Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
www.ecsnj.org friendsofelysian.org
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

November 16, 2015         Vol. 11  Issue 10
Please note that the school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day.  Please send news to lynne.shapiro@ecsnj.org by 1:00 PM on Mondays.

The weekly newsletter is archived on Elysian's website, www.ecsnj.org, so that you can always access both the most recent newsletter as well as all previous ones.
Harry's Corner
From the New York Times SundayReview |May 17, 2015  

Let the Kids Learn Through Play
TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up.
The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.
But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn.
One expert I talked to recently, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., describes this trend as a “profound misunderstanding of how children learn.” She regularly tours schools, and sees younger students floundering to comprehend instruction: “I’ve seen it many, many times in many, many classrooms — kids being told to sit at a table and just copy letters. They don’t know what they’re doing. It’s heartbreaking.”
The stakes in this debate are considerable. As the skeptics of teacher-led early learning see it, that kind of education will fail to produce people who can discover and innovate, and will merely produce people who are likely to be passive consumers of information, followers rather than inventors. Which kind of citizen do we want for the 21st century?
In the United States, more academic early education has spread rapidly in the past decade. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have contributed to more testing and more teacher-directed instruction.
Another reason: the Common Core State Standards, a detailed set of educational guidelines meant to ensure that students reach certain benchmarks between kindergarten and 12th grade. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both the math and language standards.
The shift toward didactic approaches is an attempt to solve two pressing problems.
By many measures, American educational achievement lags behind that of other countries; at the same time, millions of American students, many of them poor and from minority backgrounds, remain far below national norms. Advocates say that starting formal education earlier will help close these dual gaps.
But these moves, while well intentioned, are misguided. Several countries, including Finland and Estonia, don’t start compulsory education until the age of 7. In the most recent comparison of national educational levels, the Program for International Student Assessment, both countries ranked significantly higher than the United States on math, science and reading.
Of course, these countries are smaller, less unequal and less diverse than the United States. In such circumstances, education poses fewer challenges. It’s unlikely that starting school at 7 would work here: too many young kids, disadvantaged or otherwise, would probably end up watching hours of TV a day, not an activity that promotes future educational achievement. But the complexities of the task in this country don’t erase a fundamental fact that overly structured classrooms do not benefit many young children.
Some research indicates that early instruction in reading and other areas may help some students, but these boosts appear to be temporary. A 2009 study by Sebastian P. Suggate, an education researcher at Alanus University in Germany, looked at about 400,000 15-year-olds in more than 50 countries and found that early school entry provided no advantage. Another study by Dr. Suggate, published in 2012, looked at a group of 83 students over several years and found that those who started at age 5 had lower reading comprehension than those who began learning later.
Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance. Rebecca A. Marcon, a psychology professor at the University of North Florida, studied 343 children who had attended a preschool class that was “academically oriented,” one that encouraged “child initiated” learning, or one in between. She looked at the students’ performance several years later, in third and fourth grade, and found that by the end of the fourth grade those who had received more didactic instruction earned significantly lower grades than those who had been allowed more opportunities to learn through play. Children’s progress “may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children’s developmental status,” Dr. Marcon wrote.
Nevertheless, many educators want to curtail play during school. “Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything,” says David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University who has studied the topic for decades. “But it’s essential to their development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.”
Over the past 20 years, scientists have come to understand much more about how children learn. Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent his career studying how the human brain develops from birth through adolescence; he says most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than didactic explanation. “The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration,” he says.
Reading, in particular, can’t be rushed. It has been around for only about 6,000 years, so the ability to transform marks on paper into complex meaning is not pre-wired into the brain. It doesn’t develop “naturally,” as do other complex skills such as walking; it can be fostered, but not forced. Too often that’s what schools are trying to do now. This is not to suggest that we shouldn’t increase access to preschool, and improve early education for disadvantaged children. But the early education that kids get — whatever their socioeconomic background — should truly help their development. We must hope that those who make education policy will start paying attention to this science.
David Kohn is a freelance science writer based in Baltimore.
Basketball Season at Elysian

If your child intends on playing basketball for the Elysian team just a reminder to sign up online through Hoboken recreation. The due date for online registration is November 30th. On another note, I sent out Elysians basketball registration form last week. If your child is interested in playing we would need these forms back no later then this Friday, November 20th. Once we have a better understanding of how many children have signed up we will then let everyone know when tryouts are. Thank you. 

Adam Froimowitz
Friends of Elysian – Meeting & Open House - Thursday!
The Friends of Elysian, the school’s fundraising group which is part of the Campaign For Elysian, would like to invite you to a meeting and open house this week, on Thursday, November 19 at 5:30 PM through 7 PM in the school building. (If you can’t make it at 5:30 PM still feel free to stop by!)  
We know what you’re thinking, “Oh man, I love meetings!” Okay, maybe you’re not thinking exactly that, but we really would love for you to come.  
We’ll be discussing plans for this year as well as listening to your ideas and feedback. (And there will be lots of ways to get involved beyond just the “asking for money” part.) So, even if you may not be looking to volunteer right away, but you’re still curious as to what’s going on, please come on by for a general update. Everyone is welcome!   
Plus, thanks to our friends at Kings Food Markets, we will have some delicious refreshments: If you like cheese, cookies and supporting Elysian, this meeting is for you! (Sweet, savory and supportive!)  
Plus, thanks to our friends at Kings Food Markets, we will have some delicious refreshments: If you like cheese, cookies and supporting Elysian, this meeting is for you! 
Any questions, please email us at: friends@ecsnj.org
Good News: Alexandra Lee's Paintings Included in Hoboken Artist Tour 

More Good News: Eduardo Hernandez, Elysian 3rd Grader, in "On Your Feet" on Broadway
Eduardo Hernandez will be on Good Morning America Wednesday morning before heading off to dance in the matinee performance of this hit Broadway show, where he is a member of the cast.  He plays young Emilio Estevez.  He was off to meet President Obama today and he'll be dancing in the Macy's Parade Thanksgiving Day!  

Tickets to Cuba Vibra! This Thursday, 4:30 PM

It's not free - but it's almost free - $2 for kids tickets/$5 for adult tickets!
From Havana, Cuba, with superior synchronicity, 18 dancers fill the stage with flavorful finesse as they seamlessly dance in lockstep to the Afro-Cuban beats and vocal virtuosity of a big band on stage.   
  • If you wish to attend the performance with your child, or have your child go with a friend or family separate from the Elysian After School Program,  please email Lynne Shapiro for tickets ($5 adults/$2 children):  lynne.shapiro@ecsnj.org
  • If your child participates in the After School Program, and you wish your child to travel as part of the After School Program, please complete the permission slip below.  Please note that bus tickets are included in the price.
 I give my permission for my child,______________________________, to attend the 4:30 PM performance of  CUBA VIBRE!  at The New Victory Theater on Thursday, November 19.   I understand that he/she will be taking the public bus to and from New York with the After School Staff.
 _______________________________________  __________________________
parent/guardian name                                                  signature     
_______I’ve paid online via Orgsonline          ______I’ve enclosed $10 for tickets and transportation. 
Please note:  The performance is 1 hour and 45 minutes (including one intermission).   Please be waiting for your child/children at Elysian for pick up at 7:00 PM. 
KUUMBA Day SEWERS (that is people who sew) Wanted!
Many hands make light work!  Please let us know if you are able to sew a few squares of African fabric onto our dancers' tee shirts - you will be greatly appreciated.  The shirts will be given out to the 3rd graders just before they take to the stage on January 9th.
Please call or email  Lynne Shapiro:  lynne.shapiro@ecsnj.org.
PTSO Corner
KidStuff Coupon Books – the fundraiser has ended!  Please return the books or payment by Tuesday to the main office.  The tracking sticker on the back of the book will let us know that you returned it. 
Photo retake day is set for Friday, November 20th.  Details to follow.
PTSO dues – Thank you to all those who donated to the PTSO dues collection!  We had 58% participation this year.  Thank you also for those who donate their time – a very valuable and immeasurable resource!!  
No Brainer Moneymakers
Easy Ways To Raise Money for Our School At No Extra Cost To You. 
Shop through our storefront for Shutterfly and sign up for Amazon Smile, iGive and Target and just shop as usual!! It just takes two minutes!!  Pass along to your friends and family too!
  •  Shutterfly, TinyPrints and more -  Go to http://elysiancharter.shutterflystorefront.com.  Shop as usual.  No need to sign up, just use this link.  

  • Amazon Smile - http://smile.amazon.com/  Click on ‘change your charity’.  Select Elysian Charter.  Bookmark this address.   Shop as usual. 

  •  iGive -Go to www.iGive.com/ElysianCharter .  Fill out name, Password and email.  Click ‘Register Now’ button, install iGive button.  Shop!  You might have to click on a pop-up screen to verify at certain online stores.

  •  Target -  Go to www.target.com , click on REDcard and then ‘Learn about REDcard’.  Page down to ‘Take Charge of Education’ and click on ‘Learn More’.  Enter information under ‘Sign me up’ and click ‘Enroll’.  
Hoboken Homeless Shelter Paper Drive
Daniel Henson and Henry Plotka from the eighth grade are conducting a paper goods drive for the local homeless shelter. We are asking for paper goods such as paper cups, towels, plates, bowls, plastic forks, knives and spoons. In the downstairs lobby/entrance of the school, there is a box with a sign that says “middle school food drive". The shelter is in need of these items so we encourage you all to donate. Thanks!
Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education:  Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you!
November Calendar
Monday, November 16
  • Parent Conferences 
Tuesday, November 17
  • Parent Conferences
Wednesday, November 18
  • Angela's kindergarten class has a trip.
  • Half Day of School for Parent Conferences, 12:30 dismissal.  After School Program available as ususal.
Thursday, November 19
  • Josie's kindergarten class has a trip
  • Parent Conferences continue
  • Friends of Elysian Meeting and Open House, 5:30 PM.  Refreshments served.
Friday, November 20
  • Photo retake day
Monday, November 23
  • 4th/5th grade day long trip.  Evening ETA, 6:00 PM
  • Open House for prospective parents, 6:00 PM\
  • Board of Trustees Meeting, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, November 25
  • Half Day of School for Thanksgiving holiday, 12:30 dismissal, After School Program available until 4:00 PM ONLY.
Thursday, November 26  and Friday, November 27
  • School closed for Thanksgiving
Monday, November 30
  • Deadline for Basketball registration

1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | harry.laub@ecsnj.org | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576
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