Newsletter Library

A Word From Our Founder

Alexandra Mayzler, Executive Director, Thinking Caps

We've made it through the beginning of the new school year – albeit with a few extra cups of coffee and a little less sleep than normal. For me, this year is particularly exciting because, alongside you, I am experiencing September as a parent of a brand-new school-goer (preschool counts, right?). I know that the first few weeks of school are a combination of nervousness and excitement. There are new teachers, new classes, and new routines all around. We’re here to give your kids and teens the tools they need to succeed in the year ahead, and to support your family through its academic journey.

To prepare for this busy season, we updated our test prep programs to reflect changes with the SHSAT and SAT. We planned some great professional development events for our team. And we welcomed Ari Braverman, a TC instructor of study skills and writing, to the office staff. We also launched the Thinking Caps Instagram, where we’re sharing great photos alongside updates, helpful tips, and fun news.

We're so excited for the year ahead. Happy back-to-school!

Tutor Spotlight

Meagan Cadet

I came across a post on the Internet sometime ago that talked about how we never truly leave our past selves behind: when we turn twelve we don't stop being five, and though we may be twenty-seven, there’s still a seven year old hidden somewhere deep inside us. The main idea behind this is that we don’t grow out of our younger selves, but with them, and they work together to form the foundations of who we are.

And just who are we? As a society, we are in the throes of an identity crisis. We are constantly inundated with images and articles that tell us how we should be and who we should be like. Straighten your hair to look like X, lose ten pounds to look like Z. A nd though this way of living is toxic, it’s packaged so beautifully that we can't help but yearn for it. We yearn to find ourselves through a commoditized notion of what it means to be-- what it means to truly live. And in the age of Facebook and Instagram, these images are more accessible than ever.

I often find myself thinking, I'm so glad I’m not a teenager right now. It’s hard enough coming into who you are in a world that tries to force you into who you should be. Now take that and add in thousands of viewers. With the whole world watching, which would you project: the everyday highs and lows that you encounter, or the fabulously staged portraits that let the world know everything is A-okay?

But what happens when everything isn't?


When I was twelve years old, I would have given anything to be skinny. Not because I didn't like the way I looked, but because I thought I had to be--it was what I saw, what I read in Seventeen magazine. I thought, when I am thin, the world will open up for me. Little did I know the world was already open.

All of the things we need to be happy, we have within ourselves. Right now, at this very moment. And the first step into uncovering it is choosing it. Choosing o ur version of what it means to be happy instead of someone else’s. If bugs make us happy, then we should start a journal of the interesting critters we see everyday. If doodling makes us happy, then we should take the time to doodle and see where it leads--who knows what artist is d ying to be brought to the surface?

I knew from a very young age that I was not only good at writing, but that it made happy. However, since my parents told me I would grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer, that’s what I thought I had to be, even though I had no interest in science and the law bored me. I even took the LSATs during my junior year at Penn, though I knew I wanted to write. I knew it, and yet I was terrified, and I was miserable. Who was I to pursue a career in the arts? Who was I to follow a non-traditional career path?

I was Maegan Cadet. Age 5, 12, 19, and 21. I was the girl who hid herself under the mask of who she thought she should be, and I realized that I didn’t want to be that way any longer. Twenty-two years was much too long for a game of hide-and-seek.

So I stopped hiding, and stepped into myself. Now, don’t get me wrong: I'm still the twelve year old who loves listening to American Top 40 reruns with Casey Kasem. I'm still the sixteen year old who believes in true love, and the twenty year old with a passion for photography. The only difference is this time, I am really, truly happy.

And you wanna know what I study? Musical Theatre Writing. At Tisch. It's most certainly non-traditional, but it's most certainly me.


One of the reasons I enjoy working with tweens is because they’re just entering the point where they start to hide. I spent so many years hiding behind who I thought I should be, that I can spot a fellow hider from a mile away. But I can also encourage them to be unafraid; to let their true selves shine no matter who may laugh or turn away. Because walking in my truth and following my own path to happiness has changed me so greatly, that I'm convinced it can change the world.

Healthy Test Taking

It's officially back to school season, and for many of you that also means ISEE season. At Thinking Caps, we know how stressful this New York rite of passage can be—that’s why our test prep process is designed to keep kids healthy, academically and psychologically. This fall, we're proud extend our services by offering a workshop with two licensed psychologists, in which your kids will:

Dr. Tracy Brenner has years of experience developing strategies to reduce stress and promote learning, both in private practice and in her work as the high school psychologist at The Churchill School and Center.

In addition to her own work as middle school psychologist at Churchill, Dr. Orit Goldhamer has provided many workshops for parents, teachers and students regarding digital citizenship, media literacy, stress reduction techniques and more.

Eat some snacks, ask some questions, and learn to tackle the test with confidence!

You Ask, We Answer!

A student asks: My mom is making me take breaks during homework. She says that I can’t just be on my phone. But I find being on my phone relaxing. Isn’t a break just down time in between assignments?

Answer: You're right. A break is a pause that helps you recharge your (figurative) battery. You can take a break in between assignments or after a certain amount of work time, whatever makes the most sense for you. The type of break you take is important. As we said, that pause in between focused work times should reenergize. Activities such as taking a walk, throwing a ball around, or stretching are all energizing and great for break time. Studies also show that being in nature or even looking at something green is calming, so stepping outside or even looking at trees outside your window is another good strategy. Hope that gives you some ideas. Let us know how it goes!

Tips and Helpful Hints from Tutors

Parent's Corner

A parent asks: My 1st grader really hates reading aloud.  It is often a huge struggle to get him to open up a book and get through his nightly reading.  Sometimes it is just easier for me to read to him, but I worry that approach does not allow him to build his skills.  What can I do to help him feel better about reading?

Answer: Reading time can be a very frustrating experience for both students and parents.  If a student feels that they are “not good” at this skill, he can become disconnected and appear to be less motivated.  It is important to take the time to validate your child concerns.  Here are some tips that can help this process to feel less overwhelming for both you and your child: