Danielle Mowery, Brooklyn mother and founder of Building Dyslexia Awareness, is “always on the lookout for ways for [her son] to learn that don’t involve traditional academics and emphasize his skills.” Organizations across the country are developing dynamic programs to teach science, math, music and art outside of the regular classroom experience. This week, we search high and low for these amazing opportunities and learn, in the process, that the possibilities are more than we ever imagined.
Brooklyn Historical Society has found a successful way to go off-book: the organization has created the Young Curators program, which enables young people to learn the ropes about how to become historical curators, through a 10-week in-school residency with a BHS educator. Special Cultural After School Adventures (CASA) grants from New York City Council Members help to support the kids as they are encouraged to expand on their extracurricular experiences and out-of-class education. A history lesson that doesn't put you to sleep!
One excellent institution that offers French immersion and language lessons is the French Institute Alliance Française. There are year-round courses for toddlers, kids and adults to improve on their French skills in private or online classes; you can even sign your family up for lessons all together. Next time you’re at the French bistro down the block, you won’t be stuck with the baguette.
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has collaborated with the New-York Historical Society to create a specialized program for 8th through 12th graders preparing for standardized tests and with an interest in American Studies. The courses are a great way to get some extra help for your children or engage them in subjects they truly can't get at school. Other interesting courses include “Hip Hop History in Context: Thinking Outside the Bronx,” “Propaganda! How Rumors, Racism, and Nationalism Shaped WWII,” and “Unladylike Behavior: Women Making History,” all of which are taught by top educators in the city.
One New York school that is altering the way students learn in their schools is the Harbor School. Courses range from aquaculture and marine biology to boat building and sailing. Students can even enroll in Advanced Diver Certification, Scientific Diver Certification and Rescue Diver Certification classes to learn lifelong skills not traditionally taught in New York classrooms—ones that will take you to deeper depths.
“Will that skill be essential for the rest of your life?” questioned Ms. Mowery. “Maybe not, but the skill of mastering something new will be invaluable.” And an appreciation for an increasingly influential culture is one of the best ways to encourage kids to keep an open mind. China Institute's classes host distinguished speakers with experience. Families looking for a personal or small group experience can elect to take private lessons or participate in family workshops.
Pictured is a rendering of the museum's new planetarium in downtown Miami, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
With all the distractions of the city, it seems there’s never really time for much of anything—particularly not for enjoying those very distractions. You and your kids have your hands in this and that, lending your limited and often sparse attention to a cultural event here, or a social gathering there, but when was the last time you forgot about the ticking hands on your watch face and took joy in the simple act of being together?
For the next seven weeks, we follow families that do.
Each day, with every meal and chore, these New Yorkers take a step back from it all. From neighborhood outings to museum visits, we connect with parents and their kids about how they keep their busy schedules in check and make time for what matters at the end of the day, when soccer season is over and to-do lists are crossed off: each other.
We also look to Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago to see what they have to offer families who are searching for ways to be a part of each others’ everyday lives.
When it comes to your family, who doesn’t have a moment to spare?
Week One: From the Comfort of Your Front Yard
Week Two: Fashion, and Family: A Lifestyle
Week Three: Art and the City: A Family Affair
Week Five: Around the World in So Many Ways
Week Seven: The Tradition of Coming Together