After a winter that felt like it would never end, we’re finally starting to believe that warm days are here to stay. With break around the corner, we’re getting excited for our Thinking Caps Summer programs. We love using the lazier days of summer to help students discover new interests and hone their critical thinking skills. Our enrichment programs expose students to learning outside the textbooks while our remediation classes bolster basic skills and confidence. As we head toward break, I invite you to join us for Thinking Caps Summer in New York and in the Hamptons.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful community of families and education professionals. Your support of and trust in our work makes us constantly strive higher. Likewise, our wonderful, ambitious, and spirited students inspire us each and every year. I am so grateful to share in this experience with the entire Thinking Caps team. It is amazing to be able to be able to spend our days like this!
We look forward to seeing everyone in the new school year! Happy summer...and remember to keep your Thinking Cap on!
As I write this, I am finishing my 27th consecutive year as a full-time student. Although there have been times when the stress of finals and finishing papers was discouraging, I have never doubted my decision to stay in school for this long. It would be easy to say that I have been driven by my desire to obtain an advanced degree and embark on a career pursuing my passion. However, other integral factors have influenced my decision and transformed my educational experience from a necessary burden to an enjoyable and fulfilling journey. Namely, I have worked to develop supportive relationships in the classroom and have received consistent positive feedback in response to my academic efforts.
When I was young, I tried to complain to my parents about "boring" teachers. Having both been involved in education, my parents were quick to defend my teachers and ask me what I could be doing to make the lesson more enjoyable. Although I was initially disappointed with their response, this advice inspired me to work toward being as engaged as possible in every lesson. In all of my classes, I raised my hand, asked questions, and worked hard to connect whatever topic I am learning to an interest of mine. I ask myself, "In what ways can I relate to this topic" and "How can I make this fun or interesting?" Admittedly, I never found a way to connect personally with topics like geometry or calculus. However, as a natural fan of puzzles, I learned to find joy in solving difficult problems. My newfound enthusiasm for learning was met favorably by my teachers, which transformed the I interacted with them. The "boring" teachers of my past became a useful resource to help satisfy my academic curiosity and push me to new heights as a student.
In large part, my ability to take pleasure in school was facilitated by my confidence as a learner. I enjoyed the puzzles of geometry because I could trust that I would be able to figure them out. Generally, when the going got tough, I was faithful that putting in extra effort would pay off. However, there were some classes in which this was not the case. When I was younger, the classes that I enjoyed the least were those classes in which I felt hopeless. When the content seemed too far out of reach for me to understand, I found myself dreading going to class and working on homework. Motivation is elusive when you doubt your ability to succeed. Again, my parents were pivotal in helping me overcome this challenge. My parents helped me to reconsider what it means to be successful. In my family, success was never defined by a grade; my parents were happy as long as I was enjoying school and able to take pride in my work. Having internalized this measure of success, I found that I was able to remain motivated even for those "impossible" classes. Although the outcome may not have always been an "A," I could always take pride in my work and often found that I would improve.
Dana M Rhule, PhD,
Licensed child clinical psychologist
Summer is right around the corner, and with this season comes many fun trips, camps and new plans for children. Although often welcomed by children and parents alike, these novel summer experiences can also generate a great deal of anxiety and stress. Meeting new kids at camp, flying to new destinations, sleeping away from home, and facing the unknown can create a great amount of apprehension. So here are 6 tips to help your family get ready to embrace the summer.
Dana M Rhule, PhD, is a licensed child clinical psychologist, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the Director of Child & Adolescent Psychology at Union Square Practice (USP). Dr. Rhule provides psychological evaluations, parent training, school consultation, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for children and adolescents struggling with anxiety and difficulty regulating their emotions and behavior.
A student asks: I'm counting down the days until summer vacation and cannot wait to just soak up the sun and be lazy! But lately, all my teachers have been talking about "brain drain." Is this a problem I should be thinking about? How can I prevent brain drain from happening to me?
Answer: Summer is slowly approaching, and we know we can all use a good tan! But brain drain is indeed a real concern! Research has revealed that students lose between two to two and half months' worth of math skills from previous year's learning, as well as experience significant setbacks in their reading ability. We know you wouldn’t want all of the hard work you put into school to go to waste. Thankfully, brain drain can be completely reversed! You'll want to participate in meaningful learning over the course of the summer by reading daily. Pick up the newspaper or read a chapter in a pleasure book several days a week to make sure your vocabulary continues to grow. As far as your math skills go, talk to your teacher. He/she may be an excellent resource to give you some ideas for math workbooks to complete in between play and television watching! Remember you want to keep your skills sharp, because you know how the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it!
Here goes my list:
-- Avery Erwin
-- Asja Parrish
My favorite picture book of the moment is "Louise Loves Art". It has a great design, is fun to read, and incorporates conflict resolution. For Young Adults, I recommend "Ruby Red" by Kerstin Gier (be prepared to buy the whole trilogy). If older students are looking for an enjoyable but well written summer read, I recommend "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein or "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery.
-- Jacey Kinnaird
I think a good young adult novel is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. It's not a difficult read, but it's definitely an intricate story that students of all ages can probably appreciate. I read it in high school and loved it, but I think middle school readers would be able to get just as much out of it. I also recommend reading the news, as boring as that may sound. It's amazing how unaware a lot of our students are - especially during the summer - so just picking up the Times now and then is a good way to keep reading (and vocabulary!) skills sharp, as well to stay informed.
-- Zoe Mitrofanis
Lord of the Rings always the first that comes to mind. Oh, and Catch 22.
-- David Moroney
I can’t pick just one! Here's my summer list:
-- Jen Gayda
Since I work mainly with high school students, my suggestions are for older readers. They include: Unbroken, The Goldfinch, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
-- Lizzie Thompson
The summer is a great opportunity to get hooked on a fun series of books (since, after all, students finally have the time for it!). My favorites are and will forever be the Harry Potter books. They always remind me of eagerly poring over them on warm, lazy days at the shore. Older readers may also appreciate the world created by George R.R. Martin in his Game of Thrones series. Both of these collections are prime examples of books that are far superior to the screen versions they inspired. Whatever the choice of material, relaxing outside with a great read is my idea of the best way to while away a summer day!
-- Kate Durham
My list always includes: A River Runs Through It, Abstract Wild, and Mrs. Dalloway.
-- Danielle Jacobs
I'd recommend Johnny Got His Gun, Dharma Bums, Kafka on the Shore, The Hare (by Cesar Aira) and Seamstress and the Wind (also by Aira).
-- Pat Song
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