Schools

5 Fun STEM Activities To Get Preschoolers Excited About Engineering

Activities based on engineering principals offer a great way for kids to learn art, science, technology and concepts of literacy, while also strengthening fine motor, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills. That’s the thinking behind STEM-based schools, like our sponsor BASIS Independent Brooklyn, which starts teaching engineering in its PreK classes. But learning engineering principles can happen at home, too, and BASIS Independent Brooklyn teachers have shared some of their favorite engineering-based activities from their preschool and K-4 classrooms to try with your family.

"With increased screen time in PreK-12 environments, there is a growing and important movement to build in time for actual 3D play into children's days," says Hadley Ruggles, head of school at Basis Independent Brooklyn. "Not only is engineering important for asking larger questions about the world around you, but it keeps important parts of kids' brains and bodies active." So challenge yourselves with these fun engineering activities, perfect for your preschoolers and older kids, too.

School Closings: How to Know If It's a Snow Day in New York City

How do you find out if your kid's New York City school is closed, because of the snow? While NYC public schools rarely close, private schools and nursery schools close frequently and it's important to know whether your child's school will be open before you head out the door. (Calling might not work if the administrators stayed home!)

Here are the best resources for finding out if New York City schools are closing for a snow day, as well as ideas for what to do in the event of snowmageddon, like NYC's Top Sledding Hills and 40 Snow Day Boredom Busters to do indoors.

Vaccines: Don't Lose Your Child's School Spot over the New Vaccination Law

As of January 1, 2016, California becomes one of just three states (along with Mississippi and West Virginia) with mandatory vaccination requirements. This means that personal or religious belief exemptions will no longer be allowed for children entering school at the following three points: Childcare/Preschool, Kindergarten, and 7th grade. This affects many more families than just those who oppose vaccines, and probably many who don't yet realize they are affected. Parents who have made use of the personal belief exemption as a means to buy time (perhaps because they fully intend to vaccinate their kids, but not on the same schedule as their school district), need to know that this strategy is no longer an option. Complete proof of vaccination must be presented at the time of enrollment, which may be several months prior to the start of the actual school year.

What Happened to Columbus Day?

If, like many Angelenos, you were once a resident of another state—or even if you can remember to way back before 2009—you may be experiencing your annual attack of Columbus Day confusion. Is there school on Monday? Is it a holiday? Is this a day to pick something fun to do from the Mommy Poppins events calendar, or scramble to find a vacation day camp? Go ahead and check your school district’s calendar if it makes you feel better, but we can end the mystery for you right here: yes, your kids have school on Monday.

BASIS Independent School: STEM-Based Learning for NYC Kids

This post is sponsored by BASIS Independent School.

One thing all parents I know can agree on is that we want our kids to have the best education possible. While we might not always trust politicians with our education choices, when two parents—who also happen to be world-class academicians—decide to take matters into their own hands, that's worth knowing about. And that's the story behind our sponsor BASIS Independent Brooklyn, a BASIS.ed school that offers a world-acclaimed liberal arts STEM-focused curriculum.

Founded in 1998 with one school in Arizona and just a handful of students, today BASIS.ed manages BASIS Independent Brooklyn in Red Hook, along with two other private schools in Silicon Valley and McLean, VA, 16 charter schools across the United States and an international school in China. Its students consistently rank among the best in math, reading, and science—not just in the country, but the world over.

News: What to Know for Back to School with NYC Kids

This week marked back-to-school for the 1.1 million children in NYC public schools, as well as many private-school counterparts, and the 2015-2016 academic year brings with it no shortage of new systems to master and even new holidays! For example, the DOE's new parent portal we told you about last spring—NYC Schools Account—is now up and running!

Parents will find students' test scores, attendance records and report cards (in 10 languages) in the new portal, which is accessible by computer, tablet or smartphone—a major improvement over its predecessor. You'll need an activation code handed out by your child's school to access the personalized, free account page. All the instructions and required documents can be found on the schools account page.

Read on for more school news and updates throughout NYC.

Entering NYC Kindergarten: 5 Things to Know

The first day of kindergarten is exciting, nerve-wracking, hectic, tear-jerking and adorably photogenic all over the country. But New York City kids (and parents) face a unique set of challenges when headed to school for the very first time.

I have three children, ages 16, 12 and 8. That means I’ve been through NYC kindergarten three times. (I’ve also been through the admissions process three times, and wrote an entire book, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten, of tips and tricks.)

Over the years, I’ve learned five things that all families must know in order to have a successful transition from pre-K (public or private) into elementary school (public, private, charter, gifted, magnet, religious; like I said, it’s NYC, things are different here).

Check out the list below and learn from my mistakes, rather than your own.

Free and Cheap After-school Classes and Programs for LA Kids

Back-to-school season is also back-to-after-school season, when families look for enriching and fun programs for their children. Options for arts, sports, and other recreational classes for kids in the LA area are numerous and varied - lucky us! - but many are tough to manage on a budget. The good news is there are also many free and cheap ways to engage students’ minds and bodies in the hours after school lets out.

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