NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Teaching reading helps with NYC gifted and talented test prep

As parents, we all want our children to be voracious readers.

Reading is the basis for so many academic skills, and reading often can increase your child’s vocabulary, attention span, and even his or her IQ! And of course any early reading you practice with your child will be of great assistance to those tough questions on the OLSAT test given for the NYC gifted and talented test. 

When their children are too young to read on their own, most parents read books to their children. Bedtime stories are an age-old tradition, and they are a great way to spark an early interest in — and love for — reading in your child.

I want to talk about an activity that can help your child gain even more from reading. Dialogic reading is a technique that makes reading more interactive: instead of just reading a book or chapter from beginning to end, you and your child have an ongoing conversation about the story as you read. The technique varies based on your child’s age and the type of book you’re reading; you should also keep track of what questions spark his interest and how well he’s responding to what you say.

After every page or two, you’ll want to use the PEER (Prompt, Evaluate, Expand, Repeat) sequence, which consists of the following:

  • Prompt your child to say something about the story: Ask an open-ended question about the plot, or ask why or when something happened. You can also ask your child to reword what happened, or to predict what will come next. You can even ask her to tie the story into something in her own life (for example, “Do you remember when we went for a hike in the woods, like the characters in the book did?”).
    • If you are reading picture books with a young child (2 to 3 years old), you can ask her what a certain picture is, or craft a what/where question (“What color is the car? Where is it going?”). You can also create a sentence and have your child fill in a blank (“Look at this car. Its tires are black and the hubcaps are ___________”).
  • Evaluate his response: If your child gets an answer right, give him positive reinforcement. If he’s wrong, don’t explicitly say so; rather, gently correct his answer (“It did seem like Mr. Smith went to the store on Tuesday, but actually it was Wednesday. They made that part tricky.”)
  • Expand on your child’s answer: This can be done either by adding more information to your child’s response and/or rephrasing what she said. (“Yes, the farmers did go to the market, and they also went for a hayride after that”).
  • Repeat your initial prompt: Here, work the expansion you just added into the prompt. So, for example, ask your child when the hayride occurred, or who went on it.

This technique isn’t just fun; it is a great way to put your child’s reading skills on the fast track. In a study, researchers found that children whose parents used dialogic reading for four weeks scored 6.5 to 8 months farther ahead than children who were read to in a standard fashion.

Part of making your child a better reader is helping her become a better listener! Watch the video below:



“Journalist” from Alt-right Publication Attacks Testing Mom!
September 11, 2017, 1:54 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags:

Uninformed reporter attacks a company whose mission is to help children

I was browsing online and found this article from the alt-right Federalist publication. The journalist (I use that term loosely in this case) was in full fledged attack mode against Testing Mom and the way they market their program. This reporter was basing her whole assumption of this incredible program based upon a few subject lines and marketing tactics she claims that “scare” parents into submission. I really take issue to this attack with absolutely no statement offered from Testing Mom in the article.

I assume this “journalist” did her due diligence and asked TestingMom.com about their program and what they stand for. Although, I saw no statement from Testing Mom in this article. As the Testing Mom tag line states: Involved Parents. Successful Kids.  Yes, that’s what it’s about: Parent Involvement! Study after study concludes that regardless of socio-economic status IF a parent is involved in a child’s education that child will have more success vs. a child who has no parent involvement.  The journalist also didn’t even mention the community service work that Testing Mom does with underprivileged kids in the S. Bronx in NYC. They sponsor a program called H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Excel). This program provides tutoring to these kids who are vying for a seat in the NYC G&T program and they had great results this last year!

The article insinuates (not so subtlety) that anyone who uses test prep programs like TestingMom.com (or others) is a neurotic helicopter parent who needs to take a Valium and stiff drink to leave it “up to chance” their child will succeed.  In other words, free-range parenting when it comes to a child’s education should be acceptable.

Many parents who live in districts that have gifted and talented programs (like New York City, Houston, Chicago just to name a few) have no other choice but to get into one of these coveted programs since their local school is sub-par. In some cases their child would have to enter the school through a metal detector and police screening. Not the type of environment I would want my 5 year old in by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe this reporter is lucky enough to live in an excellent school district or is privileged enough to afford some fancy private school for her kids.

Before attacking this company that only wants the best education for every child this reporter should do her homework. Or maybe she’s against homework too?

 



Back to school for PS 33 Chelsea Prep
September 7, 2017, 1:47 pm
Filed under: PS 33 chelsea prep | Tags:

Chelsea Prep PS 33 PTA Sends Welcome Message to Parents and Students

It’s that time of year again: the first day of school! The students and parents at PS 33 Chelsea Prep (One of the most popular district 2 NYC Gifted and Talented Programs) are ready to get back to G&T basics as we head into the fall season.  Here’s a welcome message sent out by the PTA at Chelsea Prep:

Welcome back!
Dear PS 33 Chelsea Prep families,

We are thrilled to welcome all new and returning families to PS 33. We hope your summer was filled with wonderful memories!

Please join us for our first PTA general meeting on September 18th in the auditorium at 8:45. You’ll be able to meet the Executive Board and learn all about PTA-supported programs that are available to PS 33 students. Please join us for a welcome breakfast following the meeting in the school’s garden.

Please consider volunteering at our school! Your ideas, time, and talents are truly needed. There are many areas where you can contribute and we will gladly match your time constraints and interests with needed tasks.

The PS33 PTA is looking forward to another exciting and productive school year!



Moms and dads share OLSAT test prep secrets!

Parents Best Prep Tips!

I want to share a bit of “inside information.”  Over the years I’ve asked New York City moms and dads to share their best tip for working with their child when preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests.  Here are some of my favorite answers – try what worked for them when you are working with your child.

Here’s what they said about preparing for the OLSAT test for the NYC gifted and talented program:

  • We always kept our test prep fun and playful by going to Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Park Slope to identify shapes, colors, categories and names of plants and flowers!
  • We worked on test-taking skills as much as we worked on the skill being assessed. It took a while for our son to understand that he really had to listen to and remember the questions being asked and that the pictures represented answer choices.  We taught him to listen to the instructions, look at all the answers, and eliminate what was clearly wrong.
  • At first, my son could only sit still and focus for about 10 minutes; every day we added a few more minutes to our practice until he could focus for almost an hour! We let him set a fun egg timer each time we worked – he got a kick out of setting the timer and hearing it go off.
  • We spent a lot of time working on our son’s listening and following directions skills because that was so important for test taking. We were able to do this while riding the 7 train from Flushing Queens into the city. He loved figuring out which train went where and how long it would take to get from Queens to the Upper East Side.
  • When questions were hard for my daughter, I talked through the logic with her so that she would ultimately know how to solve each problem.
  • I often pretended to be stumped by a question myself and let my child help me.
  • We played “school” and my daughter would teach me how to answer the various questions with her pretend workbooks. I was a “terrible” student so she had to work hard to explain things to me 😉
  • We did a bit of prep every day over a long period of time – just a little bit each day made a big difference. We saw lots of improvement over time.
  • During “Family Fun Time,” we had father-son competitions or contests between siblings using your questions, which my kids loved.
  • We played against each other – Every right answer would earn a point. Whoever got 30 points first won the game.  I made sure to answer some questions wrong, so my son would always win.  He loved correcting me when I made mistakes!

Keep the lessons fresh and fun is the big tip when preparing your son or daughter for the OLSAT test!

Of course, you can come up with your own to make sure you keep the lessons fresh and fun when preparing for the OLSAT test with your talented tot entering the NYC G&T program!



Common OLSAT test mistakes
August 30, 2017, 11:13 am
Filed under: OLSAT Test, OLSAT test prep | Tags: ,

Here are 5 other common mistakes young children make when taking the OLSAT test

These mistakes cost children dearly in terms of points deducted from their score:

  1. They choose the most obvious answer just to get the question over with.
  2. They rush through the test like it’s a race.
  3. They lose their focus.
  4. They don’t listen to the instructions.
  5. They don’t point clearly to answers, or they make bubbling errors.
  • You can fix it.

    • The bad news is that all children make these mistakes when they take tests for the first time, and they continue to make these mistakes for years if they aren’t taught how to avoid them.  The good news is that when you are practicing with your child, you will see your own child making these mistakes and you can gently correct them, and show them how not to make that mistake moving forward. This will help increase their test score dramatically.
  • Common Mistake Guide and Training.

    • When you sign-up as a member of Testing Mom, you will have access to a proprietary guide they prepared for you that illustrates the most common mistakes kids make on the OLSAT, along with instructions to you on how to correct each type of mistake that your child will make during practice for the test.

Here’s a fun video with an OLSAT question to ask your little one:

Once you’re alert to these common mistakes and you see your child make one during practice (and you will), just gently correct them (Training available on Testing Mom guides you in what to do).  Doing this will greatly improve your child’s OLSAT score, and it will take no extra study time!



OLSAT test scores

Why does a child a test like the OLSAT and score poorly?

When a child doesn’t score well on the OLSAT test a mom or dad often thinks, “Well, I guess he just didn’t know the material or prep enough,” or “I suppose she lacks in the skills they were testing!”

They couldn’t be more wrong. 

On tests like these, only half of your child’s score depends on her knowing the material or having the skills that are being tested.  The other half of the score depends on your child having good test-taking skills. 

Let me show you what I mean using a practice OLSAT Aural Reasoning question at about the kindergarten grade level.  [Read the question just once and see if you can answer it before you continue reading about it.]

Ask your child: Look at the shapes below. Circle means “strawberry.” Square means “chocolate.” Triangle means “butterscotch.” Choose the box that says “chocolate, chocolate, butterscotch.” *

To answer this OLSAT practice question, you first need to:

  1. Understand what you’re being asked to do.

    First your child has to understand what’s she’s even being asked here.  You’re being asked a question.  Each box represents a possible answer choice – 3 are wrong and only 1 is right.  You’re looking for the one that is right (not the one with the shapes she likes best).  When practicing with your child, teach her to understand the concept of a test question.

  2. Listen to the question.

    1. With OLSAT Verbal questions, your child has to listen to what is being asked.  The question can only be read once.  If he zones out and misses even one or two words in the question, he will have to guess at an answer.
  3. Consider all answer choices. 

    Your child has to take the time and have the focusing skills to analyze the answer choices.  Which one was chocolate? Was that the square or the circle? Your child might remember chocolate was the square and jump at the first square she sees – in the first box (wrong!).  When preparing your child, make sure they look at and consider every answer choice.

  4. How to make a smart guess.

    When a child can’t figure out a question, they often skip it (getting 0 points – bad idea!).  Or they’ll guess between all 4 choices (and likely guess wrong!).  In this case, two shapes have to be the same (“chocolate, chocolate”) and one has to be different (“butterscotch”).  We can immediately eliminate the 3rd and 4th choices because neither has two shapes the same and one different.  So if your child has to choose, choose between the 1st and 2nd   He’ll have a better chance of guessing right.  Teach him how to do this.

*By the way, the answer to the OLSAT sample question above is 2 – chocolate (square), chocolate (square), butterscotch (triangle).

If you think preparing your child is too hard to do it yourself then I always recommend finding a good tutor to help you out. I like the folks over at FasTracKids. They have locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. They can do a G&T assessment to let you know your child’s strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to both the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. Tell them I sent you!



Things at PS 33 aren’t hunky-dory any longer
August 16, 2017, 2:28 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

The school that once coined the term “NEST of the West” has fallen from grace with parents

Well, I’ve heard from 3 different parents over the past couple of months of their concerns on the direction at PS 33. The new principal, Cindy Wang, has now been there for 2 full years and things seem to be slowly crumbling piece by piece, at least that’s what I’m being told by these parents. These are the same parents who were so excited a few years ago when their talented tot started PS 33 kindergarten under the leadership of Principal Lindy. It seems now the tight ship that Mrs. Lindy ran is now entirely off course. I was told countless parents have pulled their child of these G&T program at PS 33 because they don’t feel it’s as academically rigorous as it once was. The gifted and talented teachers are being told to teach the same exact curriculum at the same pace as the gen ed program. Parents are left scratching their heads as to why they should schlep their kids across town to attend PS 33 when they could get an equal experience at their local gen ed school. Is the program at PS 33 really worth it? Some parents are now re-thinking their decision.

One mom that I saw outside of  Barnes and Nobel in Tribeca shared with me:

“The only reason I keep my daughter at PS 33 is because of the chess program. She loves it! If it wasn’t for that I’d pull her out immediately and go into our local school across the street.”

Another mom I spoke to at Shake Shack in Battery Park City (while slurping up a coffee milkshake) voiced:

“It’s really gone down hill since your daughter left and especially since Mrs. Lindy left two years ago. Not the same school it once was, that’s for sure!”

All the complaints I’m hearing are sad and I hope they aren’t true! But the parents I spoke to aren’t ones to complain unless there’s an issue and by no means would make up stories like this. It looks like with regime change comes with dumbing down the curriculum for all the gifted and talented students at PS 33. I suppose the bigger question is why have the G&T program at this school if there’s basically nothing different from the gen ed program? Seems like the principal is really out of touch with what the NYC Gifted and Talented Program is all about and why parents decided on PS 33 for their child.

Oh how Chelsea Prep parents wish the days of tough-as-nails Principal Lindy would return to the helm of PS 33 Chelsea Prep! Don’t know what you have until it’s gone.