My blog has moved to my new site!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks. Thanks!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Registering for Public School Sept. 2009

This information is from the DOE's website.
Elementary or middle school: Register at your zoned school starting on Wednesday, Sept. 9 (the first day of school). Call 311 or try the search at the DOE website to determine your zoned school. If you don't have one, visit a Student Registration Center in your borough of residence beginning Monday August, 31.

High School: Register at a Student Registration Center in your borough of residence beginning Monday, August 31.
The Centers will be open Monday - Friday 8am - 3pm from August 31 to Sept. 18. Closed Sept. 7 for Labor Day. Translated materials and interpretation services will be available at all Centers. Check out the DOE's new student page for documents that you will be required to bring.

Brooklyn High School for the Arts
345 Dean St. between 3rd and 4th Ave.
Clara Barton High School
901 Classon Ave. east side of the Brooklyn Museum between Union and President
The Montauk
4200 16th Ave. at 42nd St. Brooklyn
Brooklyn Technical High School
29 Fort Greene Place (enter on South Elliott) between Dekalb and Fulton

PS 46 just called with a registration update for their school.
They are holding early registration Sept. 1-4, 9am to 1pm. The parent or guardian should come to school with the child's Birth Certificate, immunization records, proofs of address and their ID.
They will also be holding an evening meeting for parents of enrolled students to meet teachers on the evening of Sept. 10.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

High School Shortlist Workshops

Bring the DOE High School Directory and come away with a folder containing a short list of schools so you can face the fall with confidence. I lead you through the directory with a pair of scissors, information, strategies and tips on keeping your wits about you while finding a good fit school for your child. Reservations Required.

Saturday, Sept. 12, 10am - noon at Brooklyn Creative League 540 President St. 3rd Fl. (between Third and Fourth Ave.) near the M/R Train
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 7 - 9pm at Hootenanny Art House 428 15th St. Brooklyn at 8th Ave. near the Prospect Park stop on the F Train

If you would like to host a HS Short List Workshop in your home, gather at least 5 other families. As a thank you for organizing, your admission to the workshop is free. $40. for parents, $10. for students Bring your Directory and I will supply everything else.
for reservations:

Friday, August 14, 2009

PS 133 at St. Thomas Aquinas School

The Brooklyn Paper reported back in June that PS 133 would be housed in the St. Thomas Aquinas School building while construction was done further north on 4th Ave. The school building has been underutilized for a few years now and I have watched in anticipation as the porta-potties and cranes moved in. I stopped by this morning and filled in a couple of details.
The DOE has the lease for at least 3 years. The building is very well built (as you can imagine considering its vintage) and the construction authority has been making an investment in it. A lot of good work has apparently been done to upgrade it. The work will be finished by Sept. for the first day of school. The building should also have a wireless network. I also inquired about any news on the new construction at the 133 building. I will be sorry to see the graceful old building and beautiful garden go. One new thing that I hadn't heard was that the architects where hoping to include as much of the old detail as possible in the new project. This certainly doesn't address the neighborhood's other many issues with the project.

What happens to the St. Thomas Aquinas school building in three or four years after 133 moves on? There has been talk of an art center there, which would be wonderful. I would love to see a public early childhood center that could relieve the PreK and K overcrowding that is happening all along the 4th Ave. corridor.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Preparing for Middle School: 2

Are you worried that your sweet darling is going to turn on you without warning the minute puberty kicks in? I can't help you with that, but I may be able to warn you about a couple of things that may give you a slight edge in the situation.

Your 6th grader doesn't have to have instant computer communication with all of their friends. This communication does seem to be necessary when they are a bit older, but in 6th grade they need to figure out how to deal with their new life and time management. Too much unregulated access (and do you want to be the policeman?) is a giant sink hole of problems. If it is difficult for you to self regulate your time on Facebook (you know who you are), it is impossible for your child. You have the power to choose what comes into your home. I just advise that you make conscious choices at each step along the way. Consider whether it is wise to have a computer in their room. This is not necessarily a trust issue. How many times have you looked up from the computer and it was three hours later and you had no idea that time was passing (I am doing it right now!). The time will come when they will go to bed after you are long asleep, but right now they are the ones that really need the shut eye. They are so much nicer when they get it.

That brings up the fact that they look old, but in many ways they still have the same needs that they did when they were toddlers. Sleep, eat and read aloud should be your mantra. They grow when they sleep and they are growing inches every day. Studies show that US teenagers are chronically sleep deprived. I am mean when I am tired (really, don't cross me!) and they will be too. Why go there?

Feed them right away when they get home from school, something healthy with complex carbs or protein. They probably had lunch at 10:30. They are HUNGRY. Feed them before you ask about their day or they will bite your head off.

6th graders have a lot to deal with (more on that in the next "preparing..."). A funny thing happens to many of them. They occasionally take up a little baby language, they climb their giant 5' frames onto your lap, they form a sudden nostalgia for their "childhood". While they are desperately trying to be older, they are also uncomfortable with letting go of the familiar. This is why it is nice to stay friends with kids that are not going to your middle school. They have to be cool with their school friends, but they can be their old selves with their old friends. Don't get rid of all of the Legos or stuffed animals just yet.

They may not want to talk about their day when they get home. A parent can look pretty lame in the cold light of day, but at night, when they are cozy in bed and the lights are low, you look like their beloved moms and dads again. Everybody likes to be read aloud to. If you keep doing the bedtime reading (or start back up) you will be amazed at what happens. First the books just get better and better. But you may find that you don't spend much time on the books. You may end up just talking, and the longer you can keep that tradition going the better.

Happy reading!

Preparing for Middle School: 1

I always waited for the first day of school to get the teacher's list of supplies. Then I would go to Target or Staples and wait in an endless line for the last of the stray, wrinkled, stepped on notebooks that nobody else wanted. I wanted to go in mid summer when the pretty notebooks were out, but NYC starts school so much later than any other district that when I was on vacation in other states, the shelves were clear by mid July. I just went to Staples yesterday and got my gross of $.19 pocket folders and you can too, before they are all gone.

Here is a shopping strategy for the parents of rising 6th graders ready for their first year of Middle School. It is a tough call because your tween will want to wait to see what everyone else has. They may also want the giant binder with pockets and subject dividers for the first time. These will not go to waste even if their teachers don't require them. They will use them all sometime unless they become plastered with Jonas Brothers stickers which will render them "gross" and outdated in 6 months.
This is what you should get:
  • the tried and true marble composition books one for each subject (and lots of extras)
  • pocket folders for each subject
  • spiral notebooks with perforations so that the pages can be torn out without the fringe
If you go shopping now you can find colorful (actually attractive) composition notebooks. Get them in different colors for each subject, red for ELA, blue for math, green for science etc. Then get the corresponding colored pocket folders and spiral notebooks for those subjects too. That way when the books are strewn all over the living room at 7am and your child only needs science and ELA that day, he can easily see what needs to go into the backpack. If they are all the same color or random designs imagine the horror (and notes home that he doesn't have his work in class).
  • pads of graph paper for math (some have 4 sq. per in. on one side and 5 on the other so that you have all bases covered)
  • lots of #2 pencils, a sharpener, and some mechanical lead pencils for math
  • colored construction paper, glue sticks, markers of all kinds (you thought the projects would stop?!)
  • extra poster board (white and in color) and a spare tri-fold card board display (thanks Felicity)
  • lots of extra printer paper and many extra ink cartridges
Middle school is when the computer becomes a part of your child's body. I have a couple things to say about this. ALWAYS HAVE AN EXTRA INK CARTRIDGE IN THE HOUSE. Oh yes, you will use the last one and think, I will reorder that in a couple of weeks like I normally do, but a week later at midnight when the giant social studies project is due, suddenly there will be no ink, because your child spent the last week printing out multiple copies of different size pictures of civil war uniforms that they didn't use. Hear me now or suffer the consequences. Always have at least one extra cartridge and ream of paper in the house. Always.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Intro to Nursery School Talk

I will be talking about
* nursery school philosophies
* what to look for on a tour
* what you need to know to keep the search under control and in perspective
* Lots of Q&A.

I won't be discussing individual schools at this event
$20. for an individual /$30. for a family

Tuesday, August 11 at 7pm - 8:30pm
at NYC Explorers 388 Atlantic Ave. (between Hoyt and Bond)

Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 10am - 11:30am
at Hootenanny Art House 15th St. (@ 8th Ave. Brooklyn)

Thursday, Sept. 24 at 7pm - 8:30pm
at Still Hip 283 Grand (between Lafayette and Clinton Pl.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Dad; living green

I just need to brag on my dad who turned 80 this year. He and my mother moved to a "community for active seniors" a couple of years ago and he joined the model sailboat club.

My father was an art teacher, librarian and school audio/visual supervisor, but mostly he has been a lifelong user of recycled materials in an effort to have more fun. He made kites out of the Sunday funnies. He once attended a costume party wrapped in bubble wrap with a hidden tape recorder that played heavy breathing sounds. His office and library were decorated with objects that he found or created and we couldn't wait to visit to just hang out in the environments that he made. Give him an afternoon, some toilet paper tubes and a solar battery and stand back. I joked when they moved to Greenspring that there would be a pile of "hall walkers" who had coronaries in front of their door when his motion sensitive, kinetic sculpture jumped out and said "HELLO!" (My mother, a minimalist, decided on a less stressful option)

His sailboat club, located a few miles from the Pentagon, is full of former Navy guys. When my father joined, he began experimenting with different sail materials, and winning races. Imagine the uproar when he showed up with the non-regulation red nylon (which helps him actually see his boat from across the pond). The ultimate triumph occurred the other day when he showed up with a sail made from the wrapper of a Costco bushel of paper towels. Needless to say, he cleaned up in his races that day.