do you learn to read and write.” By the time Whitby students reach their final year at the school — grade 8 — “they have an understanding of culture and language that is beyond what most children have in this country,” Miguel said, adding that Whitby eighth-graders travel to a Spanish-speaking country and visit fellow IB school students they’ve previously communicated with through social media including Facebook. Whitby plans to start an immersion program for its youngest students in the

future. “The sooner the better with language,” Miguel said. “I know that being exposed to a language enriches one’s life.” Speech pathologist Janet Gordon of Rivertown Speech in Irvington sees students with language processing issues and other problems. “If the child is developing typically, then the earlier the better is the way to go with learning a second language,” she said. But, Gordon said, learning a second language could be confusing for a child who might have issues with processing “why all these sounds are coming from the brain.” Some parents of students with speech

problems, Gordon said, particularly those in households where one adult speaks his or her native language and the other only speaks English, may need to consolidate their efforts and speak English only. In that case, she said, “I really have to say to the parent that English has to be the primary thing, if they want their child to learn the language. Once we establish primary language, yes, start with another language. But you shouldn’t unless the child is really successful in communicating in one language.” This, she stressed, is the case only when there are language development problems in a young child, citing one

case in which “a child was so confused that he just stopped talking. It’s up to us as professionals to make sure there’s one good communicative language. It’s a sensitive issue.” Tim Stark, head of the modern and classical languages departments at the Harvey School in Katonah, has been at Harvey for more than three decades. Harvey students generally range in age from 11-18. All Harvey middle schoolers study Latin and when they get to the upper school may continue with Latin if they choose, or take Spanish or Japanese. Plans are afoot to add Chinese to the curriculum in the future. “A majority of our upper school students choose to take Spanish, for which Latin offers a strong foundation,” Stark said. Studying Latin also provides benefits to students in their English studies. Ideally, Stark said, children as young as 6 months should learn a second language. “I’m an advocate of teaching languages as soon as practical,” he said. “It’s important to help kids understand that English is not the only language in the world. It also helps bring an appreciation of other cultures.” Stark laughed, though, when he recounted the story of one family he encountered somewhere along the way in his education career. “They used to speak a different language — German, French, Spanish — depending on which floor of the house they were on,” he said. “They were believers in their kids learning foreign languages, and that was a pretty good way to learn them. I just wondered what they spoke when they weren’t in the house.”


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Kindergarten Continued from page 3A

New Rochelle, was even more direct when asked about keeping a late-birthday child back from entering kindergarten. “I can tell you what I tell parents all the time: for any child whose birthday is in October through December, you’re giving the child a gift by that extra year, not only just now, but when you think about them in high school and being the youngest socially, then going to college at 17 rather than 18,” Chevian said. The held-back child “can enter first grade socializing more and not having to concentrate on that aspect of life,” Chevian


said. “In my 20-plus years, the parents I’ve encouraged to do that have come back and said it’s been the best choice they’ve done for their child. Other parents who didn’t follow our advice have come back and said they should have held the child back, that he’s not mature enough and not ready.” Chevian said the Montessori philosophy, “to follow the child,” in her words, means there’s not a set curriculum or even level of development all children should reach by the same age. “We have goals,” she said, “and once they reach those goals we can go beyond that, whereas in the public schools some district kindergartens are more academically oriented than others.” Sue Tolchin, director of early childhood

There’s a big difference in three or four months of maturation in a little child. education at the Westchester Reform Temple Early Childhood Center in Scarsdale, said the decision-making process begins with the center’s “excellent relationship” with teachers and principals at neighboring schools. “There is yearly communication, things they want us either to continue to do or to improve on,” she said.

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“We’re all on the same page. My feeling is there’s a huge fear or scare — or need, it seems — in Westchester, not necessarily just Scarsdale, to hold your child back and give them an extra year for various reasons.” Instead, children must be looked at as unique individuals, Tolchin said. “Holding back for various issues does not necessarily guarantee a child’s success later on,” she said. “You have to know the specific things you’re looking at — reading readiness, knowing letters or numbers is not enough of a reason to make a decision one way or another. A boy with a late birthday could be a very bright child, could be a real doer, but he happens to have a November or December birthday or is small. It’s not enough of an edge to hold him back.” There are no proven statistics that holding back “for the wrong reasons” gives a child any future advantage, Tolchin said. Rather, “if a child is having trouble socializing, making friends, listening, transitioning — if they still haven’t developed those kinds of social skills needed by the end of the 4s, then I can share in possibly giving a child an extra year. It’s not that I’m in favor or it or not in favor of it. You have to look at it as one individual case.” Patti Meth, a learning disabilities/attention deficit disorder specialist in Irvington, stressed the disparities in cutoff dates for children slated to enter kindergarten. “We as a country are not unified, and that probably should be analyzed,” she said. “There’s a big difference in three or four months of maturation in a little child. Also whether a child has not grown up speaking English or hasn’t had preschool education can make a big difference as well. “If it is a teacher, educator or psychologist who says a child would benefit from another year of preschool, then there’s usually pretty sound reasoning based on testing they’ve done informally and based on other children they’ve seen at that age level that the child is not up to par socially or in skill development.” Meth said part of the problem with preschoolers is the growing lack of opportunity to develop the social skills typically in place before the beginning of kindergarten. “Life is changing and is so much more stressful than even a few years ago,” she said. “So we have to change with it, but the best things we can give our kids are good feelings about themselves and healthy relationships, or they can have interpersonal problems as well as problems in school.” The decision to keep a child from entering kindergarten should not be the parents’ alone. “The decision has to be among a team, including the preschool director and teacher,” Meth said. “They deal with this all the time.” Tolchin at Westchester Reform Temple Early Childhood Center praised parents who “stand on their own and say they are making their own decisions based on the needs of their child, not on the basis of what everyone’s telling them what to do.” The topic of keeping a child back from kindergarten “is hot and on everyone’s mind,” and probably will continue to be in the future, Tolchin said. “It’s nerveracking, anxiety-producing, and I understand that,” she said. “Life has gotten very competitive, and parents are very savvy today and want their children to have an edge. But there are ways to add enrichment so that holding a child back is not necessarily the way.”

Friday, January 20, 2012


Transferring college

arts programs to require students to take certain courses for the major during the first two years. Any potential transfer students should study a school’s requirements carefully to see if their current school offers the required courses, and if their current school’s courses are likely to transfer. In the worst-case scenario, a badly planned transfer could make it necessary for the student to add summer sessions or even another year of school.

Continued from page 9A

the waitlist, number of transfer applicants and number of transfer applicants admitted. This last figure varies, inexplicably, from one school to another, according to this reporter’s browsing among various school’s Common Data Sets. For example, Northwestern reported that they admitted about 27 percent of freshman applicants but only about 16 percent of transfer applicants. On the other hand, Bates College reported a 16 percent freshman admission rate, and a 23 percent transfer admission rate. Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has guaranteed transfer agreements with dozens of schools including SUNYs and community colleges, as long as the student completes the required courses at these institutions and has a 3.0 average. Of Cornell’s 569 entering transfer students last year, 281 entered this division of the university, and 162 students who transferred to Cornell came from twoyear institutions. On the other hand, it can be much more difficult to transfer into some of Cornell’s other colleges. For example, transfer applicants to Cornell’s College of Engineering must select one or two of the available majors; they cannot apply as “undecided.” Each engineering major has very specific prerequisites for upper-level courses. In fact, says Cornell, “some required sophomore courses do not have equivalents at many other institutions.” Therefore, it’s in the student’s best interest to transfer in as a sophomore; it may be too late. Programs in engineering, the sciences and business are more likely than liberal

Bad reasons to transfer Some situations that seem to make staying at your current college an impossibility are not really good reasons to transfer. “The worst reason to transfer is the boyfriend/girlfriend reason,” Hecht said. “One of the biggest hurdles for freshmen is the adjustment period. People go in with one set of expectations and realize things are not what they anticipated. When a kid doesn’t adapt well, that’s when you have a problem. The boyfriend/girlfriend problem is one of the emotional pieces. One of the pair has made a great adaptation to college and doesn’t want to be tied down, while the girlfriend at X University is pining away.” Another bad reason to transfer is that you broke up with your girlfriend/boyfriend at your current college and you don’t want to keep seeing that person on campus. But is your college really that tiny that your only option is to let yourself be exiled from the college of your choice because seeing your ex is painful? You can’t leave town every time a relationship doesn’t work out. Sometimes the real problem is not with the college itself, but with the student’s readiness for college. “Kids have emotional and other reasons for leaving college,” Hecht said. “One of the



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The rivertowns enterprise/ Page 13A

Tips for transfers • Be positive on your application. Don’t bad-mouth your current school; do talk about the things the school you’re applying to can offer you. • In your essay, give the admissions committee an idea of how you visualize yourself becoming part of the college’s community. • Avoid surprises: find out whether transfer students are eligible for financial aid and whether you are likely to get a financial aid package at the new school that is as good as the one your have at your current school. • If you want to live on campus, find out whether housing is guaranteed to transfer students. • If you are accepted as a transfer student, visit the school at least once, preferably more, and stay overnight if you can. Attend some classes; eat in the dining hall; see what kids do for fun at night and on weekends. Know what you’re getting into before you decide.

reasons kids leave is that they don’t know how to handle unstructured time. For so long, courses and extracurricular activities are prescribed in high school. Now they’re living away from home for the first time. They’re sharing a room, which is not so comfortable. Sometimes parents are aware of these issues, but in high school, parents are able to run interference for kids. When

they get to college, many kids are unable to reach out to people who are there to help them. Many colleges don’t reach out to those kids.” Hecht says some students aren’t ready to handle the freedom in college: “You don’t have to go to classes, most profs don’t take attendance … it’s very easy to fall off the radar. Plus, there are temptations in college such as drinking, partying, going to bars. There are no rules in place, and if the kid cannot set his own limits, that’s when a kid gets in trouble and can fall behind academically and panic. It’s easy to blame the college, if you don’t get to register for the classes you want, but it’s not the college’s fault if you missed the deadline for registration. There’s no one there to look over your shoulder. So some of it is maturation. You need to regroup and get a grip.” Before deciding to transfer, it’s important to ask yourself, “Will things really be different at another school? Is there someone I can talk to here or something I can do to make things better?” For example, it’s possible to encounter the roommate from hell at any school. Maybe the office of Residential Life can work out a room transfer before things get too awful. There’s no need to suffer in silence. If you’re in a good school but things aren’t working out, there may be creative ways to stay in your current school, but remove yourself from the day-in, day-out campus scene for a while. You might find activities, jobs or community service work off-campus. You could spend a semester or year abroad, or take a semester as a visiting student at another college. You might accelerate your program and graduate early. You may just find that things work out without transferring.

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Online learning Continued from page 7A

advantage is that learning can be done at the student’s own pace. Of course students have to conform to a regular semester.” Most of the instruction is interactive. “The advantage is the interaction is between the student and faculty.” They have to write more and faculty can grade them individually or in groups. Quizzes and chats online are used more as learning devices, rather than for evaluation. “Online I can walk them through papers,” Sullivan-Wilson said. “I teach them how to write problem questions. I teach them research. There’s more and more research that functions better online.” Online education works twofold for her students: they are learning content material and they are also learning the technology on how to treat patients online when they go into the workforce. Sullivan-Wilson puts a class syllabus and all assignments online as well as her lectures, which can even be accessed on YouTube. “They can rewind me or fast forward me,” she said with a laugh. She uses podcasts as well which are generally short, maybe 10 minutes and are on a specialized subject, something they can see. “Sometimes when students have little time and something is important, they learn it better” using this format, she noted. “They can have individual appointments, consultations, video conferences, teleconferences. We can go online with the whole class,” she said. “If the video aspect doesn’t work, I say, ‘Make an appointment and come see me.’ We are transitioning into a technological world.”


Students who don’t use technology in their daily lives are often more anxious about studying online. There are tutorials designed by the school’s Information Technology (IT) department for students who have never studied online. When something isn’t working, IT and faculty hear about it from the students and the problem is addressed. IT builds in contingency plans when computers are down. To help prevent cheating, students have to show campus-issued picture IDs, use online user names and passwords and they are instructed not to give out the information. Instructors use a program called “Turn It In” to ensure a student’s paper hasn’t been plagiarized. Off-campus students can take tests that are proctored at places like Kaplan. Sullivan-Wilson had a research student in Iraq, so the military actually proctored the exams. Her department has had students from as far away as Russia and Australia. Sullivan-Wilson said faculty has had to relearn how to teach, and designing a new course can take six months to a year to create. Some faculty balked at the idea of teaching online and left the university for other schools that hadn’t caught up with the trend, but quite a lot have signed on, especially younger, more technologically savvy ones. “I think it’s great, there’s no going back,” said Sullivan-Wilson. “Education is responding to what is going on in our culture. It’s driven by the consumer who wants equal access to information. I wouldn’t go back.” Freedom of choice, lower cost According to Vicky Phillips, owner of GetEducated.com, the country’s largest search engine for online study, there are currently 4 million students getting degrees from accredited higher learning institutions

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At State University of New York schools, 107 degree programs and 4,000 courses are offered — and that’s just one university system! who are predominantly working on creditbearing courses. And that number doesn’t include technical and other trade school students. Some of the most prestigious schools in the country offer either undergraduate or graduate programs or both, including Stanford, Syracuse, Columbia, the New School for Social Research, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth. “The University of California’s general schools have had distance learning for 25 years,” said Phillips, which is how long she has been in the business. The Berkeley campus has recently developed its first complete online program and “a lot of people aren’t happy about it because its such a prestigious school they feel it’s wrong.” Phillips’s site offers a wealth of information on a mix of more than 3,000 accredited undergraduate and graduate schools in its database, including majors offered. It ranks schools and lists four-year tuitions so students can do cost comparisons. Phillips

said the average cost of a four-year online degree is $25,000 at a state school (such as the University of Wisconsin) and $52,000 at a private East Coast school. Oddly enough, schools, especially state schools, continue to charge students for services they don’t use, including parking and athletic access fees, which doesn’t make for happy students. GetEducated.com is now starting to track the growth of Ph.D. programs. At State University of New York schools, 107 degree programs and 4,000 courses are offered — and that’s just one university system! Distance learning: not new, just improved One of the attractions of distance learning has always been — even back in the 1800s long before technology — to bring education to people in remote areas. Thanks to the emergence of a reliable national horseback postal system in the U.S. and U.K. (think Pony Express!), the first organized collegiate system of distance learning in the western world was introduced in the 1850s. In an online paper on the growing popularity of distance learning by Phillips, she noted that in 1890, the University of Wisconsin joined Penn State in developing a Rural Free Delivery postal correspondence program for farmers isolated “by the great expanses” of these two states. Although technology has advanced enormously with the advent of online study, the concept of bringing education to people in remote areas remains true for many. For example, if you live in a rural area — half of the people in this country do not live within a commuting distance to schools — you can Continued on the next page

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Continued from previous page

have access to evolving careers by studying online. That includes forensic psychology, offered exclusively by Westchester Community College. WCC has a “fairly developed program for resources for online learning,” so students can navigate and select an online school. Career counseling is available as well for free or a small fee. Phillips said that New York’s state schools also offer similar programs. GetEducated.com allows a student to compare schools and offers lots of choice. Phillips said: “You can get an online degree in quilting from the University of Iowa. It has the largest quilting museum in the country. People can learn whatever they want to learn about … if you have a special passion or interest” it’s out there to study.” Blended learning Online or distance learning has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, most notably “blended learning,” where schools offer students “seat time” in classrooms and online courses. Phillips said the combination of online learning and class time is most popular with 18-21-year-olds who don’t especially want to get up for 8 a.m. classes. They want convenience and see this as “perfectly normal.” They can see classes on YouTube and iTunesU. “There are lots of integrated formats of learning,” Phillips said. “Most have video and online chats, discussion boards where teachers and students participate in Q&A sessions and students can also make comments. Pros and cons “If you need flexibility, you can’t beat it,” noted Phillips. For people who are working all day and who are raising a family it can


be ideal, which is why it appeals more to women than men. Instructors offer students virtual office hours. And online study tends to be more effective because materials tend to be more standardized; you have to write more to prove that you’ve done the work. Phillips said learning via talking head stand-up instruction can be the least effective way to learn, due to the inconsistencies of a particular teacher and from teacher to teacher. But, Phillips said, online learning is more difficult for most people. There are things people don’t even know about themselves, like time management. People like the idea that they can learn anywhere, anytime, “but most people are used to structured learning.” Phillips said that you “take away that structure, people have trouble doing it” because they are working alone. “We’re motivated by authority, having an instructor look you in the eye, even as adults,” she said. However stand-up instruction is highly dependent on the personality of the professor. Phillips said the most important skills professors can have are a good sense of humor and good communications skills: “People like what they’re familiar with.” “I don’t think anyone saw this coming.” Phillips said. “Our culture is so saturated with the Internet. [It’s] a cultural shift that has to do with attitude. We want what we want and we want it now. Colleges are accommodating this. Education is not ‘placebound’ anymore.” Wilson-Sullivan summed it up this way: “When we started this in the 1990s, there were a lot of naysayers. I didn’t know if this would work, but I said ‘Guys, this is a train that’s coming and we have to get on it.’ And that train is moving faster than anyone in education ever would have imagined.”

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16 North Broadway, Irvington, New York 10533

(914) 591-6614

A 21st Century Pre-Kindergarten School New York State Licensed Member of National Association for Education of Young Children Member of Westchester Child Care Council


Wednesday, February 1, 2012 • 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. and/or call for a tour. Our Pre-Kindergarten is located in a multi-classroom “Home Environment” Setting. Interactive White Boards ~ Smart Boards ~ Laptop Computers Success Maker ~ Computer Assisted Instruction Integrated Phonetic Approach to Reading & Writing Exist goal ~ ready readers Arts and Crafts ~ Dramatic Play Montessori Based Materials and Activities Physical Education in gymnasium Music & Movement ~ Indoor & Outdoor Activities Early drop off ~ Extended Day 2 years 9 months ~ 5 years of age Rolling Admissions ~ All Faiths Welcome

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Education Notebook �

RCS Foundations of Education Series Is it possible to love your children too much? Is it possible to provide for them too well? Is it possible to praise them too much? If you answered “no� to any of these questions (or even if you didn’t!) you will be very interested in hearing what psychologist and author Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., has to say at the next Foundations of Education Series lecture. The discussion will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at 10 a.m. on the Lower Campus of Rippowam Cisqua School in Mount Kisco. Dr. Young-Eisendrath, author of the book “The Self-Esteem Trap,� is a Jungian analyst and psychologist and clinical associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Vermont. “As parents, we have a well-intentioned tendency to drown our children in what is often unwarranted praise, with the aim of building self-esteem� Young-Eisendrath said. This “junk praise,� as Young-Eisendrath refers to it, is creating a generation of self-absorbed children, teenagers and adults who think they’re “special.� As they grow up, they are surprised to find that the rest of the world doesn’t share their parents’ enthusiasm about who they are. Most disturbingly, many of these people are not coping all that well because they have unrealistic expectations of themselves, expectations that make them feel dissatisfied with lives that, to any objective observer, would be very desirable. Contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, telling our kids they’re ordinary can

indeed be the path to healthy self-esteem. Young-Eisendrath defines self-esteem as the ability to accept yourself based on knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. This lecture is part of Rippowam Cisqua’s Foundations of Education Series, informative discussions with experts in the field of education and parenting. These discussions are designed to offer parents insights and strategies for raising successful, lifelong learners and are free and open to the public. They are held the second Wednesday of most months on the Lower Campus of Rippowam Cisqua School at 325 West Patent Road in Mount Kisco. The next and final presentation in this year’s Foundations of Education Series will be held on April 11 at 10 a.m. when Tara Brown will speak on Building Strong Parent-Child Connections. For more information on Rippowam Cisqua School’s pre-kindergarten through grade 9 program and philosophy, or to RSVP for a lecture, contact Susie Danziger at susie_danziger@rcsny.org or 2441292.

Blue Rock School celebrates 25th year Blue Rock School invites parents interested in kindergarten through eighth grade to visit the progressive, independent day school in West Nyack Saturday, March 3, at 10 a.m. Come meet Blue Rock faculty and hear how the vibrant and creative learning environment awakens children’s natural curiosity and fosters

Schechter Westchester tuition offer

a lifelong love of learning. Discover how Blue Rock School’s unique educational approach brings learning to life. Tour space is limited. RSVP to admissions director Beverly Stycos at (845) 627-0234 or at bluerockschool@verizon. net. The school, on a beautiful, 4-acre, wooded campus, was founded in 1987 with the purpose of providing a rich educational experience based on a childcentered and hands-on approach that nurtures children’s innate love of learning, enables them to follow their own natural curiosity, develop as independent thinkers and grow in a dynamic learning community. At Blue Rock School, class sizes are small and students engage in a challenging academic curriculum which is balanced and fully integrated with the arts, nature and play. Blue Rock School also offers a five-week summer play program, which is open to the community. For more information call (845) 6270234 or visit www.bluerockschool.org.

This year, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester is proud to offer a full, four-year merit scholarship to one incoming ninth-grade non-day-school student who demonstrates outstanding academic achievement and would benefit from a Schechter Westchester education. The Schechter Westchester Merit Scholar Program is funded by an “angel� in the community who wishes to remain anonymous. The award, which will be granted to one new incoming ninth-grader every year, helps the school fulfill its mission of providing a superb secular and Jewish education to as many students as possible. As a kindergarten through 12thgrade Jewish day school, Schechter Westchester’s comprehensive, intellectually rigorous dual curriculum empowers and cultivates each student in mind, body and soul. Schechter Westchester’s college preparatory program teaches its graduates to apply their passions, knowledge and skills to the betterment of the Jewish people, the United States, Israel and the ever-changing world. The dual curriculum at Schechter Westchester requires commitment, discipline and love of learning. The eight-hour school day is jam-packed with rigorous college-preparatory classes and intensive Jewish studies — and is then extended by extracurricular, leadership and community service activities. During two months Continued on the next page

Since 1944‌ A Tradition of Excellence

Comprehensive music education for all ages in a warm, familial environment Private instrumental and vocal instruction Four Orchestras • Three Choruses Chamber & Jazz Ensembles



o on an archaeological dig, build your own robot, read important books, learn an instrument, write a play, make a film, or hone your jump shot. Your experiences here will change you— so you can change the world. Take-a-Look Mornings: February 1; February 29; April 2; May 2 9 a.m.—11 a.m. 4th Grade Visiting Day II: Friday, January 27, 9 a.m.—12:15 p.m. Middle School Spring Preview: Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m.—8 p.m.

School of the Holy Child

An independent Catholic School for young women in grades 5-12

2225 Westchester Avenue | Rye, NY 10580 | www.holychildrye.org

Musicianship Classes Performance Opportunities Prestigious Faculty Preschool Center For children ages 3 and 4

Music and Movement Classes

Joan Behrens Bergman, Executive Director

in Dalcroze Eurythmics for 4 mos. to 5 yrs.

25 School Lane, Scarsdale, New York 10583 (914) 723-1169 email us: hb@hbms.org or visit our website: www.hbms.org






Visit us at: EliteTutors.net

“ The EDGE yo ur child needs to SUCC EED!�

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of dormitory living in Israel and Poland in their senior year, students gain additional maturity and independence that prepares them for the challenges of college academics. They prove to be campus leaders with self-sufficient living skills not often found in first-year college students. The application process for the Schechter Westchester Merit Scholar Program includes completion of the application form; a personal essay about why the individual is interested in attending Schechter Westchester and why they consider themselves qualified; recommendations from two teachers and a personal recommendation from an adult other than a parent; and an interview with the selection panel. To apply for the Merit Scholar Program or to start a conversation about your child’s place in the Akiva program, contact Leora Kalikow at 948-8883 Ext. 8149 or lkalikow@solomon-schechter.com.

Games integral at Elmwood Day School What is a game? If you Google the word “games,” you will be directed to an endless array of electronic games, but real games, played by real children, are the heart and soul of childhood. If your parents grew up in New York City, they played street games. They probably played Hit the Penny. It’s a simple game, two players, one small ball and a penny in the middle. Bounce the ball to

your partner. If you hit the penny, one point. If you make it flip, two points. Play to five and begin again. “Now, I grew up in Ohio where we played on slightly smaller streets and in everyone’s yard,” said Jane Arcaya, director of Elmwood Day School in White Plains, “and as an early childhood educator, I continue to love to play games. I love games so much that when my family gets together we roll up the carpet and play hit the penny in our living room. There’s probably a penny under the carpet right now.” At Elmwood, playing games is still one way students learn to get along. Through playing good games, children learn to follow rules, to self-regulate, to wait, to smile, to make eye contact and to listen. They learn to be connected and in the moment with other children. Playing games gives the shyer child the ability to be part of a group without needing to do anything but play the game — there is no more, “Can I play with you?” Numerous studies and organizations support the critical importance of games and play in child development. The Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy of the National Research Council in “Eager to Learn — Educating our PreSchoolers” states: “Young children are highly motivated to play, and play offers the opportunity for self-expression, social collaboration through speech and shared ideas, emotional and social understanding, and self-regulation.” Over the years Elmwood’s faculty has grown in its understanding of the many benefits that playing games offers young

a team approach to personalized college advising

▪ Leslie Berkovits ▪ Ellen Golden ▪ Lillian Hecht ▪ Nancy Michaels ▪ Lisa Rodman

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children, respecting the value of what is happening when children experience the joy of playing great games with other children. A child who can “lose” himself or herself in a game is finding great pleasure and is building a lifelong ability to engage others through play. Because of the intrinsic fun involved in playing a game, children are able to pay attention and follow a sequence of routines and rules. They can wait for their turn and they learn how to win and lose. Children’s “executive function” skills are being developed. Fine motor, gross motor and coordination skills are involved. Children’s social connections are enhanced; their social skills are developing and there is laughter, excitement and enthusiastic involvement. So that Elmwood can offer children these opportunities, the faculty has developed a wealth of games as well as expertise in the art of how to play the games well. There are indoor and outdoor games, large group and small group games, cooperative and (somewhat) competitive games, musical games and chanting games, obstacle courses, station games and street games. Elmwood has integrated games into the math and literacy curricula and has developed an extensive library of research and materials. The games come from many countries; many are timeless classics. At Elmwood, teachers are trained to analyze which games fit the age group, the size of the group and the location and equipment needed, as well as the appropriateness of each game. Elmwood stresses essential game-playing guidelines, such

as making sure that everyone gets a turn. Concerns are addressed, such as fear of losing control of the group. Elmwood is constantly adding to its repertoire and has recently started adding videos of children playing games to the game books so that the teachers can build their own favorite games collection. Each week at Elmwood’s all-school morning meeting, the game of the week is demonstrated. Elmwood continues to offer workshops both at the school and at other school’s sites. For more information, contact Arcaya at 592-8577 or visit Elmwooddayschool.com.

Green Meadow Waldorf enrolling for 2012-13 It’s never too early to begin thinking about your child’s education, and Green Meadow Waldorf School is the perfect place to start. Both the main campus in Rockland and the Early Childhood Center in Tarrytown are currently enrolling for the 2012-13 school year. The Green Meadow curriculum provides students with the ability to step out into the world with a clear sense of purpose and direction, and the tools they need for creative thinking. From early childhood classes to high school, the school takes pride in meeting every step of the child’s development. “By the time a student graduates from our school, of course they are proficient Continued on page 18A

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in the basics: math, science, writing. They also speak at least one language besides English and have spent time in another country; play an instrument; know how to use their hands to make useful things and to grow food; and have explored their artistic skills, all of which inspires confidence,” said Vicki Larson, director of communications and marketing at Green Meadow Waldorf School. “These skills and that confidence make Green Meadow different than any other school out there.” In fact, Green Meadow graduates are known for their creativity and out-of-thebox thinking, and according to the July 13, 2010 “The Creativity Crisis” article in Newsweek, “The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.” To register for the 2012-13 school year, or to learn more about Green Meadow Waldorf School, contact admissions coordinator Patricia Owens at powens@ gmws.org or (845) 356-9715 or visit www.gmws.org. The Green Meadow Waldorf School Early Childhood Center at Tappan Hill School is also currently enrolling. The new school offers a mixed-age nursery/ kindergarten class (serving ages 3-6), as well as parent and child classes for babies and toddlers from birth to 3 years old. Other family events at the center include nature walks and educational film

screenings for adults. Nearly 350 students from 13 counties and almost 90 towns attend the independent Green Meadow Waldorf School in Rockland County. Located about 20 miles north of New York City, the main campus serves students from nursery school through grade 12. Waldorf Education is the fastest-growing independent school movement worldwide, with 300 schools in the United States and nearly 1,000 around the world. The curriculum is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who founded the first Waldorf School in Germany in 1919. Green Meadow offers developmentally based, challenging academic coursework infused with the arts. Students are exposed to diverse disciplines and can choose traditional classes such as modern languages and sciences, while also learning practical arts, such as knitting, blacksmithing and woodworking. The school also limits the use of technology and media for younger students, which is now understood by researchers as essential to the developing brain. Green Meadow Waldorf School is an accredited full member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), an association that strengthens and supports Waldorf schools and informs the public of the benefits of Waldorf education. Green Meadow is also an accredited member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), a voluntary association of more than 140 independent schools in the state of New York.

Mrs. Fallon’s class at Eagle Hill present a class project.

Eagle Hill School: powerful education Parents of children with learning disabilities are often searching for what they fear is an impossible dream. They hope to find a school that offers a specialized education within an environment that is as traditional as possible. They hope to find a school that provides customized learning that suits their child’s strengths and needs. In addition, it would be wonderful if that school’s program also included art, music, athletics and the specialists that their child might need — speech and language therapists, motor training specialists, psychologists — on the premises and included in the tuition. Welcome to Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Conn. Eagle Hill School’s mission is to provide short-term, intensive, academic remediation to help children with language-based learning disabilities devel-

op the skills, strategies and confidence necessary to transition successfully to a more traditional learning environment, typically in three to five years. The admissions process is designed to carefully screen candidates to ensure students will be successful within the program. When children are accepted at Eagle Hill, the belief is that they will do well. For most of the students, learning has been a struggle. That is why the program is not only child-driven, but also child-friendly. Eagle Hill is committed to making learning enjoyable and to providing students with a sense of accomplishment as they make their way through each day. Eagle Hill students are happy to come to school. Eagle Hill holds the belief that everyone can learn with the right kind of intervention. Because Eagle Hill students learn in different ways, teaching methods vary to suit each child. Student skills and needs are assessed continually, and instruction is tailored to accommodate each child’s learning profile. And, since children with learning disabilities often experience difficulty in social skills development, remediation of these skills is also provided. Close communication between teachers, specialists and administrators allows each child’s total program to be consistent, well structured and highly individualized. By the time students leave Eagle Hill, they are well on their way to developing the self-assurance they need Continued on the next page

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to learn, and the confidence to advocate for themselves. Explore www.eaglehillschool.org and watch the five-minute video featuring Eagle Hill students and parents (click on “About EHS,” then on “EHS at a Glance”). Consider scheduling a campus visit, which is the very best way to gain a complete understanding of the Eagle Hill experience. Founded in Greenwich in 1975, Eagle Hill School is an independent, co-educational day school and five-day boarding school enrolling 250 students in grades 1-9 from the tri-state area. The hallmark of Eagle Hill’s curriculum is an individualized, child-driven program, with a student-teacher ratio of 4:1 in the lower school and 5:1 in the upper school. Call (203) 622-9240 or visit www. eaglehillschool.org.

Mohawk School prepares young ones Mohawk Country Day School is a New York State accredited preschool through first grade operating in a homelike, country setting. For more than 60 years, Mohawk has provided young children with a gentle, highly enriched primary education. The school is located on Camp Mohawk’s beautiful 40-acre site in White Plains. Mohawk’s diverse student body enjoys a daily routine of traditional academic and readiness classroom activities combined with the additional benefits of our suburban setting: visits to an onsite farm to feed the animals, apple and grape picking in the orchards, hayrides and tapping maple trees to make syrup. With three themed playgrounds, a large blacktop for bikes and scooter play, a new outdoor play village and expansive ball fields and courts, Mohawk Country Day School has plenty of room for physical and motor development. Regular computer, art and physical education classes are offered. Mohawk is also extremely proud of its unique daily music program with the legendary “Mr. B.” The staff at Mohawk is warm, nurturing and highly experienced. Many of the teachers have been with the school for more than 20 years and principal Carole Bouchier and the directors, the Schainman Family, have been part of the organization for even longer. Choices for children include “Mommy, Me & Mohawk-To-Be” for 2-yearolds and a parent/caregiver; preschool classes for 3-4-year-olds; Mini-K option for children who are chronologically age-appropriate for kindergarten, but would benefit from a “cushion” year; Young Kindergarten, for children with late birthdays, which fosters social, physical and academic success while enjoying a full kindergarten curriculum; and kindergarten and first-grade classes for children ready for a more rigorous educational setting and challenging curriculum. Mohawk students go on to attend prestigious private schools in Westchester, Riverdale and Connecticut, as well as top-rated public schools. Call 949-2635 or visit www.mohawkcountrydayschool.com.

Camp and teen program professional service

What can you do when it’s cold outside and there is still plenty of winter left? Make summer plans for your child or teen. For those parents who have not yet planned for summer 2012, there are wonderful camps and teen programs that still have space. Even if your child will not be going away until 2013, it is not too early to start exploring the possibilities. Ellen Wylie, a professional in this area, has done the research and is happy to share her expertise with you. A mother of three and a former practicing attorney, Wylie spends the summers visiting

camps and programs and the rest of the year speaking with directors. Her broad knowledge enables her to make the right recommendation for each child. The service she provides is free of charge to parents. Wylie loves what she does and it shows. Parents repeatedly thank her for her patience, warmth and the time and attention she gives in getting to know and understand the needs of each child and family she works with. Directors consistently commend Wylie for her thoroughness, professionalism and the care she gives to her referrals. To find that fabulous summer program for 2012 or 2013, call Wylie at 722-2644 or email Ellenatcamps@msn.com.

Education A special section of

The Rivertowns Enterprise 95 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 (914) 478-2787 www.rivertownsenterprise.net

PUBLISHER............... Deborah G. White SECTION EDITOR . ............... Todd Sliss ART DIRECTOR ...........Ann Marie Rezen AD DESIGN ........................Kathy Patti AD SALES ...................Marilyn Petrosa, Thomas O’Halloran, Barbara Yeaker, and Francesca Lynch ©2012 W.H. White Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden without the Publisher’s written permission.

Explore your gifts. Challenge your strengths.

Share your passion.

D-I D8)

Middle School (Grades 6– Wednesday, February 22 at 9 a.m. Please call to RSVP 260 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536 • 914.232.3161 admissions@harveyschool.org • www.harveyschool.org Harvey is a coeducational college preparatory school enrolling students in grades 6–12 for day and in grades 9–12 for five-day boarding.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Profile for The Rivertowns Enterprise

Rivertowns Enterprise Education  

Our annual look at education topics and services including online learning, kindergarten readiness, college savings plans, effective studyin...

Rivertowns Enterprise Education  

Our annual look at education topics and services including online learning, kindergarten readiness, college savings plans, effective studyin...