Kindergarten Parent Orientation

On May 27, at 6:30 p.m., a Kindergarten Parent Orientation meeting will be held in the Chaplin Elementary School Music Room.  This is an introductory session for parents only.  We will provide child care for those families who require it.  Information regarding Kindergarten, our activity time-line, and Kindergarten registration procedures will be discussed.

You will have an opportunity to speak with Patricia King, Principal, Laura Massad and Lena Rossi, our Kindergarten Teachers.  You will also hear from Stacey Poole, our Speech/Language Pathologist, Charlene Petrone, our School Nurse, Nancy Douton, our Math Specialist and Stephanie Partyka, our school Social Worker.

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Celebrate Screen-Free Week!


On May 4-10, children, families, and communities around the world will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen. Unplug from digital entertainment and spend your free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, exploring, and connecting with family and friends.


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5 simple ways to encourage your kids to eat healthy


By Elizabeth Renter

Reposted from

Children ages 7 and younger like what they like, and healthy eating advice for parents rarely goes beyond “offer more vegetables.” But experienced parents know that tactic only goes so far— and may go nowhere with children who are especially picky eaters, or who are watching their parents diet, or who wonder why these same rules don’t apply at Grandma’s.

Childhood obesity rates are higher than ever, with more than one-third of U.S. children overweight or obese in 2012, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last checked. Although they’re at risk of the ill effects that accompany childhood obesity— including obesity later in life— these children often lack healthy diets and proper exercise. But delivering important health lessons to the youngest among them isn’t so straightforward. It requires meeting them at their level.

What young children need in nutrition education

Educators use the phrase “developmentally appropriate practice” to describe the concept of teaching children in the ways most in alignment with their age and experience. For instance, children just entering grade school learn better through direct and interactive experiences that are meaningful on the day they learn them, whereas older children can be more receptive simply sitting and listening. This same line of reasoning can be used to teach children about food and health.

Young children aren’t equipped to learn about all of the vitamins and minerals in their food or the potentially damaging effects of eating too many sweets and processed foods. But oversimplifying by just telling them that something is healthy or that they need to eat it “because I said so” is hardly equipping them to make their own healthy food choices.

1. Ditch ‘because it’s good for you’

Because the youngest children don’t understand the complexities of nutrition, using “because it’s good for you” to convince them of a food’s value really lacks meaning— and could backfire. This is especially true when they’re resisting a particular food. They could come to associate “good for you” with unpleasant-tasting foods, steering them toward other, unhealthier options.

2. Talk about the food experience

“Children at this age are more motivated by what food looks like, its texture and its uniqueness than they are about any long-term health consequences,” says dietitian and childhood nutrition expert Jill Castle.

Because children are interested in the experience, Castle suggests talking with children about tastes, smells and how healthy foods can be prepared and served. These discussions can be the “vehicle for teaching them about nutrition”, she says. So point out how broccoli looks like a tree or how various fruits and vegetables have colors that match a rainbow, and even let them get involved in the kitchen.

3. Change your self-talk

Little ears are always listening, and if parents have an unhealthy relationship with food or their weight, their children will pick up on that. Research has repeatedly shown that children, and especially daughters, are vulnerable to their mothers’ perceptions about food and their own body image, possibly even associating Mom’s dieting with their own need to restrict or manipulate their eating habits. Learning to be easygoing about food and related health issues isn’t just good for Mom but also good for the watching kids.

4. Promote balance

Going to Grandma’s house may mean ice cream and cookies for lunch, but parents don’t need to paint that as a negative experience. Castle says children can grasp the concept of balance and moderation. You can talk about how Grandma’s house is a great diversion from the norm, where we get treats we wouldn’t normally have, but you don’t need to bash Grandma’s choices.

“We can sometimes have all the foods we want to have, and we don’t have to be afraid and feel guilty if we eat them,” Castle says. “I think that equally important to raising children who choose to eat healthy is raising children who enjoy eating, and have a good appreciation of how food can interact with their bodies and have a positive place in their lives.”

5. Create opportunities, not pressure

Picky eaters can be the bane of health-conscious parents, but pressure and tension have no place at the dinner table. Research indicates that pressuring or bargaining children into eating their vegetables, for instance, only backfires, making them dislike those foods even more and even dread coming to the dinner table. Instead, relax. Sometimes it’s merely a phase, and at other times it may simply be a matter of taste.

“For some parents, it’s a reminder to say: Not every kid is going to like every food on the planet,” Castle says. “So, get that idea out of your head.”

But don’t let that pickiness dictate what is served. Removing vegetables from the table is the absolute worst thing you can do. Offer healthful foods and be patient. Castle says it’s almost a matter of desensitizing picky eaters to the presence of these foods. Continue to serve them, create opportunities for children to explore new healthy foods, and eventually they will come around.

Learning about food should be enjoyable

Food is fun, even when it’s healthy, and the youngest children are at a ripe age for grasping the enjoyable nature of eating well. From indulging their young senses in brightly colored produce to sharing time at the family table, healthy, lasting habits are based in pleasurable, low-stress experiences.



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Chaplin Preschool Screening

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Easter Breakfast & Activities

Saturday from 9:00-11:00.

Chaplin Elementary School.

Come down and visit the Easter bunny and don’t forget your baskets.


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World Salt Awareness Week!


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Debunking the Myths About School Attendance


Myth 1: Attending Kindergarten Regularly Doesn’t Really Matter

Reality: Chronic absence (missing 10 percent of school days) in kindergarten is associated with lower academic performance in 1st grade, especially in reading for Latino students. For poor children, unable to make up for time on task, the poor performance extended through 5th grade. By 6th grade chronic absence is a clear predictor of drop-out. By 9th grade, missing 20 percent of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores.

Chronic absence in the early grades and beyond can affect all students when teachers must spend time reviewing concepts for children who missed the lesson in the first place. And it can cost schools money when state funding is linked to attendance. Chronic absence can serve as an early warning signal that a child or a school is headed off track. It can reflect unhealthy economic and social conditions.

Myth 2: We don’t need to worry about large number of students missing school until middle or high school.

Reality: While absenteeism is more widespread in secondary school, it still affects vast numbers of younger students. Nationally, one in 10 kindergarten and 1st grade students misses a month of school every year. In some districts, as many as one in four students in the primary grades are missing too much school time. This isn’t just truancy, since most young children don’t stay home without a parent’s knowledge. It’s important to address the problem in the early grades before a student heads off track academically and bad attendance habits become entrenched.

Myth 3: Most school already monitor when students are chronically absent.

Reality: Even when teachers take the roll daily, the data they collect is not typically analyzed to reveal chronic absence patterns. Rather, most schools measure school-wide attendance—or they track truancy, which doesn’t capture excused absences. When school districts analyze all absences, they are often surprised at how many students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

Even if schools track absences for individual students, they often don’t analyze patterns that can reveal when a particular neighborhood or classroom is disproportionately affected. These patterns can suggest the best remedies for reducing absences.

Myth 4: Because families are ultimately responsible for children getting to class, there’s not much schools can do to improve attendance.

Reality: Schools across the nation are starting to track chronic absence and seeing better attendance. The first step is analyzing the data to find patterns that can inform the response. Look for:

  • Systemic reform – Baltimore cut its middle school chronic absence rate in half in large part due to structural changes. The city shut down its most troubled middle schools and created, instead, kindergarten-to-eighth grade campuses that kept sixth graders more engaged or sixth-to-12th grade schools that could serve older students retained in lower grades. At the same time, officials actively reviewed their discipline policy and took a strong stance against suspending students for minor, non-violent offences. For example, they ceased suspending students for truancy.
  • Barriers to attendance – A careful analysis can reveal pockets of chronic absence that can be addressed with tailored responses. If absences are clustered in one neighborhood, consider a school bus or safe walking route; if asthma or other chronic illness is the problem, beef up health services. If parents don’t understand the consequences of absence in the early grades, educate them. If chronic absence is clustered in a particular classroom, examine whether the teacher needs help developing stronger partnerships with parents and a more engaging curriculum.
  • Targeted community responses – If the broader strategies don’t work, bring together schools, health and social services to reach out to children and families on a case by case basis. Use attendance clerks and volunteer mentors to check regularly with families and use public and nonprofit agencies to provide transportation, counseling or other needs.

All of these approaches involve parents in the equation, but can also engageafterschool and morning programs, health care providers and social services networks.



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2014 – Year in Review from Commissioner Jones-Taylor

To open this letter as a pdf click here.

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Quality of Words, Not Quantity, Is Crucial to Language Skills, Study Finds

LANGUAGE1-master675It has been nearly 20 years since a landmark education study found that by age 3, children from low-income families have heard 30 million fewer words than more affluent children, putting them at an educational disadvantage before they even began school. The findings led to increased calls for publicly funded prekindergarten programs and dozens of campaigns urging parents to get chatty with their children.

Now, a growing body of research is challenging the notion that merely exposing poor children to more language is enough to overcome the deficits they face. The quality of the communication between children and their parents and caregivers, the researchers say, is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears.

A study presented on Thursday at a White House conference on “bridging the word gap” found that among 2-year-olds from low-income families, quality interactions involving words — the use of shared symbols (“Look, a dog!”); rituals (“Want a bottle after your bath?”); and conversational fluency (“Yes, that is a bus!”) — were a far better predictor of language skills at age 3 than any other factor, including the quantity of words a child heard.

Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek is the lead author of a study that points to the importance of high-quality communication with young children.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“It’s not just about shoving words in,” said Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and lead author of the study. “It’s about having these fluid conversations around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have morning coffee together or using the banana as a phone. That is the stuff from which language is made.”

In a related finding, published in April, researchers who observed 11- and 14-month-old children in their homes found that the prevalence of one-on-one interactions and frequent use of parentese — the slow, high-pitched voice commonly used for talking to babies — were reliable predictors of language ability at age 2. The total number of words had no correlation with future ability.

The idea that quality of communication matters when it comes to teaching children language is hardly new.

“Our field has been pretty consistent in recognizing all along that there has to be quality and quantity,” said Dr. Hirsh-Pasek. Even the 1995 study that introduced the notion of the 30-million-word gap, conducted by the University of Kansas psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, found that parental tone, responsiveness and use of symbols affected a child’s I.Q. and vocabulary.

But this year’s studies are the first time researchers have compared the impact of word quantity with quality of communication. The findings, said Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl, a director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington and an author of the April study, suggest that advocates and educators should reconsider rallying cries like “close the word gap,” that may oversimplify the challenges facing poor children.

“I worry about these messages acting as though what parents ought to focus on is a word count, as though they need a Fitbit for words,” she said, referring to the wearable devices that tally steps.

The use of the word “gap” may be counterproductive, said Dr. Hirsh-Pasek. “When we talk about gaps, our natural tendency is to talk about filling them,” she said. “So we talk about the amount as if we’re putting words inside the empty head of a child.”

“But in the same way that you can’t drop the shingles and the siding for a house on the ground, you need to have the foundation there first if language isn’t going to just roll off the child’s back and become background noise.”

For the new study, Dr. Hirsh-Pasek and colleagues selected 60 low-income 3-year-olds with varying degrees of language proficiency from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a long-term, wide-ranging study of 1,300 children from birth to age 15. Other researchers reviewed video of those children at age 2 in play sessions with their parents. The researchers watching the video were unaware of how the children would later develop.

“We were able to ask whether those interactions held any clues accounting for the differences we saw at age 3,” said Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, who was an author of the long-term study. “It turned out we were able to account for a whole lot of the variability later on.”

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