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25 Family Staycation Ideas for the NJ School Holidays in November

School kids across the country are looking at abbreviated November schedules, but New Jersey kids have several holidays to look forward to this month. First up is Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2018. While not all schools are closed, many are off or have half-days. NJ schools also will be closed for the statewide teacher conferences happening Thursday, November 8, and Friday, November 9, 2018. 

Of course, don't forget about Thanksgiving later this month, when kids have off on Thursday, November 22, and Friday, November 23, 2018, and some have a half-day or no school on the Wednesday prior. Yikes! That means more time off than the December holidays for some NJ school kids.

With that in mind, we're putting together a list of 25 fantastic things to do this November in New Jersey with the kids. Lucky for you, dear parent, the holiday season also means plenty of fun activities, many of which are FREE. Read on for more ideas. 

Don't forget to find more fun in our November GoList and our daily Event Calendar of activities around New Jersey. It might also be a good time to check off one or two items on our list of 100 things to do in New Jersey with kids before they grow up

Preschool Admissions Tips from Experts, Schools, and Moms Who've Been There

Finding the right preschool is a challenge for many NYC parents. Of course you want to provide your kids with the best early education experience possible, but there’s also cost and location to consider—and available spots can be in short supply at the most popular preschools. Plus, the sheer number of programs and educational philosophies (are you a Montessori family, or is your two year-old more of a Reggio-Emilia kinda toddler?) can be overwhelming.

Like a lot of other things in this city, finding a great preschool calls for a bit of advance planning and research. But with a few helpful tips, you can navigate the preschool admissions obstacle course. To demystify the process of getting into preschool in NYC, we reached out to admissions consultants, preschool directors, and parents who’ve been there, toured that. What we discovered is that there are as many different and "great" preschools as there are perfectly wonderful children. The right preschool situation is out there for your family!

Are Daycare Kids Better Behaved? This Study Says Yes

Torn between a nanny, daycare, or staying home with your kids? Choosing childcare can be a difficult—and deeply personal—decision for any family, and of course involves a number of factors, from costs to the length of your commute. A new study out of France suggests that daycare might offer some significant advantages in terms of our kids' development.

Researchers at Sorbonne Université in Paris followed nearly 1,500 kids from the womb to age 8 as they either attended a center-based daycare or were cared for by a nanny or family member. The daycare kids, particularly those who attended at least a year before the age of three, were less likely to have problems with peers and other emotional and behavioral issues, according to the researchers.

The School in Rose Valley is a One-of-a-Kind Find Near Philly

Picking a preschool or elementary school is a big decision, so when we hear about a one-of-a-kind option like The School in Rose Valley, we're eager to get the scoop (and share the details, of course). Nestled away in the woods, this progressive preschool through 6th grade program pairs organic gardening, fort building, and chicken coop tending with a challenging core curriculum that includes literacy, math, science, social studies, Spanish, woodshop, art, and music. Plus, the beautiful, sprawling campus is just a short drive from Philly.

We spoke with the Head of School, Rod Stanton, to learn a little more about the oh-so-unique program. Read on to find out if The School in Rose Valley might be just the right fit for your family, and save the date for the upcoming Fall Family Open House & Children's Book Fair on Saturday, November 3.

New Bilingual Nursery Threes Program Arrives at the Lycée School

The earlier the better when it comes to learning a second language. And that's exactly why the launch of the Lycée's bilingual Nursery Threes Program in September 2019 is really big news for "mamans" and "papas" who are hoping to raise young French-speakers—and anyone hoping to raise bilinguals in today's interconnected world.

Established way back in 1935, the Lycée Français de New York has been considered one of the most renowned bilingual schools in the city for years, providing students with an authentic, immersive French educational experience that features aspects of a classical European education, while incorporating the creativity, ingenuity, and optimism associated with American programs. The school offers an engaging project-based curriculum and rigorous academics across high school, middle school, elementary school, and now preschool. In fact, with the addition of the new Threes Program, the Lycée actually offers the complete "cycle one" of the French primary school system, also known as "the early learning cycle" or "maternelle.

What Happened to Columbus Day? What's Indigenous Peoples Day? And Is There School?

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? Should you be picking something to do from the Mommy Poppins events calendar? And what about Indigenous Peoples Day—is that a thing? 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 public school kids have school on Monday.

Inquiry-Based Learning is Front and Center at Blue School

What does it take to be named one of the most innovative schools in the entire world? Just ask the founders of New York City's Blue School, who actually co-created the performance art phenomenon Blue Man Group more than a decade before deciding to build an educational program that embodies that same boundless energy and rule-breaking creativity. Since it first entered the scene back in 2006, the independent school for two-year-olds through eighth grade has been named one of the thirteen most innovative global schools by Business Insider and one of just six selected by Wired magazine.

Located in lower Manhattan, the oh-so-modern Blue School campus is filled with unexpected spaces including a "Wonder Room," an Upcycling Center, and a double-height Materials Library. Meanwhile, thoughtfully designed classrooms; designated lab spaces for studio art, STEAM, science, music, and drama; a gymnasium and performing arts space; and the outdoor roof and terrace are all equally reflective of the school's mission to provide students with endless opportunities for collaboration, exploration, and self-expression. (You can see for yourself at an upcoming open house or admissions tour.) Across the campus, you'll find two-year-olds exploring materials by digging their toes into mounds of clay; third graders writing non-fiction pieces about Westward Expansion through the eyes of animals who bared witness; and fifth graders studying social justice through independent research into the unknown stories of known activists.

Free and Cheap After-School Programs for NYC Kids and Teens

Back-to-school season is also back-to-after-school season, as families look for enriching and fun programs for their children. There are tons of sports, arts, academics, and other kinds of classes for New York City kids, many of them reasonably priced. In fact, a handful of high-quality after-school programs are actually free or super inexpensive!

Some places, like the New York City Parks Department, offer after-school coverage Monday through Friday. Other programs only meet once or twice a week. We've rounded up 15 organizations that offer complimentary or reasonably-priced classes to kids and teens throughout the five boroughs.

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