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Tips For Choosing Summer Camp For Your Child

Tips For Choosing Summer Camp For Your Child

by Laura Pearson, Guest Blogger, Edutude

Perhaps you are running out of ideas for activities to keep your child busy during the summer months. Maybe you want your child to meet other children their age or discover new interests and skills. Whatever your reason for considering sending your child to summer camp, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Consider the Length

When finding summer camps, are you looking for a half-day, full-day, or overnight camp? According to Simply Circle, half-day camps are typically held for around three hours in the morning or afternoon and provide your child with a few hours of activities. This is a good option for children who are attending summer camp for the first time. Keep in mind that you will need to arrange for someone to pick your child up, so if your work schedule isn’t flexible and you don’t have additional support, you might consider a full-day camp. Full-day camps typically last about six hours, with the possibility of before- and after-care depending on the program. The day is typically a little more structured than a half-day, with scheduled activities like swimming, snacks, and lunch. Overnight camps offer some of the same types of activities as a half- or full-day camp, but it is important that you make sure your child is ready to spend a few days, or a week, away from home. The typical age to attend an overnight camp is about age nine, but only you know the comfort level of your child.

Consider the Cost

Summer camp costs vary depending on your location, camp type, and the number of children attending. Day camps are the most affordable option, with Care estimating the cost to range from $100 to $500 a week depending on whether the camp is hosted by a nonprofit or for-profit organization. Specialty or private camps will typically run from about $500 to $1,000 a week, with overnight camps being the most expensive at about $700 to up to $2,000 or more a week. Keep in mind that prices may be higher or lower depending on your situation, but there is a camp budget suited for everyone.

There are ways to cut costs as well. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), summer camps often offer discounts for things such as early registration, full-season, or multiple campers from a single family. Some camps offer scholarships and financial assistance, so be sure to ask if your income qualifies. Local churches, civic organizations, clubs, sororities, and fraternities may also have funds available to help send children to camp. The ACA also encourages parents to ask whether the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs, and look into ways to deduct camp expenses from taxes such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Planning ahead could also be beneficial in financing summer camp. If you know you want to send your child to summer camp, set aside a little bit of money each month. Consider letting your child be involved too by setting up a chore and reward system. The ACA says, “The bottom line about camp costs is that there’s a camp for just about every budget.”

Consider ACA-Accredited Camp

According to the ACA, accreditation is voluntary but assures you that the summer camp is dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for your child by evaluating the camp on up to 300 different standards. ACA accreditation goes beyond standard state licensing requirements and looks at standards such as appropriate staff-to-camper ratios, first-aid facilities, staff training, and goals for camp activities that are developmentally based. To find an ACA-accredited camp, use their website search tool. Regardless of whether the camp is ACA-accredited, make sure the summer camp meets state standards for health, cleanliness, food service, camp staff, and emergency management plans to ensure your child has a great experience at summer camp.

Ms. Pearson believes students can learn more when they have fun doing so. She and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.

Are You A Bad Person For Sending Your Kid To Private School?

Are You A Bad Person For Sending Your Kid To Private School?

By G. Ruga, Editor, Paying for Private School: Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school

A recent Slate article proposed that if you send your kid to private school you are a bad person.

The thesis for this claim is that if every single child to public school they would improve.

No studies or data are presented to back this up.

And she might be right – but convince us!

Will putting more people into a bad system help? Maybe. But why didn’t it help from the previous generation? Or the one before that? Were those parents lazy? Didn’t they use their influence and connections to improve the education system? Is it better?

An alternate approach is creative destruction. In a system where bad actors (second rate phone companies, restaurants that get everyone sick) are allowed to fail and good actors (first rate phone companies, barf-free restaurants) are enabled to thrive, over time, the bias tends towards more good actors.

That is the private school system. A public school can be reformed but, until folks move away it can also continue to operate “as is”. Indeed, private schools put pressure on public schools to get better by their higher performance. I emotionally get the “we all need to go to public schools to improve it”. Then I think of the clogged roads and how teleworking is opting out and improves my circumstances and enables more of a scare resource (roads) to be more available to those who need it.

We can do better than sacrificing a child’s education in the hopes that doing so might improve the over all system. A better use of these energies is to educate the children who need it now.

A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

by Garrick, student at The Woods Academy and guest blogger for Head of School Joe Powers

Today, I was able to work as the Head of School at The Woods Academy. The first words, or phrases, that come mind to describe the day are: fun, interesting, faster than a normal school day, sometimes annoying, but overall, it was a good day.

I learned several lessons today as well. One is that you need to be calm as the Head of School. Second is that you need to learn to say no to people sometimes. Lastly, I learned that I need to be careful sharing my plans because not all can participate sometimes. These were good lessons learned on the job as the Head of School.

There were many highlights from the day. Shaking hands as students entered the back door in the morning was great, even though it was so cold. Teaching PE class was fun. I was also allowed to have a cup of tea while I handed out the birthday stickers. We even learned that we had a student’s birthday listed wrong. So we made the correction. Skipping my classes was fun and having lunch with my friends was great as well.

The biggest challenge I faced was that everyone asked me questions. I think I had received over 100 questions by 11am. The hardest questions were the ones where people asked for certain privileges. I think this is why I learned that it is important to learn to say “no” at times.

Overall, it was a great day. I would recommend that other students should try to be the Head of School for the day. Just remember to smile a lot in this job.


When Art Makes a Difference

When Art Makes a Difference

by Sarah Philip, Art Teacher, Congressional School

My journey began in the Arts and Crafts shack at camp. The seemingly endless supply of beads, gimp, and string for macramé were a delight. Each summer was guided by a caring, creative artist, enhancing and inspiring the community. Formal art classes did not come until Middle School, where I was left wanting to learn more about how to combine my love for textiles and jewelry within a more traditional program. With two grandmothers gifted in embroidery, one who worked for Hattie Carnegie, the other, who created monumental tapestries, I was bound and determined to explore anything involving yarn. The loom in the bedroom of a childhood friend’s mother, an art teacher herself, fascinated me for years until I could finally take a weaving class in college, where I majored in French Literature. How does this personal fascination impact me as an art teacher? The fear I had as an adolescent with scant art skills, left when I explored colors, textures, and patterns in weaving, inspiring me to go back to school years later to pursue art education. I searched for my essence, what I could do to impact the world, even in a small way. Teaching art allows me to exercise my creativity on a daily basis and encourage young children to find success in connecting imagination and process to their experiences.

My parents believed in learning and visiting museums was a regular event. It was not until I was older that I truly appreciated the gift of familiarity with certain artworks. Famous paintings became friends to visit, each meeting a chance to create new memories. Students, too, grow from reexamining artwork, building connections to new learning and skills. In art class, we experience success and failures regularly; it is a safe environment for exploration of mathematical concepts, historical facts, and scientific discoveries.

My parents believed in learning and visiting museums was a regular event. It was not until I was older that I truly appreciated the gift of familiarity with certain artworks. Famous paintings became friends to visit, each meeting a chance to create new memories. Students, too, grow from reexamining artwork, building connections to new learning and skills. In art class, we experience success and failures regularly; it is a safe environment for exploration of mathematical concepts, historical facts, and scientific discoveries.

An informal poll of my current fourth graders revealed that creating art has benefits that are both intrinsic and extrinsic. As art teachers, we experience the joy of sharing what we love and fostering impactful experiences in our students. My students believe that “art makes the world better and not plain!” They find art to be a way to express feelings, destress, and inspire imagination. “You can raw/paint/make anything!” Despite the frenetic pace of school life, my students value beauty, creativity, and actively exploring opportunities to add visually to the world around them.

Old School vs. New School: BASIS Independent McLean

Old School vs. New School: BASIS Independent McLean

By Brett Graham, DC school HUB Correspondent

Today, private schools are seeing a shift backed by research on how students learn best. From that research new schools are establishing themselves to push the needle in a much needed new direction.

There are a few schools newly established or on the horizon of opening that are testing the traditional and even progressive models of education. Over the next several weeks we will continue to highlight some of them, including Blyth-Templeton AcademyFusion Academy, and Acton Academy. Today we will focus on BASIS Independent McLean.

Walking up to the front doors of BASIS Independent McLean, one cannot help but think that awesomely smart stuff is going on inside. Then when you run into Head of School Sean Aiken, you know it to be true. With a look that screams wacky, fun-loving professor and a pedigree to back it up, Sean is the face of a new generation of top school administrators. More from Sean in a minute.

The BASIS.ed model that created BASIS Independent McLean was the brainchild of Dr. Michael and Olga Block, two economists who felt that the American education system lacked challenge and adequate rigor. The result was the creation of BASIS Tucson Primary in 1998 located in Tucson, Arizona. Since then the BASIS.ed brand has spread across the United States with 16 charter schools and 4 other BASIS Independent schools.

The brand’s McLean location opened this past fall in 2016 accepting students age 3 up to grade 10. It will add grade 11 and 12 in subsequent years. The ideal schools size is 800 students. That’s a tall order for a school in such a competitive marketing. In an exclusive interview with DC school HUB, Sean Aiken talks about how they see themselves as different from other area schools. “Our goal is to provide an educational experience that allows our students to perform at the highest international levels, and as not all of our neighbors use those same metrics of evaluation, sometimes it’s difficult to compare.  That said, our curriculum is enriched with challenging content in both the liberal arts and sciences and as we grow we look forward to continuing to evolve to meet the needs of 21st century problems.”

A source who works at an independent school that will compete with BASIS Independent McLean for students, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “You’re darn right we are watching this closely. Our school has a projected 80% plus overlap with who we serve and where they live. Certainly we will see many applicants also applying to BASIS [Independent McLean]. Others are more skeptical of the future of the school. A quick look at our favorite gossip website (who we trolled for weeks until they banded us) has a lot of parents leaving because the school is too rigorous.

The longevity of the BASIS.ed model has yet to be tested. Will it last in the DC area or will it be seen a short-term fad? Time will tell.

To learn more about BASIS Independent McLean click here.

Lending A Helping Hand Might Help When You’re Stressed

Lending A Helping Hand Might Help When You’re Stressed

by Marissa Kushner, Ph.D., Georgetown Psychology Associates

For many of us, we strive for balance among the demands of multiple roles and responsibilities. Consequently, navigating life’s daily stress becomes a part of the routine. While our body’s response to acute stress can be adaptive (particularly when faced with actual threat), chronic activation of the stress response system results in increased risk for several negative physical and emotional outcomes. As such, identifying effective methods to reduce stress, and its associated consequences, is critical.  Interestingly, research has suggested that helping others and engaging in prosocial behavior may mitigate the negative impact of stress.

In a recent article in Clinical Psychological Science, Emily Ansell and colleagues published findings about how engaging in prosocial behavior (in naturalistic settings) impacted adults’ response to daily stressors. Interestingly, Ansell and colleagues found that engaging in prosocial behavior toward strangers and acquaintances (e.g., asking someone if they need help, helping someone with schoolwork) buffered the negative impact of stress on individuals’ mood and mental health.

Notably, the authors acknowledged that it currently is unknown how engagement in prosocial behavior decreases the negative outcomes associated with stress.  However, what is clear is that helping others, even those with whom we do not have a close relationship, is a way to protect ourselves from the adverse impacts of stress.  As we close the door on 2016, hopefully we can reflect on the year ahead and increase our efforts to take better care of ourselves and those around us by incorporating small acts of kindness into our 2017 daily routines.

How to Prepare Your Child for a Private School Visit

How to Prepare Your Child for a Private School Visit

by Liz Yee, Director of Admission, Lowell SchoolPP-Visit.jpg

Congratulations! You’ve done your research, gotten testing and recommendations lined up, applied to a few schools, and maybe even identified a school that feels like the perfect fit for your child and family. Now it’s time for your child to visit the school. The school visit can create some anxiety for kids (and maybe for you, too!). Below are some suggestions to help your child make it through the visit and shine.

Plan your child’s applicant visit well in advance

If you are applying to multiple schools, chances are you will need to schedule your child to visit each school. Read the admissions pages on the school’s websites to get a sense of what is required. Will it include a play visit? A full day of visiting? A Saturday group? Then, get the visits scheduled. This will be tedious, but if you work in advance you’ll have the best choice of visit dates.

A few things to think about:

  • Know your family’s schedule before you book the visit. It’s important to know when there may be some disruptions in your household (Grandma is visiting, Dad is traveling, Mom has some late-night meetings, etc.) and work around those dates. If your child’s routine is in place prior to the visit, your child will be more emotionally prepared to participate.
  • Know your child’s schedule before you book the visit. Is there a field trip coming up? PARCC testing or an exam that your child can’t miss? A class performance? Get this information before you book the visit; it will save you time and hassle of changing times later.
  • It might be tempting to try and plan your child’s visit on a day when they are already off from school. Sometimes the timing works out, but many times it doesn’t. Schools have similar schedules, and if your child’s school is closed, most likely the school you are applying to will be as well.
  • Be flexible and responsive. Admissions visits usually take place in the winter. Unfortunately, this means that snow days and sickness may affect your child’s visit. If a visit date needs to changed, do your best to make the rescheduling process easy. In many cases, admissions offices are working with hundreds of applicants—a snow day means there may be dozens of students to reschedule.
Start to prepare your child for a possible school change

If your child is younger, the applicant visit might be the first clue that a change may be coming. I often get questions from parents about how they should prepare their child and how much information about a school change is best to share. If you are a parent of a young child, trust your gut about how much information is appropriate to communicate—you know your child best.

By the time your child is applying to high school, it is best to have an open dialogue about the change and allow your child to participate meaningfully in the application process. You can start by having your child look at high school brochures and think about what they value in a school.

For language you can use to explain a school change to younger children and more advice on involving your adolescent in the school search process, download “What to Say to Kids About School Visits.”


Be sure your child gets a full night’s sleep before the school visit

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating and vitally important. Whether the visit is an hour or a full day, having had a good night of sleep helps children present their best selves and gives them the cognitive and social stamina to navigate anything that comes their way. A warm bath for your young child, a few extra books before bed, their special stuffed animal—pull out all the tricks to get your child to bed on time!

Good Night's Sleep.jpg

Have your child eat a healthy, protein-packed breakfast

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can also be one of the trickiest if you have picky eaters or your mornings are rushed. Try to stick to your normal morning routine, and be sure your child is fueled up for the day. There are some studies that indicate eating a healthy breakfast supports improved cognition, improved academic performance, and longer attention spans. If you pack and snack or lunch for your child, make sure it’s a balanced meal with more protein, but full of yummy foods that are familiar and enjoyable.

Make sure you know the drop-off and pick-up details

No one wants to come to the visit running late, flustered, or stressed. Starting the visit off on the right foot is key—especially for your child.

  • Get all of your questions answered a few days in advance. Many admissions offices will call with details or send a reminder email. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to follow up.
  • Know how to get to the school, where to park, and where to meet your point of contact.
  • Find out what your child needs to wear, whether or not you need to pack a snack/lunch, as well as time/location of pick-up.
  • Does your child have allergies or other medical conditions that the school should be aware of? Let the admissions office know well in advance so that they can be sure your child is safe while visiting.
  • For older applicants, a reminder about making eye contact, shaking hands, and trying to connect with classmates couldn’t hurt.
  • A quick goodbye and reassuring hug are all most older children need to get off and running!
How to Separate

Very young children sometimes find it difficult to separate from parents…READ MORE

How Will Private Schools Survive? Part 2

How Will Private Schools Survive? Part 2

By Avery Lawrence, DCschoolHUB Correspondent

In part one we went through some of the sobering statistics about private schools and their swift decline in popularity and enrollment. I like problems because they give you something to do: solve them. Also in part one I laid the groundwork for which schools I feel will survive and how. In part two we’ll dive deeper into which schools have the best chance of saying ‘welcome to the new school year’.

Which Ones Will Survive:

  1. The Apotheosized BIGs –  The big schools in DC proper that are sited in every Tanya, Dick, and Harriet article about DC area private schools. See part one for the full description.
  2. The Disrupters – Traditional is out. I want a school that allows students to zip line from class to class AND explain to me how brain research demonstrates how that improves cognitive functioning and will help my little bundle of joy be accepted to Princeton (Harvard is so overused). Seriously though, sort of, the schools that will survive are those who adapt to the desires of parents AND kids. Wowing families needs to be visible. Don’t believe me? Find out from your favorite private school what the CTR is of the webpage with the curriculum guide. I bet it’s way down there. At the top: 1. Tuition 2. Anything that reads exciting and you think your kids will want to do.

How Can They Survive:

  1. Lower your dang tuition! – Nuff said. See part one for the full description.
  2. Acumenical Studies – No, I didn’t spell ecumenical wrong. I don’t even know what that means. What I mean is that kids should be studying things that will actually help them become better people. English, yes. Math, yes. Science. Maybe. Social studies, ehhh. Let’s be honest, do you really need to know what a noble gas is or who shot JFK? They are interesting and if you want to pursue careers in science and history you should definitely learn about them. But how about PMI is, what about an ETF? I have yet to meet a 65 year old who wished they knew the difference between a cell wall and a cell membrane. I have met several 65 year olds who cannot understand why their retirement fund will only last for 5 years.
Old School vs. New School: Blyth-Templeton Academy

Old School vs. New School: Blyth-Templeton Academy

By Brett Graham, DC school HUB Correspondent

Private education has been around for more than 2,200 years. That’s a long time. Over the course of two plus millennia, the experience for students has changed. For me, sitting at my desk, forced to ignore those around me, speaking only when called on, and enduring reproach when I didn’t know 7 x 8 pretty much summed up my middle school experience.

Today, private schools are seeing another shift backed by research on how students learn best. From that research new schools are establishing themselves to push the needle in a much needed new direction.

There are a few schools newly established or on the horizon of opening that are testing the traditional and even progressive models of education. And over the next several weeks we will be highlighting some of them, including Blyth-Templeton Academy, BASIS Independent McLean, Fusion Academy, and Acton Academy.

Blyth-Templeton Academy (BTA), a high school in SE DC, officially opened their doors in the fall of 2015 with 50 students. Captained by well-known DC area power administrator, Lee Palmer, the school doubled its enrollment in 2016. Ms. Palmer was formerly the upper school principal at Sidwell Friends School and a highly decorated teacher before that. Some feel that BTA needed an established leader from an area powerhouse school to gain credibility. In an interview with DC school HUB, Ms. Palmer disagreed with that assumption.

“The reason I was a fit for Blyth-Templeton had less to do with my previous schools and more to do with my educational philosophy. What we’re doing here seems “new,” but in many ways it’s far from new. We’ve created a school based on what we know works: learning by doing, strong student-teacher relationships, and deeper learning that is connected to our students’ lives.” said Palmer.

So how is BTA different? How about classes maxing at 8 students per, learning only two subjects every 12 weeks, and class periods lasting 2 hours and 20 minutes. You might think 140 minute classes would get boring, but when you add in travel time around DC to make it experiential, time flies! “It’s not uncommon for students to visit the U.S. Capitol as part of a history lesson or explore math concepts at the National Building Museum. This type of experiential learning is woven into everything we do. It’s not just an occasional field trip, but a daily and weekly part of how our students learn,” said Palmer.

That all seems great, but what’s the price? 30K? 40K? How about less than $15,000 (are you listening every other private school in DC?). Don’t expect that price tag to come with a huge athletic complex or a 5-star dining facility. Those things don’t come cheap. But for 15K, it feels like you can get a unique education that prepares you more for the real world than most sit-at-a-desk-and-listen schools. In fact, there are no desks at BTA and according to Lee Palmer, “Every student has a “front row seat” and is noticed, included, and valued”.

You Are Not The Center Of The Universe

You Are Not The Center Of The Universe

I’ve got a headline for parents and fellow teachers: You are not the center of the universe.

by Ned the Noodge, The DC area’s premiere pain in the butt educator
The views of Ned the Noodge are his and his alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of DCschoolHUB and its employees.

I’ll start my gripe with parents. Most private schools have a day they invite grandparents to school. They used to call it grandparents day, but now it’s grandparent and special friends day. (the slippery slope to our ultra-inclusive society probably started with this). Anyway, a colleague told me that one of the grands couldn’t make the event at her school. So the grand sent an email to the HEAD OF SCHOOL asking her to read the note to the gathered grands and special friends AND to everyone gathered in the class. BTW, it was 3 pages long and full of what ‘granny had been up to’. The parents and grandparents were annoyed when the head of school declined to share the entire letter with the class. The head elected to have the teacher simply read it directly to the student at the end of the day.

So all of these grandparents travel far and wide so they can hear a letter about another child’s grandma? Hey granny and family: You are not the center of the universe!!!! My guess is that school won’t be receiving a donation from that family…maybe if they were in the above $1,000 donation club the head of school would have read the letter.

Now on to my fellow teachers. This happens all too often and it makes me crazy: teachers who dictate to the administration who they will and will not teach. For example, I have a colleague who will only teach the highest math group and refuses to teach those students in the lowest group. I get it, it’s more work, but guess what? THAT’S YOUR FREAKIN’ JOB!!! Get off your high horse. It’s not about you, it’s about the students.

Rant over, Merry whatever you celebrate.

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