Parenting

Parent Blog: How Being Able to Trust The Sycamore School Is The Best Thing

Parent Blog: How Being Able to Trust The Sycamore School Is The Best Thing

June 17, 2022

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community and the impact TSS has made on their children. Through these blogs, we hope you’ll gain inside knowledge and understanding of what to expect when you enroll your student in our small, independent school using the mastery-based learning approach.  See the previous blog: How The Sycamore School Changed My Life (and My Daughter’s) At The Sycamore School, I trust each and every staff member who interacts with my child:  faculty, administrative staff, and counselors. As a parent of two TSS students, with a combined six years at TSS, I have consistently been able to trust The Sycamore School to teach my children the skills they need to master the content and thrive in and out of the classroom. Due to…

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TSS Parent Blog 3

Parent Blog: How TSS Changed My Life (and My Daughter’s)

May 20, 2022

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community and the impact TSS has made on their children. Through these blogs, we hope you’ll gain inside knowledge and understanding of what to expect when you enroll your student in our small, independent school using the mastery-based learning approach.  See the previous blog: How The Sycamore School Helped to Transform My Daughter It may sound overly dramatic to say that finding The Sycamore School changed my life, but I’m sure some parents will understand. Whether their kid is bored by the pace at a public school, feels overwhelmed by tests and homework, or is anxious about going to school each day — it all comes down to the fact that their child is not thriving in their current environment.  For…

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Parent Blog 2

Parent Blog: How The Sycamore School Helped to Transform My Daughter

April 29, 2022

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community and the impact TSS has made on their children. Through these blogs, we hope you’ll gain inside knowledge and understanding of what to expect when you enroll your student in our small, independent school using the mastery-based learning approach.  See the previous blog: How The Sycamore School is Helping us Navigate the Middle School Years I’m the proud mother of a 14-year-old first year in the High School cohort of The Sycamore School (TSS). My daughter loves school, takes accountability for her work and actions, is a firm and responsible babysitter for her younger sister, a talented artist, skipped a grade, and even took up Japanese in her spare time that the early days of the pandemic presented.  But before…

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Parents of middle school students

Parent Blog: How The Sycamore School is Helping us Navigate the Middle School Years

March 31, 2022

This blog is a part of a series where parents of The Sycamore School’s students share their experiences on what it’s like to be a part of the TSS community and the impact TSS has made on their children. Through these blogs, we hope you’ll gain inside knowledge and understanding of what to expect when you enroll your student in our small, independent school using the mastery-based learning approach.   The early childhood years are filled with physical, social, and emotional milestones. Endless parenting books, articles, and playground conversations are devoted to analyzing each phase. Then comes a big one: the first day of Kindergarten. We grow as our children grow – we accumulate cupcake caddies, they get bigger backpacks; we chit-chat with other elementary parents at pick-up, at the bus stop, and as we facilitate playdates. Then…Middle School. Cupcake caddies gather dust; parents don’t get out of the car…

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Pandemic Learning Loss blog

Pandemic Learning Loss

February 24, 2022

Educators across the country are noticing that students have lost many of the skills they acquired before the pandemic. In some cases, our younger students never developed the skills we expected them to have. For example, lower elementary school teachers are encountering students who have accidents at school because they are not used to asking to go to the bathroom — they have been at home for the past two years, and it was never an issue. Some students are presenting with speech and language issues that have gone unnoticed during the challenges of the pandemic. Still, other students are not used to waiting their turn, raising their hand, or other simple behaviors that they learn at school. For our older students, we’re seeing crippling cases of anxiety. There has been a significant loss of learning for many students, yet they are expected to move forward as if they have…

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5 Signs Your Kid’s School Isn’t A Good Fit: Pandemic Edition

5 Signs Your Kid’s School Isn’t A Good Fit: Pandemic Edition

January 27, 2022

*This is an updated version of 5 Signs Your Kid’s School Isn’t A Good Fit, originally published in August 2018. As we continue to navigate education in the wake of a pandemic, many parents are assessing whether their child is thriving in their current school setting. For some families, the mix of asynchronous, hybrid, or full in-person learning has illuminated issues that were hidden prior to the pandemic. During the pandemic, parents were closer to their child’s day-to-day education, sharing Wi-Fi signals and perhaps a workspace.  As you assess whether your child’s current school is a good fit, ask yourself these questions: Have I observed my child being held back, finishing their work ahead of their peers, or being bored? Have I observed my child struggling and not having enough time to understand a topic during their normal school day? Did my child thrive when they were engaging in virtual…

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The pandemic, school refusal, and mental health struggles

Communities in Crisis: The Pandemic, School Refusal, and Mental Health Struggles – What We’re Not Talking About

January 5, 2022

We are in a mental health crisis.  The pandemic is once again disrupting our daily lives, and we have a significant number of children, tweens, and teens who are not going to school. The isolation that COVID necessitated has caused a myriad of mental health issues. The “rates of depression and suicidal behaviors have increased dramatically during the past decade, and especially during the past two years” (Our National Mental Health Crisis – Psychology Today Dec. 14, 2021). Clinicians noticed a spike in anxiety before the pandemic; since then, it’s skyrocketed out of control. Some younger children have never gone to school and don’t know how to follow a routine. Others have significant social anxiety. We’re seeing a lot of regression in terms of skills that students had previously acquired. We’re also seeing an increase in eating disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. With these mental health…

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What Do We Want Our Children to Get Out of School?

What Do We Want Our Children to Get Out of School?

December 2, 2021

What do parents want their children to learn in school?  In an article What Do Parents Want from School? (Edutopia), they polled parents and found that a common theme was that parents want their kids to be prepared for life after high school.  When I interview parents, I ask them what they are looking for in a school. Parents typically say, “I want the teachers to really get my kid and understand how they learn best.” They are usually looking for small classes and individualized instruction. Many speak about how their child used to love school and now they feel like their child’s interest is fading. They want to see that spark again — that love of learning return. I also ask them what they want their child’s school experience to be like. Most parents agree that they want their children to be happy, to have friends, to enjoy school, and…

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Return to In-Person Learning: How You Can Help Your Child

September 20, 2021

This fall, parents around the country took a deep breath and cautiously, worriedly, and maybe even gleefully sent their children back to school for a return to in-person learning. As our students return to school, parents may still be filled with anxiety asking themselves questions, such as:  Will my child be safe at school?  Will my child like being back at school?  Do they remember how to be a student?  Will they remember how to interact with others?  Will their anxiety lesson once they get used to in-person learning again?  Will my anxiety ever decrease? So, what can we do? How can we support our children and reassure ourselves? Tips to Help Manage the Return to In-Person Learning Most of us are trying to navigate our own anxiety as we try to smile bravely and encourage our children to return to school and trust that it will all go well. …

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High School student at The Sycamore School, also known as TSS, a private high school in Northern Virginia.

Why Your Student Needs a Progressive No Grades High School

August 13, 2021

What if a high school has no grades? No Advanced Placement (AP) classes. No International Baccalaureate (IB) program. To most parents in Northern Virginia, this is profoundly unsettling information. They ask, “How will my child get into college?”. The current model is not working for many students, but parents are afraid of the unknown. What they don’t know is that a progressive high school like The Sycamore School (TSS) may be precisely what they need to get into college. The college admissions process has changed dramatically since most parents were in high school. More students than ever are applying to college and acceptance rates have dropped considerably. In 1970, 152,000 students were enrolled in college, by 2000, that number had increased to 382,000 students who were enrolled in college in Virginia. [EducationData.org; July 2021] This is a particular challenge in Northern Virginia, where nine out of the top ten top…

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Summer Break Update at The Sycamore School - featured image

Summer Break Update

July 15, 2021

Summer: a time for barbecues, swimming pools, and some much-needed R&R. The weather outside may be slowing everyone down, but here at The Sycamore School (TSS), we’ve hit the ground running. The staff has been hard at work to get set up for the 2021-2022 school year, planning experiences and electives, re-organizing the school, and taking on those projects we didn’t have time for during the school year. Students can expect to see re-organized cabinets, spotless classrooms, and refreshed teachers come August.  Teachers have been working with their cohort partners and in content teams to create the trans-disciplinary curriculum that TSS is known for. Starting with the essential question and the final project, teachers reverse engineer an experience that’s designed to be as entertaining as it is instructive. We don’t want to spoil anything just yet, but this year’s showcases are looking to be a lively and entertaining return to…

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Tips to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

June 28, 2021

I recently was asked to give a talk for the FAA on School’s Out: Tips on How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain. Parents wanted to know how they should be engaging their students over the summer, especially in light of COVID and the hopeful relaxing of social guidelines. Parents often worry about regression and wonder if there are ways to prevent it. Many parents also have pragmatic concerns: I have to work full time over the summer, what are my kids supposed to do? Dr. David Myles, who is a pediatrician at Walter Reed and also spoke at the event, used a term I’d like to borrow. He explained that it’s best to view the summer as a bridge between the beginning and end of school.  First of all, as parents, please be kind to yourselves. This has been quite a year and we’ve all had to embrace flexibility, good…

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