Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Simple Summer Play

It's a lovely day in New York and your desk-sitting blogger is thinking thoughts of picnics, parks, and all sorts of outdoor activities.

Being outdoors, moving about, and engaging in play is even more important for kids, so a list of 30 Classic Outdoor Games for Kids, appearing a few years ago on the website Wired.com, makes for an appealing read, especially since these games require little or no equipment (well, Marco Polo does require a swimming pool). This list will read like a journey through most adults' childhoods, whether you played on a city street, a suburban lawn or driveway, or a country field. It's a worthwhile read.

We've got some additional suggestions, tested on kids we know well. Not all are fully outdoor activities, but all can keep kids busy, active, and having fun for hours.


  • Give your kids a box -- the bigger the better. Appliance boxes make clubhouses, cars, rocket ships and more -- sometimes all on the same day. Parents can create windows or doors. A box of markers can add details. Smaller boxes can be sealed up and stacked, making walls, forts, or roadways. The only limitation for this activity is their imagination and it works for kids of all ages, even babies. 



  • Set up a tire swing. Admittedly, this isn't for everyone, since an old tire and a very sturdy tree branch aren't easy to find. But if you are blessed with both and can come by a sturdy rope and a handy adult to set it up, this can add a new dimension to an outdoor area. Adult supervision is recommended. 
  • Get a box of sidewalk chalk. This colorful, sturdy chalk can bring out the artist in many children and will wash away the next time it rains or with a hose. 
  • Have a water fight. This can involve water balloons, water guns, and even spray hoses for older kids. The rules should require kids to opt in, since not every child likes getting wet this way. And participants should be roughly the same age, so things don't overwhelm younger kids. 
  • Put on a talent show. This is a multi-day activity that can include children of all ages, with the older ones doing the planning and the younger ones participating in a age appropriate ways. Older kids love to be the boss and little ones love to be included. We're not talking about a Broadway production here, but something kids can enjoy and parents can applaud. 
  • Fingerpaint. Outdoors. Easy clean up. Nothing else to say. 
Whatever games or activities you or your children invent, the important things are to be active, to be outdoors where possible, and to have fun. After all, it's summer...









Friday, July 13, 2018

Speak to Dr. Yellin

Families sometimes have questions about The Yellin Center and the work we do. They may wonder if their child could benefit from an educational evaluation. Or they would like more information about how our interdisciplinary team can help them understand how their child thinks and learns and how their individual intellectual strengths and challenges affect them. Or they may want to know if we offer a particular service, such as review of outside assessments, support for older students -- in college, graduate, or professional school, or advocacy support and school guidance for the students we assess (YES to all of these).

To help with these and similar questions, Dr. Yellin hosts phone-in office hours each Thursday from 8 to 9 a.m. EST* (subject to change).  Anyone may call, without appointment, to briefly discuss any questions pertaining to our work or to their child's learning. There is no fee. This service is for families who are not patients of The Yellin Center; current Yellin Center students and families can reach out to our staff, who can make an appointment if needed.




Calls are taken in the order they are received. Due to the limited nature of Dr. Yellin's time, we regret that we may not be able to accommodate all callers each week but, if this occurs, we will arrange a call-back at a later time. 

To reach Dr. Yellin during this weekly phone-in hour, please call the Yellin Center at 646-775-6646.

Monday, July 9, 2018

No School for the Fall? No Need to Panic

Most students know where they will be in school this fall. They may be continuing in the same school they have attended, only one grade higher. Or they may be moving to another school, either from an elementary to a middle school, or from middle to high school. Many have even visited their new classrooms and met their new teachers during a "moving up" day at the end of the school year. Even students whose families have relocated to another school district -- nearby or across the country -- generally know where they will be starting school in August or September.

 
But not all students have a place for the coming year. Public schools in some areas, including New York City, may have a shortage of places in desirable schools and place some students on waiting lists, so that while a student will have a place somewhere, he or she may not know exactly where at this point in the summer. 

Other students are new to the city, and have not yet been enrolled. For these students, the NYC Department of Education has information available on their New Student Page., which includes information on what documentation is needed for enrollment. They also offer in-person assistance at Family Welcome Centers, which are located in every borough.

For private school students, the situation is a bit different. While public schools must provide a place for every student (although sometimes, due to  over-enrollment in some schools, this doesn't happen by the first day of school), private schools of all kinds have no such requirement. They can generally determine their admissions criteria and often set up their classes months in advance. Many families apply to these schools almost a full year before their student would actually start classes. And that situation can be even more so for private schools for students with special learning needs. 

However, even for students with special learning needs facing limited spots in schools that can offer them the support they require, all is not lost. First, keep in mind that a school that might be full in June can have openings by August, as families move or change their plans. Stay in touch with the admissions office of the school(s) you are interested in and let them know you would enroll if a spot opens up. Also, despite what parents may hear (and schools don't want to advertise this fact), but especially in times of economic uncertainty or downturn, not all of these schools fill their spots. Private school is very expensive, and whether families pay completely on their own, or are seeking reimbursement for special education tuition, some parents find these schools beyond their means.  It never hurts to inquire about last minute openings. There is also the possibility of mid-year openings, as schools or families realize that the "fit" between a particular school and student is not a good one. Again, stay in touch with admissions officers to learn of these places. 

Parents of students who require special education and were contemplating private school should keep in mind that the public system not only is required to accept their child, but to provide him or her with a free, appropriate education (FAPE) under an IEP. There are many reasons why this solution may not be acceptable for some parents, including class size and the rigor of special education supports (although some public schools do provide strong special education programs) but it can offer an alternative while parents seek a private setting they may prefer. 



Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash