Category Archives: Benefits of a Private Elementary School

Meadowbrook Students Recognized In National French Competition

Meadowbrook French Club
Winners of Le Grand Concours

Le Grand Concours is a national competition sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French. Students were evaluated for their written, oral and listening comprehension skills in French. More than 72,000 students in all 50 states competed in the 2019 event. Second-grade student, Juniper Oser, earned a platinum medal, plaque and certificate for earning the highest score in her level/division. This is the first time a Meadowbrook student earned this placing! Sixth-grade student, Zara Clark-Schecter, ranked in the 95th percentile earning a gold medal. Fifth-grade students, Delaney Stout, and Gabriella Cordon ranked in the 90th percentile nationally earning silver medals. Sixth-grade student Nelson Cordon ranked in the 85th percentile nationally also earning a silver medal. Elizabeth Grohsman (4th grade), Peyton Abbott (3rd grade), and Lia Khoury (2nd grade) ranked in the 80th percentile nationally earning bronze medals according to Lisa Narug, National Director of Le Grand Concours.

AATF President Anne Jensen indicated: As the president of AATF, I would like to extend my special congratulations to those students who ranked nationally in Le Grand Concours.
They have shown a superior level of French language skills, cultural competence, and commitment to French. It is my hope that these students will continue their interest in French and pursue study and travel opportunities as future ambassadors of the French language and the many cultures it represents. I would also like to congratulate the teachers who prepared nationally ranked students because without their dedication and hard work these students would not have attained their ranking. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the parents who have supported and advocated for the French programs in their children’s schools. Our Association is grateful to the dedication and hard work of everyone who shares our passion for the promotion of French.

The Meadowbrook School’s French Club, hosted by World Language teacher, Suzanne McDowell Cordon ’95 and Khyber Oser, prepares students for Le Grand Concours by conversing in French, preparing and eating French food, and having fun! Just another way the Meadowbrook School is bringing life to learning.

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today!

outdoorplayIf you look on the U.S. government’s “Let’s Move” website, which promotes the importance of physical activity for young people, you will find that it says this:

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

Sixty minutes sounds like a lot, right? It is — but Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, doesn’t think it’s near enough to combat all of the issues that young people face today in the academic-oriented, competitive school culture. In this post, she explains why, and what should be done about it. Hanscom is the author of a number of popular posts on this blog, including “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today” and “How schools ruined recess.” Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. She writes on the TimberNook blog, and her new book, “Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children,” has just been released.

Why so many kids can’t sit in school today.


By Angela Hanscom

Movement equals health is one of those equations as indisputable as the sun equals light. But there are two important variables that rarely factor into this formula: the type of movement and how much. For children, it’s a lot more than you think.

The U.S. government’s recommendation of 60 minutes of vigorous movement a day for children, combined with healthy eating, is great for decreasing the risks of obesity and heart disease, among other chronic diseases. But children today have symptoms of other alarming problems, such as weaker bones and muscles, emotional instability and anxiety, surprising episodes of aggression, the inability to focus and pay attention, and problems “sitting still” compared to children of just two decades ago.

Know what helps with all of these? Movement. And a lot of it! To be healthy, children need several hours (not minutes!) of movement a day — preferably outdoors, where the senses are fully alive and their bodies are free to move in many different ways.

[The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class]

The White House, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are making efforts to combat the obesity epidemic. This is important and I applaud their efforts. But if we don’t step in to address other problems on the rise, we risk setting our kids up for another epidemic: rampant developmental, behavioral and emotional disorders, and even the misdiagnosis of attention-deficit disorder and autism.

I recently got a call from a longtime friend. “My son is in full-day kindergarten now. He is the sweetest little boy in the world,” she gushed. “He desperately wants to please his teacher, but he keeps failing miserably.”

She started crying. She told me that her son comes home almost every day with a note that says he was “wiggly” during math or couldn’t sit still for circle time again. “They don’t know what to do with him,” she said. “They have him carrying heavy books to the office thinking that this hefty load will somehow help to ‘calm him.’ And they encourage him to ‘get his sillies out’ by jumping on a trampoline for a few minutes, but it doesn’t seem to help much.”

She went on to say, “He is starting to think something is wrong with him. He says things like, ‘I can’t do anything right’ or the most heart-breaking of all, ‘I’m stupid.’ He is just starting his academic years and already has a taste for defeat.”

This 5-year-old is being targeted as a “problem child” simply because he needs to move more. According to veteran teachers who have been in the classroom for more than 30 years, maybe one or two children would have trouble paying attention in the past. Now, it is the new norm. Teachers are frequently telling me that on a good day, roughly 4 out of 13 children have trouble attending.

The number of developmental deficits seen in children today is unnerving. More and more kids are quick to become emotional, are fidgeting in the classroom, can’t do a sit-up or a pushup, have inadequate social skills, are clumsy and can’t function in collaborative group activities with peers. They don’t seem to be able to think for themselves or solve problems on their own. Compared to past generations, many children can’t keep up physically, socially, cognitively and emotionally.

But labeling these kids “troublemakers” or as suffering from “attention-deficit disorder” isn’t the answer — diagnosis (clinical or anecdotal) doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Let’s look at the root cause. These could be symptoms of clinical disorders, but based on the sheer quantity of sensory and motor deficits seen in many children today — they are more than likely a result of the child’s environment. Being indoors much of the day, being on screens an average of 7.5 hours a day and having adults curate all of their extracurricular time is harming our children and making them sick.

We can’t expect children to sit for hours on end, interspersed with little movement breaks and not expect consequences to their development. Children need at least three hours of outdoor play on a daily basis in order to foster healthy sensory and motor development. Children need opportunities to go upside down, climb trees, run as fast as they can, use their imagination, test their strength, care for each other’s scraped knees, roll, climb, balance and even spin in circles. All of these activities use their brain, activate their muscles both big and small, and engage the senses. This lays the foundation for being able to pay attention, listen and learn in a classroom setting.

So the next time you pick your children up from school, take them to an open field and let them explore for a while. On the weekends spend the day at the beach, even if it’s not sunny and warm — there are benefits in all kinds of weather. If it is raining outside, let your kids play in it. Force them if you have to! Encourage kids to ride their bikes to friend’s houses. Get to know your neighbors and create a community that watches out for the children so that they can play outdoors whether you live in an urban or a rural setting.

It’s time to rethink the environment our children spend most of their waking hours in to allow for more outdoor play and movement throughout the day. Let’s recall the 5-year-old “problem child” who couldn’t sit still in class. Now place him in a school environment that incorporates lessons outdoors. In order to learn about plants, he spends days with his classmates creating a garden behind the school grounds. To practice writing letters, he writes with a stick in the dirt. His physical education class is shooting hoops outside or mountain biking on nature paths in the woods. After school, he takes off with his sister to go build forts at the rock pit in his neighborhood. Along the way, two other children join them, as they make decisions about when it’s safe to cross the street, whether to climb some boulders on the way, and what type of materials they will use to build their fort with. Imagine the changes we would see in this child.

Studies indicate that when children switch from spending hours primarily indoors and sitting at a desk to one where the child is free to move and play throughout the day, the results can be drastic. Problems of poor attention and extra wiggles all but dissipate, and children become attentive and active learners. Unrestricted time outdoors fosters a joy of learning and confidence in one’s abilities — two critical elements in the classroom and in life. All it takes is some time and a place to play outside.

As a society we’re making great strides toward obesity prevention. While we are working to keep our children at healthy weights, we must also strive to ensure healthy behaviors, attitudes, sensory function, strength and coordination. This is true health, and to get it, our children should be introduced to a lot more outdoor playtime with their peers. Sixty minutes of movement is not enough!

Top 10 Benefits of a Private Elementary School

“Private schools excel at meeting the individual needs of each child and ensuring progress in both academic and social development. Private schools also provide a robust learning experience that helps parents effectively raise the whole child.”
—Chris McDuffie, M.A., R.R.W
Private School Educational Consultant

According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), there are over 2,000 independent schools providing high-quality and individualized education to more than 700,000 students from pre-K through high school. Why do so many parents choose a private or independent school for their child and why do so many discerning parents choose The Meadowbrook School?

1. HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS. Independent private schools, like The Meadowbrook School, nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, and encourage critical thinking. A larger percentage of students at independent private schools are enrolled in advanced courses than other schools.

2. SMALL CLASS SIZE. Independent private schools have low student-teacher ratios that encourage close connections with students. The median ratio in NAIS schools in 2011-12 was 8.8 students to 1 teacher (meaning that half have a higher ratio and half have a lower ratio).

3. EXCELLENT TEACHERS. They usually teach in their areas of expertise and are passionate about what they do. With more autonomy within the classroom, teachers are able to develop a full understanding of how each student learns and what interests and motivates each individually.

4. EDUCATION FOR THE WHOLE CHILD.  Independent private schools nurture not just students’ intellectual ability and curiosity but also their personal and social growth and civic conscience.  Opportunities extend well beyond the classroom to athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and school leadership experiences.

5.  INDIVIDUALIZED ATTENTION.  With smaller classes and a focus on the development of the whole child, independent private schools deliver more individualized attention to each student.

6.  INCLUSIVENESS.  The Meadowbrook School, like many independent private schools, maintain diverse and vibrant student communities and welcome and respect each family.  In 2010-2011 students of color were 25.9 percent of total independent private school enrollment.

7.  A COMMUNITY OF PARENTS WHO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION.  Independent private schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals for the student.

8.  THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHOOSE A SCHOOL WITH A MISSION.  You can select a school whose philosophy, values, and teaching approach is right for your child.


10.  AND MOST IMPORTANT:  An education that will pay dividends for a lifetime.