Category: Navigating Chicago Schools

Summertime School Prep

With summer appearing on the horizon, it is easy to put thoughts of school on the back burner.  With lots of new experiences, people and surroundings coming this fall as your child enters a new school, take advantage of this time to prepare yourself and your child for the coming transitions.


Pass by your child’s new school so the building and surroundings become familiar.

If you can, meet the teacher.  Even just using the teacher or school’s name positively helps your child f...

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM by GEMS World Academy Chicago

Keeping Children Engaged During the Summer

Those lazy days of summer are right around the corner. How do parents keep their children mentally engaged and physically active until their return to school in the fall?

How you engage your child and keep her/him motivated will depend on your child’s age. Vital to this process is going with the interests of your child. This requires some parental reflection. Think about your child. What does your child like to do? What excites your child? What does your child want to know more about? ...

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM by Jane Nolan

Five Ways to Reinvigorate Your School Search

For Chicago’s young families, admissions season is a flurry of dates, deadlines, research and introspection.  The beginning of the process feels exciting and enlightening as families explore the plethora of options that exist in our city, both public and private.  As time goes on, excitement morphs into anxiety and stress and the idea that admissions decisions are out of their hands can make families feel like they are at the mercy of the system.  Letters of acceptance, non-acceptance or w...

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM by Laura Gradman

Admissions Decisions are Out! Now what?

You have dutifully adhered to all of the deadlines and checklist items, and now the time has come – admission decision notification day! With extensive experience in independent school admissions, here are my tips on how to navigate this new phase of the admissions cycle.

1.     Acceptance: Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid-off and you have been admitted to one or more schools. Your work is done, right? Not necessarily. Even if you have been admitted to your first choice,...

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM by GEMS World Academy Chicago

When Your School Choice May Not Be Working Out...

When we first enrolled our eldest child in a prestigious private school, we thought we had his education all figured out. “What a relief,” I remember thinking—and saying—to everyone I knew. Though the private school was not exactly affordable for us, we were grateful to be able to send our son to a top-notch school without having to navigate the complexities of Chicago Public Schools. Then school started.

About two weeks into Elliott’s first year, we received a call from his teacher in...

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM by Leah Harp

How to Get Involved at Your Child's School

Educational research and anecdotal stories all agree that parental involvement in their child’s learning is hugely influential and can impact strongly on their success in school. Yet, very few schools truly have exemplary and interactive relationships with their parents and make the most of this key partnership.

How can we promote this within our schools? Here are a few small steps to begin this conversation.

1.  Talk to the teacher. Do not ever be afraid of the perception of being...

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM by GEMS World Academy Chicago

Catholic School’s Week: Get to Know Your Community Schools

Sunday marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week (CSW) for Archdiocesan schools throughout Chicago. The week-long celebration occurs every year about the same time. I’m sure many of you are asking “What exactly is Catholic Schools Week?” and “What does this mean for me?”

In the simplest form, Catholic Schools Week celebrates the uniqueness of each school, showing gratitude to those who make Catholic education possible – the parish, parents, teachers, faculty and staff. Each school k...

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 8:00 AM by Marjorie Hill

What is Play-Based Learning?

As the Director at Mary Meyer School, one of the things that I often find myself explaining to parents is “What is play-based learning?”  That’s easy to explain.  Sort of.  Basically, our students learn through play.  What does that mean exactly?  Do they just play all day?  Well, the answer is yes and no.  Children do play, but play for them is work.  As they maneuver their way through the schoolhouse they learn about turn-taking and the use of phrases like “Can I use that when you’re fin...

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 7:56 AM by Mary Meyer School

Early Musical Experiences For a Brighter Baby

While your baby may not remember their first music class, exposure to music during the first three years of life boosts early brainpower. Kim Schiefelbein, Director of Music at Bubbles Academy, shares five reasons why there is more to a lullaby than lulling your baby to sleep.

New parents typically sign up for music class to meet other new parents and to further bond with their baby. Parents learn new songs, quickly realizing that a mini maraca is a “must have” for their diaper bag! Wh...

Posted on January 09, 2014 at 7:45 AM by Kim Schiefelbein

Educational Technology in Your Young Child’s Life

In my classroom, we have two simple rules for using tablets: be gentle, and try not to sneeze or drool too much. The kids laugh when tell them this. It is a joke for the most part. But I see our students’ eyes open wide when they catch a glimpse of an iPad, and I do wonder if they begin to salivate.


Tablets have burst onto the educational landscape with remarkable speed. While children clamor to get their fingers on the nearest touch screen, parents and educators must weigh the tech...

Posted on December 27, 2013 at 8:00 AM by Creative Scholars Preschool