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Ask Judy
Monday, 02 February 2009 06:36

Ask Judy:<br>Motivating a child to learn

I have an 8 year old daughter who is in the top class; however the teacher told me that she is not interested in reading, writing and math, and is only interested in being social with the other children. She suggested I give her incentives. Can you give me some ideas to motivate my child to like reading, math and writing?

Puzzled Mom

Dear Puzzled Mom,

Do you know why she lost interest in her studies? Is she concentrating on friendships because she feels insecure and has to work hard to make and keep friends? Does she have a chance to see her friends after school or on weekends? You can help boost her self confidence by arranging playdates with friends. Is the work too difficult? If so, ask the teacher to schedule extra help or tutoring for her. Or, is she bored because the work is dull? If that's the case, here are some ideas on how to keep her interested.

Introduce her to fun series books such as Ramona by Beverly Cleary, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgrin, Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol, or Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne. Good books are great motivators. Teachers may see these books as too easy, but they usually have kids clamoring for more. Once she is hooked on a series, the next title could be a reward for reading what the teacher assigns. Tapes and movies of these books in combination with the published versions make stories come alive. Take the time to read, watch, or listen with her. You can find plenty of other appealing books at the public library. Ask a librarian to help find those that are geared to her interests.

Encourage your daughter to write to grandparents, aunts and uncles, or neighbors who all welcome mail from kids. She can start with e-mail, and if she gets a correspondence going, she can move on to cards for special occasions and then longer letters. Writing in a diary is also fun, made even more appealing if you give her a special notebook with a pretty cover. She can write privately after she does the required school journal writing. Or, you and your daughter can read poetry and write poems together. Your participation is really important!

If you or other family members are good at math, share fun problems and puzzles. Some kids like to do arithmetic in workbooks at home. Others respond to just fooling around with a calculator or using it to solve problems that come up in shopping, like figuring out which box of raisins is the best buy or making change.

With the teacher's cooperation, (she'll report to you the good behavior days) your daughter can have a notebook full of stickers - one for each time she pays attention in school and does her homework willingly. When the agreed upon number is reached, you'll reward her with something you both agree upon: Some small change? A toy she's been yearning for? A special treat?

And, if you'd like to hear an expert speak on the topic of motivation, consider going to a talk by Rick Lavoie, author of "The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning on the Tuned-Out Child". He will be speaking in Brooklyn on Feb. 11. See our calendar for details about this free event..

Good luck and have fun.


Dear Judy,
My daughter did not get into any of her main round choices despite having a 96+ average. She got into Brooklyn Latin but does not want to go there. I have serious concerns about the school's neighborhood. Do we have a chance to go back to the main round, secondary round or for an appeal? I feel like the specialized high school process was presented as a method to find out early about your main round choices but no one mentioned this scenario.

Thanks for any help on this,

Disappointed in the 1st round

Dear Disappointed in the 1st round:

You still have a couple of days to reconsider. Acceptances are due Feb. 26. Think through the decision carefully. Try taking the trip she would take to Brooklyn Latin again. Speak to current students and listen to what they have to say about the neighborhood. Call the precinct to find out if there are incidents involving kids from the school or others in the community. Check out what other parents have to say on the forum. If she still rejects Brooklyn Latin, your daughter's application will be automatically entered in the main round.

Realize that once she turns down a specialized high school, she cannot change her mind about it. But, importantly, she can amend the application to reorder her choices, or add new ones, including the new schools that are opening next fall. According to Bonnie Gross, director of high school admissions, she not only can, but should revise her application. But remember: don't list anything you would later rule out.

Results of the main round are due March 25. At that time, if the placement is unsatisfactory, there is still another chance to submit a supplementary application, and results are due out April 30.Then, there is an appeals process, so somewhere along the way your daughter has a good chance of getting into a good high school.

Another option: 9th graders can reapply to high school. Your daughter can take SHSAT test again, for possible placement to a specialized high school in 10th grade, and apply to other high schools as well.

Act fast and good luck.


Tuesday, 10 March 2009 07:16

Ask Judy:<br>Proof of residence

Dear Judy,*

We tried to register my son for kindergarten last week but were denied because of insufficient documentation. We were given a "tentative" registration but told to return with more documents ASAP.

We live in the school's zone (we're not trying to "game" the system) but we're stumped as to how to meet the tough standards for documentation. We live in a co-op (thus utility bills are in the co-ops' name, not ours) and also do all of our personal banking and bill paying electronically. In addition, my office is paperless as well, with all payroll on line. Because the schools do not accept computer print outs of documents, we are having trouble.

- Cyberdad

Dear Cyberdad,

According to Marty Barr, the director of elementary school enrollment, there are ways to get around proving residence despite the problems caused by living in a co-op and in a totally paperless universe.

You say the school accepted the documents that you submitted re the co-op, namely a mortgage statement. Another acceptable document is a proprietary lease with your name and address on it. But that is only one category. You need proof from another.

Here are some suggestions from the Department of Education for the second proof:

Request a letter from the human resources department in your office (there must be some official letterhead stationery around.) The letter should attest to the fact that your company submits payroll deductions, W2's and 1099's to the IRS using your address. The letter should be dated and mailed to you and you should submit the letter in the envelope, showing that you received it at your address. He also said that you can request a letter from your bank attesting to your address, and mailed to your address.

There are other possibilities including a letter from any other official agency on letterhead such as a tax refund from the state or federal government, a jury notice, an overdue parking ticket, or a letter from the social security administration re your status. You can request this if you have not received it but timing can't be predicted.

You may find the list of documents required for registration on the Department's website. You can find more information about enrolling in kindergarten in our Basics section.

Good luck,


*This question was not sent to but was posted on a Brooklyn parent listserv.

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