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.

Do You Want Children Who Are Smarter and Have Superior Social Skills? Science Says Do This

Encouraging your children to do this will give them a major advantage, according to research.


Founder, Insight

If you’re a parent, you instinctively want what’s best for your children.

So, what’s one way to give your children a leg up–a single skill that single-handedly increases their chances at success?

Science says: Encourage them to learn another language.

Increased Intelligence

In recent years, scientists and researchers have made breakthroughs in their understanding of bilingualism. In the past, experts thought that learning a second language was an “interference” that hindered children’s academic and intellectual development. But in a New York Times article entitled “Why Bilinguals Are Smarter,” Yudhijit Bhattacharjee explains why this interference is actually a good thing:

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

Bhattacharjee cites research that indicates that “the bilingual experience” improves children’s abilities to perform other mentally demanding tasks, such as plan, solve problems, and stay focused.

But as a parent, you’re probably looking for more than just “smart” for your kids. How many of us want genius children who simply can’t relate to others? Can learning another language help children develop better social skills, too?

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Good for Social Skills, Too

Katherine Kinzler, an associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell University, published a new piece for the New York Times this weekend entitled, “The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals.” Recent research from Kinzler’s developmental psychology lab indicates that “multilingual exposure improves not only children’s cognitive skills but also their social abilities.”

For example, one study illustrates how multilingual children demonstrate better general communication skills than monolingual children:

We took a group of children in the United States, ages 4 to 6, from different linguistic backgrounds, and presented them with a situation in which they had to consider someone else’s perspective to understand her meaning. For example, an adult said to the child: “Ooh, a small car! Can you move the small car for me?” Children could see three cars–small, medium and large–but were in position to observe that the adult could not see the smallest car. Since the adult could see only the medium and large cars, when she said “small” car, she must be referring to the child’s “medium.”

We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at this task. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context. What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others: They have to think about who speaks which language to whom, who understands which content, and the times and places in which different languages are spoken.

In essence, children who speak other languages are more in tune with others.

What about children who speak only one language, but are regularly exposed to another?

Kinzler’s lab found that “children who were effectively monolingual yet regularly exposed to another language–for example, those who had grandparents who spoke another language–were just as talented as the bilingual children at this task.” (Italics mine.) However, Kinsey reports that the “exposure” children didn’t perform better than other monolinguals on cognitive tasks.

In other words, simply putting your children in touch with another language (even if they don’t learn to speak it fluently) may not necessarily increase their IQ, but it can give them superior communication skills and contribute to a broader perspective.

My Experience

As a child who was raised around multiple languages and cultures, I can vouch for the pivotal role these play in development. Although was surrounded by people of varying ethnicities, many of whom spoke more than one language (including some in my own family), I didn’t become fluent in another language until I reached my mid-20s. But my parents always encouraged familiarity with those other languages and cultures.

Because of this, I learned to see the world through different sets of eyes from a very early age. It was fascinating to me how a simple news report would elicit completely different responses from my mother (with a Portuguese background), my father (who is Filipino), and my (pretty diverse) American friends. These types of experiences helped me to realize that everyone’s perspective is different, and these perspectives are shaped by a myriad of factors.

To this day, I relate well to people from just about any background. When meeting people who come from an unfamiliar place, I naturally focus on what we share in common–but I’m always fascinated by the differences.

Putting It Into Practice

Of course, my research is far more anecdotal than that of Ms. Kinzler and her associates. And although I’ve never taken an IQ test, I’m sure it’s nothing to brag about.

But if you want to inspire natural curiosity and a love of learning in your children, remember this: You don’t need to be bilingual.

Just encourage them to be.


Partners with Franklin Institute to Benefit Pre-K–6th  

 Meadowbook, PA, March 2, 2016—On Saturday, March 12th from 10 am to 2 pm, the Meadowbrook School will host its annual Science Expo, a family-friendly event that is open to the public. This year’s theme is FLIGHT, and everyone in attendance is invited to complete a scavenger hunt for prizes, attend science programs, and participate in activities planned around the concept of flight. Additionally, representatives from Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute will visit the school and provide a live, one-hour science presentation entitled Flight. This event, perfect for pre-K and elementary-aged children, will take place at 11 am and 12:30 pm and is also open to the community.

Meadowbrook’s Science Expo is a non-competitive exhibition of students’ science collections, projects, and scientific experiments. All students, from pre-K to sixth grade, are encouraged to participate. This year’s expo will be on display in the Shuttleworth Gymnasium, and it will feature exhibits within the categories of life, earth, and physical science. The projects presented by Meadowbrook’s sixth graders will employ the Scientific Method, and students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of creating a hypothesis, conducting procedures, making observations, and formulating conclusions.

Science teacher, Mrs. Janice Mockaitis, oversees the Science Expo each year with a dedicated commitment to students’ learning. Notes Mrs. Mockaitis, “Meadowbrook’s science program is designed to help develop students’ innate curiosity of their world, acquire scientific knowledge, obtain scientific habits of mind, and encourage a positive attitude towards science.”

Additionally, the Meadowbrook School will host a special Admissions Open House over the duration of the Science Expo on 3/12, from 10 am to 2 pm (walk-ins welcome). Attendees will have the opportunity to visit the science exhibition during the tour. To register, please  contact Karen DiFelice at  215-884-3238 X132, and/or visit

About The Meadowbrook School

The Meadowbrook School is an independent, nonprofit, co-educational, nonsectarian day school encompassing preschool through sixth grade. The mission of The Meadowbrook School is to offer an unwavering commitment to academic excellence for a diverse population of elementary school children. The school believes education includes learning to appreciate the value of hard work, expanding a sense of integrity, and practicing humanity towards others while inspiring students to make a positive difference. We strive to have our students well prepared and eager to take on future challenges. For more information, please visit

 The Meadowbrook School is located at 1641 Hampton Rd, Meadowbrook, PA 19046. Phone Number: 215-884-3238.

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BB&T Contributes EITC Support to the Meadowbrook School

bankoneMeadowbrook, PA; February 24, 2016 – Head of School, Michael Reardon, welcomed Steven Orozco and Brad Barone of BB&T to the Meadowbrook School to thank BB&T for its generous contribution made possible through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.  The role of BB&T is to assist schools such as Meadowbrook with their banking needs.

This generous donation represents the fifth EITC gift, Meadowbrook has received from BB&T formerly Susquehanna Bank.  The EITC program provides tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a Scholarship Organization such as Meadowbrook. Business contributions are then used by our school to provide tuition assistance in the form of scholarships to eligible students to attend our school and receive a quality education.

About The Meadowbrook School

The Meadowbrook School is an independent, non-profit, co-educational, nonsectarian day school encompassing preschool through 6th grade. The mission of The Meadowbrook School is to offer an unwavering commitment to academic excellence for a diverse population of elementary school children. The school believes education includes learning to appreciate the value of hard work, expanding a sense of integrity, and practicing humanity towards others while inspiring students to make a positive difference. We strive to have our students well-prepared and eager to take on future challenges.

For further information please visit our website

About BB&T
BB&T is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with $209.9 billion in assets and market capitalization of $29.5 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., the company operates 2,139 financial centers in 15 states and Washington, D.C., and offers a full range of consumer and commercial banking, securities brokerage, asset management, mortgage and insurance products and services. A Fortune 500 company, BB&T is consistently recognized for outstanding client satisfaction by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Greenwich Associates and others. More information about BB&T and its full line of products and services is available at


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All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Monday morning assemblies with Coach Matt are always inspiring. This morning was no different.  He ended his assembly by having one of our students read Robert Fulghum’s poem, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. It is true and we try to be sure all our Meadowbrook students know this, too!

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first words you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

The Meadowbrook School Plans Event to Celebrate National School Choice Week

10426548_10153066593999233_12326071528780189_n[1]The Meadowbrook School will hold a special event on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 8:00 AM to celebrate National School Choice Week, school leaders announced today.

This event will feature a pep rally recognizing students and teachers.

The Meadowbrook School is an Independent school serving grades Preschool–6th grade with a student enrollment of 120.

The Meadowbrook School is one of more than 12,000 schools participating in National School Choice Week (January 24–30, 2016). The goal of the Week is to shine a positive spotlight on all types of education options for children—from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling. The event will be held at our school.​

“We are thrilled to have The Meadowbrook School participate in National School Choice Week by holding this special event,” said Andrew Campanella, National School Choice Week president. “The Week provides an opportunity for families in communities across America to discover more about the education options available to children. We salute the students, teachers and staff at The Meadowbrook School for their dedication to providing a quality education for children, and for their involvement in this nationwide celebration.”


What do I expect from my children’s elementary school? Certainly not this!

By: Valerie Strauss

Laura Eberhart Goodman is a former classroom teacher and writer on “The Synapse” on Medium. Her work has been published on the YouShare Project and in the upcoming IAGC (Illinois Association for Gifted Children) annual journal. You can find her musings on the value of creativity, unstructured play, and the importance of preserving childhood on her blog,, where this piece appeared. She was raised on a farm north of Baltimore and lives in Richmond with her husband and two children. In this post, she writes about her concerns about the experiences her children are having at elementary school. It’s not what she had hoped for or expected.

By Laura Eberhart Goodman

When I put my children on the bus in the morning, the wish I call out to them after kissing their heads is, “Have a good day!” Pure and simple.

Now, I know that not every day can be a birthday party, and not all things in life should be made into a fun activity. My wish is not overly naive or idealistic, it is simply that they enjoy their day at school. It is my hope that even if there are moments of the day when things don’t go well, or times when they are frustrated, or they find something to be particularly challenging, the overall feeling when they return home is not negative.

I want them to have had enough positive experiences, enough moments of engagement, enough creativity and fun built into their day that “good” is the predominant mood descriptor.

That is not currently the case.

The children that I get off of the bus are exhausted. They are frustrated. They are overworked. They are burned out. I feel as if I should make them a weak whiskey on the rocks, hand them their pipe and slippers and leave them alone for an hour to decompress.

It takes them a bit of time before they can think of something positive to tell me, and usually it ends up being something that happened during recess or lunch. I would blame the teachers for this bleak attitude, but I was one, and I know that the teachers are just as tired, frustrated and overworked. Their teachers are trying to inject as much fun into the day as possible, but are obligated to keep up with deadlines, adhere to the curriculum and meet the standards. No, this pressure is coming from high above. And it is squishing my children with its weight.

For my elementary-school-age children, I care more about whether or not they love going to school than I do about their academic progress. I am clever enough to know that if they are enjoying themselves at school, they will learn. Academics follow naturally if the proper environment for learning is there.

From a parental perspective, a good learning environment is one with positive energy. The teachers want to be there, and the children want to be there. No one is counting the minutes to the end of the day before it has even started.

From an educator’s perspective, an environment that is engaging, hands-on, with opportunities for meaningful learning, practice, discussions and creativity, makes kids happy. When kids are happy, they learn more, and without having to resort to bribery. It’s not rocket science.

When the learning environment becomes very serious and relies heavily on assessment and grades, learning targets and goals, it is not as enjoyable. It is “work,” and children don’t enjoy work. It’s not in their nature to enjoy work; children are created to learn through play.

You will have as much success asking a tiger not to have stripes as you will asking children not to play. I was watching two children at the post office the other day waiting to get passports, and they had been there for quite a long time. They developed a game using one of their jackets and entertained themselves nicely with it. It is as natural as breathing for children to play. What defines “play?” Any activity that engages the imagination and creativity, two skills that lead to innovation and problem solving when practiced often enough.

We can’t expect them to do work in the same way that an adult does work. We are not the same. They don’t have to pay a mortgage, and I get to stay up as late as I want to. One is not better or worse than the other; they are different.

In this classroom, the kids can’t sit still
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In classrooms across Charleston, S.C., lessons come with exercising. Moving makes the brain ready for learning, schools say. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

Just because students may have to sit in an office for eight hours a day when they are adults, doesn’t mean that they should have to start practicing it now as children. It is like saying to a 10-year-old, “One day you’re going to pay taxes, so I’m going to keep 50 percent of your birthday money from Grandma because I want you to get used to it.”

There’s a proper time for everything.

Why has elementary school become the time for instructional and assessment methods that are more appropriate for high school and college students?

We aren’t expecting 8- and 9-year-olds to vote in the next election, or pay their own car insurance, or stay out late with a boy that we hate, so why are we expecting them to sit for six to seven hours a day and do paperwork? Why are we expecting them to be able to concentrate for hours at a time to take multiple-choice tests? It’s not the right time for that. They aren’t ready, and they shouldn’t have to be ready.

School systems can’t say they are raising the standards, then force elementary school students to perform like high school students in their work. The amount of testing and assessment in elementary school is at a level that is not appropriate until students are more mature.

There are gigantic gaps in elementary education when the emphasis on academics is pushed down to the lower grades. Young children need time to develop skills that are a crucial part of the foundation of a solid education, and that time has been taken away. You’re educating children to know the life cycle of a plant in the first grade, when they haven’t learned how to tie their shoes or button their own pants after using the restroom. Maybe the focus should be on teaching them how to learn instead of on what to learn.

You want to know what’s wrong with your kindergartener who can’t sit still?

Probably nothing.

He’s in kindergarten and he’s not supposed to sit still for six hours a day. It would be weird if he did.

You want to know what’s wrong with your third-grader who can’t focus on her work?

Probably nothing.

She’s bored and under-stimulated because instead of learning through play and exploration, she’s reading nonfiction passages without pictures and writing convincing five-paragraph essays about them.

It’s backwards logic that is being hailed as the solution to low test scores. Forcing more and more curricula on students at a younger age and a faster pace doesn’t make them better students. It doesn’t teach them skills. It gives them a shallow pool of non-relevant information that they may not remember past the test and don’t know how to apply in real life.

It does do one thing well; it weeds out the “academically successful” students from the “non-academically successful” students really quickly. Is that the goal?

Standards-based learning and “rigorous” testing are not going to be successful in elementary school, unless your goal is to get children to hate education at a very early age.

Elementary school should be about exploration and exposure to vast amounts of very well-written books. Writing should be an opportunity to capture observations and imagination in a tangible form. Elementary education should include learning about history through storytelling, art and music. It should be about dancing and singing and playing while developing social skills, communication skills and interpersonal awareness.

Elementary school science should be about questions and wonders, experiments and all things messy. Math should be taught as part of nature and daily life, and if it were introduced that way, children would not be afraid of it when the numbers show up. There should be no limit to the topics that can be explored in elementary school. It should be about how to become a learner … not about curriculum, and definitely not about testing.

We should be setting children up for academic success when they are of the age to truly achieve it, instead of expecting them to accomplish it when they are entirely too young and then being shocked and outraged when they fail.

I want a school where both of my children, two vastly different learners with different strengths, want to go to learn. I want a school where creativity is cherished, and there is ample time for thinking, connecting, discussing and enjoying what they’ve learned. I want a school where the question isn’t “What did you get on the test?” but “What did you do with what you learned?”

Above all, when I see their sweet little faces get off of the bus, and I ask them how their day was, I want to hear, “My day was great!”

The Optimist’s Creed

At assembly on Monday, Coach Matt shared with our students Christian Larson’s The Optimist’s Creed.  In his talk with the students he lead by example admitting that he made a mistake leaving the heat on all weekend in the gym, acknowledged that, asked for forgiveness and moved on to get a pie in the face from Johnny. Thanks, Coach Matt, for the words of wisdom and for being a good sport! Want to see Coach Matt get pied?

“Promise Yourself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,not in loud words but great deeds.To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.” – Christian D. Larson

Coding at Meadowbrook – a note from Domonique Wilson, technology teacher

coding1  Hello Parents!

Exciting news! Beginning in January, the students will be starting “Intro To Coding” as a new addition to the computer technology curriculum here at the Meadowbrook School. Students will learn the basics of pattern building and will create a series of commands for the computer to follow. We will have a chance to incorporate coding to do fun activities such as creating games and website building further down the line. There are even beginning concept activities provided to get preschool, pre-K and kindergarten students prepared for the future of coding and programming.
Also, for those interested and available, your local apple store will be hosting a series of free “Hour of Code” workshops for kids ages 6+. If interested in the Willow Grove Mall location, the upcoming and currently available workshops are on Saturday December 12th at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday December 13th at 10:15 a.m. To sign up or find out more information, check out and look for “The Hour of Code Youth Workshop.” The apple store will be using some of the same resources we will use here at Meadowbrook, so this may be a nice preparation as well as we enter into January. I am so excited, and I know the students will be too!

Perfect Gifts for your son or daughter

Your child may be begging for a Purple Sky mermaid tail or a scarab robot, but once the tissue paper is crumpled, you know these aren’t the things that will change their lives or really make them feel your love.

So how do you find that special gift for your child that actually means something?

If you know your child’s love language, you can use it to uncover the perfect gift. Love languages are how people express or experience love, according to family therapist Gary Chapman, bestselling author The Five Love Languages: the Secret to Love that Lasts. Here’s how he defines them:

Words of affection: Kind words, particularly praise, mean love to those who “speak” this language. Saying “I love you” (and why) matters.

Acts of service: Making life easier and being helpful represents love.

Physical touch: These people need human contact: kisses, hugs and handholding communicate love.

Receiving gifts: It seems obvious, but this is really about the thought and effort behind the gift. The gift says I’m thinking of you, I know you, and I appreciate you.

Quality time: Time and undivided attention let this person know they’re loved.

Gifts by language

Here’s how your child’s love language can inspire your holiday giving:

Words of affection — A note from mom or dad (or both) telling them all the things that make them wonderful could be something your kids choose to keep forever. Hint: Go deep. Talk about your daughter’s adventurous spirit that makes her explore caves, not just her cute smile. You might also consider a personalized gift. In addition to his name on a soccer ball for your sun, add those special words of love as well. Finally consider recording a special message — maybe sent to their new phone!

Acts of service — Create a coupon book for your child who sees love in acts of service. The coupon book could include doing those special things that make them feel loved whenever they need it: that special mac and cheese meal, the break from a dreaded chore, a special cup of tea in bed.

Physical touch — How do you wrap up a hug and kiss? Along with the hug or kiss, a massage, manicure or pedicure might thrill a teen, or a special dance night might be just the thing for your rambunctious little one. Give a young child a super huggable stuffed animal and tell them it is filled with unlimited hugs from you for them. For the older kid, you could give them a special throw blanket for watching TV together.

Receiving gifts — This should be easy. But if you really want to speak their language, remember that the gift is about knowing them and showing how much you care for who they are. Don’t get them something to change them, like an organizer, unless that’s their goal. This isn’t the time for the useful gift of socks, unless you knit them yourself. More than anything, this is a symbolic gift of your love. It might remind them of a special time you shared together. It might cost nothing — like an old necklace from your mother — but mean the world.

Another little thing about giving this person a gift: They usually appreciate the wrapping, so make it pretty.

Quality time: Where does your child like to go? Take her there. Special time with just you and you alone, and your child is going to feel the love. It’s okay also to take him somewhere new that’s special to you. This is the child who will appreciate that you want to share that with him.

A little warning: They’re still kids. They may not react with the same amount of joy as they will to a fancy toy. But the toy will be forgotten. Your gift has a chance of strengthening their spiritual and psychological core and live on in their memories.

By: S. Michelle Fry