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Your Questions .... our Answers         

Kris: I'm enrolling my kid into one of the magnet schools in our area.. and wondering if there is any downside to not providing SSN but instead signing a waiver. Just considering so much of hacking going on I don't want to unnecessarily expose the SSN.

Schools 'N More: Typically SSNs are asked for one of three reasons:

  1. Schools may have an older system and so use the 9 digit number to generate student ids.
  2. If the student or the specific program is federally funded then the school may need it to generate administrative reports for the same.
  3. Parents or children may both be non-citizens or permanent residents or live in areas very close to the border.

For #1,if the school allows for an alternate options then chances are they can support other forms of id. If they insist then you can ask if you can provide a random 9 digit number.  Since refusal to disclose a social security number cannot be grounds for exclusion from a program, the school district must be prepared to substitute an alternative number as an identifier. So I think you should be fine if you choose not to provide it.

GK: Many parents may not know their child's reading level, as assigned in the classroom. How do you suggest they find out?

Schools 'N More: There are a couple of ways you can get an idea about your child's reading level:

  • check the books your child enjoys reading and look at the back cover to see if the reading level is printed on it
  • Use a standardized online test such as the San Diego Quick Assessment (easily googled) to gauge your child's ability
That said, in my opinion, reading levels provide a rough guide and I remind myself that the objective behind teaching my child to read is to open the wonderful world books to him rather than box him into a particular level. For instance, at the time his Guided Reading level at school was "K", one of his favorite books was "Charlotte's Web" marked as level "R" by Scholastic. The important thing, I've found is to use my child's tastes and enjoyment as the best guide.
Anna: My son will be entering KinderGarten in fall. I want to know if parents typically hold boys back a year, if they are born too close to the cut off date in KG?

Schools 'N More:Anna, the research is still out on this one. There are arguments in favor of and against holding a child back. The parent needs to make the decision based on the individual chid. You can read a detailed analysis in our article on Red-shirting but briefly summarized here are -

Arguments in Favor:

  • Gives kids, especially boys an advantage in physical development leading to more advancement in sports and the class in general, in later years.
  • Gives kids (especially boys) who may not be socially and emotionally as mature as their peers, more time to mature and hence avoid social awkwardness. This way the child takes the time to feel good about himself, rather than feeling like he's always trying to catch up with peers.
  • Educators recommend holding the child back at the kindergarten level if parents have a doubt about the child's maturity because the child does not think it as being behind or held back or feel stupid. As they grow older they feel strongly about it.

Arguments against:

  • Being in a stimulating school environment from a young age may give the child a head start and an advantage over those who start later. He/she may benefit by spending time with older kids.
  • Some studies show that the advantages of a headstart may be temporary and fade in higher grades.
MathMom: How do you generate interest in Math for a preschooler?

Schools 'N More:There is no easy formula to develop interest in Math. The important point about Math - whether one is dealing with a preschooler or an older kid is to bring out the relevance of the subject in day-to-day activities. So you can start with simple math when one is at the grocery store or when kids are in the kitchen. You can also then bring our the fun element in Math by introducing your child to cool websites such as abcYA or math apps on the tablet/phone. Games such as Chutes and Ladders, Zingo(numbers) are great to play with your child. Check out our article < How to Make Math Fun For Your Preschooler for more tips.

Navneet: There are so many math classes - Kumon, Aloha, Eye Level etc? What's best for my child?

Schools 'N More: We get asked this question often. As you might expect, there's no one answer. But yes, we do agree that choosing between all the options is not always easy. Taking into account factors such as your child's age, style of learning, your objective in putting him/her to a math class, time available can help you narrow down your options. Check our our Math section for articles on the various after-school Math programs and guidelines to help you narrow your choice.

Nina: Should I send my child to Montessori? Till what age do you think it's ok for a child to be in a Montessori system?

Schools 'N More: Nina- Montessori is wonderful for younger kids especially in the preschool years. It's more open ended and gives kids more freedom to explore their interests and in doing so fosters a love for learning. It also typically provides a low student-teacher ratios make the use of specific Montessori material for learning. The caveat is that because of some of these reasons, Montessori schools also tend to be more expensive. Also, depending on where you are based, as a child grows older, you may find yourself having to move to more traditional style. While the age at which you may choose to move your child out can vary, typically it may be easier to do it around Upper Elementary so that the child is given sufficient time to adjust to a new style of learning before the rigors of Middle School kick in. Hope this helps!

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