Making the Grade: A Parent’s Educational Resource Guide from A to Z
Who can help your second grader handle homework without hysterics, teach your teen to pass his road test without driving you crazy, instruct your little bambino in Italiano? It’s all here. Everything you need to know about everything educational—but didn’t know whom to ask.
By Laurie Yarnell
Illustrations by Christoph Hitz
That little mini-you who shares your address is struggling (yet again) with “8 times 7” and “42 divided by 6.” Or perhaps she’s pirouetting into your glass coffee table or papering your kitchen with an avalanche of permission slips. So you need to find a tutor, or a ballet school, or an organizational wizard—ASAP. Relax. We did our homework and came up with this “Who’s Who” and “What’s What” of educational and enrichment resources in the county. So whip out the PalmPilot, Filofax or some plain old paper and pencil, and get ready to take some notes.
A is for
A tad perturbed that your petite Picasso or Manet-in-the-making has taken to expressing himself on your brand new silk wall-covering? Of course, his masterpieces are as good as anything you’ve seen lately at the MoMA, but stillâ€¦ Worried that your Oriental rug could be next? Enroll him in one of these visual arts programs designed for the local pint-sized sketchpad set:
â€ºâ€º katonah art center
77 Bedford Road, Katonah
â€ºâ€º The Rye Arts Center
51 Milton Road, Rye
(914) 967-0700; www.ryeartscenter.org
â€ºâ€º Westchester Art Workshop
Westchester County Center
196 Central Avenue, White Plains
27 North Division Street, Peekskill
(914) 734-4680; www.sunywcc.edu
B is for
Think your talented little tot-in-a-tutu has future prima ballerina potential? (If not, a little tush in tights is still always an irresistible sight.) These ballet studios provide excellent training, with plenty of photo ops for mom, dad and a gaggle of kvelling grandparents:
â€ºâ€º The Ballet Class
At the Rye Arts Center
51 Milton Road, Rye
Contact: Lynn Steston, director
â€ºâ€º Northern Westchester Center
for the Arts
272 North Bedford Road, Mt. Kisco
(914) 241-6922; www.nwcaonline.org
â€ºâ€º Steffi Nossen School of Dance
216 Central Avenue, White Plains
Satellite Studios in Chappaqua, Mamaroneck, Pleasantville, Scarsdale and White Plains
(914) 238-1900; www.snsdef.org
C is for
If your child has hit high school, you’ve probably started to stress about college apps and those simply sadistic SATs. Don’t. Put these numbers on your speed-dial instead.
â€ºâ€º The Cooper Course
175 Main Street, White Plains
Contact: Joan Cooper
FYI: Students (and parents) rave about these courses; the SAT score of one youngster we know went up 410 points! Costs: PSAT or SAT six-session course: $795; SAT II Writing Test prep also available.
â€ºâ€º Pound Ridge Learning Center
4 Trinity Pass, Pound Ridge
FYI: Recommended by private schools’ counseling departments. SAT I recommendation (not required): six hours each verbal and math, for a total of 12 hours. Cost: $115/hour.
D is for
Okay, your teen is driving you crazy about (among other things) getting his license. And yes, while you’d love to give up chauffering him to New Roc, soccer practice and the SAT tutor (see “C” above), you’re a bit leery (okay, terrified) about his getting behind the wheel. Value your life and or your sport utility wagon? Hire an experienced, professional driving instructor. They’ve seen it all—and lived to tell the tales. PS: They pick up and deliver NASCAR-wannabes in specially equipped teaching vehicles.
â€ºâ€º Center for Driving
189 Main Street, 2nd floor, White Plains
(914) 682-0600; www.centerfordriving.com
â€ºâ€º Formula One Driving School
584 Mamaroneck Avenue, Mamaroneck
(914) 381-0987; www.formulaone.baweb.com
â€ºâ€º Port Chester Auto School
127 Westchester Avenue, Port Chester
E is for
How to make the best match between your child and a school, independent boarding or public? Engage an expert to help you evaluate the educational alternatives available. These will give you
an inside scoop on what various
â€ºâ€º A.D.D. resource consulting
156 Katonah Avenue, Katonah
Contact: Barbara T. Posner, MA
FYI: Specializes in students with
â€ºâ€º DuBois & Associates Educational Placement Services
15 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
(203) 629-2566; www.aadubois.com
â€ºâ€º Carol Gill Associates
369 Ashford Avenue, Dobbs Ferry
â€ºâ€º PEARL Glassman Counseling, Inc.
30 White Birch Road, Pound Ridge
F is for
Forget the dreary “Here-is-the-pen-of-my-aunt’s-brother” type exercises with which language teachers enjoyed tormenting you. If you’d like your child to parle francaise, habla espanol or sprechen deutsch, these schools make learning a language fun (think Rug Rats in Spanish):
â€ºâ€º The Language Exchange
83 North Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua
203 East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob, CT
â€ºâ€º Berlitz Language Center
1 North Broadway, White Plains
G is for
The journey to the Ivy League might just begin right here for future Einsteins and/or kids who just love to learn:
â€ºâ€º The Gifted and Talented
27 Siebrecht, New Rochelle
Contact: Dr. Andi Stix
FYI: Small after-school enrichment classes for students in grades 2 through 5.
â€ºâ€º The Gifted and Talented Center’s Challenge Camp
Tuckahoe High School,
65 Siwanoy Boulevard, Eastchester
(914) 779-6024; www.challengecamp.com
Contact: Carole E. Berman, director
FYI: One-of-a-kind summer program for talented students Pre-K through grade 9. Courses include “Wizards of Wall Street,” “Zainy Brainy Math,” “The Art of Architecture,” etc. Cost: 7 weeks; full days: $3,000; half-days: $1,500; 3 and 4 week sessions also offered. Scholarships available.
H is for
Tired of the homework hour hassle or having your child spin ever-creative “the dog ate it” excuses? Suggestion: delegate and relocate the whole shebang to one of these supervised help centers designed to handle homework without hysterics.
â€ºâ€º Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester
351 Main Street, Mt. Kisco
FYI: Open to all, with supervised help offered from 3:30-6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Included at no charge for sixth graders and older with $40 annual membership fee.
â€ºâ€º Homework Helper Program
Yonkers Public Library
Riverfront Branch (1 Larkin Center)
Grinton I. Will Branch (1500 Central Park Avenue)
FYI: Open to all students grades 1 through 6, with teacher-supervised help offered from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday (Riverfront branch). Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (Will branch). No charge.
â€ºâ€º Rye Free Reading Room
1061 Boston Post Road, Rye
FYI: Open to all elementary school students with teacher-supervised help offered from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. No charge.
I is for
Monica may have given the “i” word a bad name but don’t be quick to dismiss interning as a terrific educational opportunity and way for your high school or college student to pick up valuable skills while beefing up a future resume. Some worth investigating:
â€ºâ€º Katonah Museum of Art
Route 22 at Jay Street, Katonah
(914) 232-9555; www.katonah-museum.org
FYI: Its Educators-in-Training program offers intern opportunities in the learning center, slide library, on the web site and with traveling exhibits.
â€ºâ€º Muscoot Farm
Route 100, Somers
Contact: Joyce Soltesz, program director
FYI: Students 13 through 17 help with farm chores, weekend programs and special events.
â€ºâ€º Neuberger Museum of Art
Purchase College, State University of New York
735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase
Contact: Beverly Brigandi, coordinator of educational programs
FYI: Opportunities for college students to work with curator or painting crew on research or on projects of own choosing.
J is for
They love bugs, insects, worms and other creatures squiggly and slimy. (You don’t.) Their idea of a fun time is playing in the dirt. (Yours isn’t.) But your little naturalists will love these centers’ programs (so, you will too):
â€ºâ€º Greenburgh Nature Center
99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale
FYI: Preschoolers can choose from such classes as “Nature Bugs” or “Critters, Crafts & Kids”; after-school classes for older kids include “Nature Explorers” and “Junior Naturalists” plus wonderful family events. Class prices vary, with discounts
â€ºâ€º The New York Botanical Garden
200th Street and Kazimiroff Blvd., Bronx
(718) 817-8181; www.nybg.org
FYI: A truly incredible resource for workshops for kids from K to grade 8, including “Life in the Rain Forest,” “Roots, Shoots and Blooming Bulbs,” “Prose, Poetry and Plants” and “Forest Ecosystem Study.”
â€ºâ€º Teatown Lake Reservation
1600 Spring Valley Road, Ossining
(914) 762-2912; www.teatown.org
FYI: This nature preserve and education center is a terrific resource for classes (“Divine Decomposers,” Fish Tales,” etc.) plus special family events and workshops.
K is for
Share. Play nicely. Don’t eat the Play-Doh. Yep, a lot of what we needed to know we did learn in kindergarten. But what if your child’s first “big kid” school experience wraps up before lunchtime every day? (C’mon, the preschool day lasted longer.) Consider an afternoon extension program designed to take off where half-day kindergarten ends.
â€ºâ€º JCC on the Hudson
371 South Broadway, Tarrytown
â€ºâ€º Richard G. Rosenthal JCC of
600 Bear Ridge Road, Pleasantville
(914) 741-0333; www.rosenthaljcc.org
â€ºâ€º YWCA of White Plains and
(North Street Y)
515 North Street, White Plains
(914) 949-6227; www.ywcawhiteplains.com
L is for
Oh, what a lovely sight: your child not curled up with a good video game. Want to encourage your youngster to choose Tom Sawyer over “South Park” reruns? Make friends with the fabulous—and free!—Westchester County Library System. Cards are available at, and good for, all 38 county branches. In addition to books, many have books-on-tape, magazines, CDs, educational or literature-based videos and computer terminals with educational games as well as special programs for kids and teens, like these:
â€ºâ€º Chess Workshops/Tournaments
Yonkers Public Library â€“ Riverfront Branch
1 Larkin Center, Yonkers
FYI: For teens and pre-teens. Instruction on September 6 and 13 from 2 to 5 p.m.; tournaments on September 20 and 27 at 2 p.m.
â€ºâ€º Open Chess, Checkers & Scrabble Play
Harrison Public Library
1 Bruce Avenue, Harrison
FYI: Open to all ages on most Mondays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
â€ºâ€º Truck Day
Larchmont Public Library
(parking lot behind St. Augustine’s Church)
121 Larchmont Avenue, Larchmont
FYI: Kids will be able to explore an actual payloader, backhoe, bucket truck, etc., and browse through and borrow books on trucks on Saturday, September 13 from 10 a.m. to noon.
M is for
The academic advantages of music-making are well documented. So if you’d like your child to be moved by Mozart and Itzhak Perlman, rather than the Material Girl and Puff Daddy, take note of these excellent music schools:
â€ºâ€º Amadeus Conservatory
201 King Street, Chappaqua
25 Valley Road, Katonah
â€ºâ€º Hoff-Barthelson Music School
25 School Lane, Scarsdale
â€ºâ€º Music Conservatory of Westchester
216 Central Avenue, White Plains
(914) 761-3900; www.musicconservatory.org
N is for
Visual literacy is the new buzzword for kids of the 21st century. Living with a future Fellini or sprouting Spielberg? If you’d like to be thanked when your grown filmmaker snatches up his Oscar, start here:
â€ºâ€º Filmmaking for Middle School Students
Anderson Hill Road, Purchase
(914) 251-6500; www.purchase.edu/ce
Contact: Stephanie Nieves
FYI: Young filmmakers spend 12 Saturdays writing, directing, editing and acting in original movies while learning the art of visual storytelling, with finished works screened at a final film festival. Cost: $525/semester.
â€ºâ€º Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road, Pleasantville
(914) 773-7663; www.burnsfilmcenter.org
Contact: educational administrator
FYI: This county jewel offers an extensive array of family film screenings and educational programs including: the Seeâ€¢Hearâ€¢Feelâ€¢Film project for third graders (through school districts, $16- $28/student), an animator-in-residence program for 9- to 12-year-olds (no charge for disadvantaged school groups), and Cinemania, an after-school film club for seventh and eighth graders (no charge).
O is for
Is your household drowning in a veritable sea of expired permission slips, AWOL homework sheets and must-save art projects shedding glitter on the rug? Do bake sale notices and book orders just up and disappear in the Bermuda Triangle of your kitchen? September is the perfect time to get your household and your student(s) organized for the new school year. Store these numbers on your cell (if you can find it):
â€ºâ€º Oh, So Organized!
(914) 271-5673; www.ohsoorganized.com
Contact: Linda Samuels
â€ºâ€º Kathy Marcinko Consulting
1 Stone Place, Bronxville
P is for
All work and no play would make Westchester kids mucho cranky. So fortunately, when they’re not hitting the books, they’re usually hitting the party circuit—from birthdays and communions to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens and graduations, local kids can always be counted on to party hearty. Your turn to host the big event? Program these party planning pros into your PDA:
â€ºâ€º CoOrdinated Celebrations, Inc.
38 South Ridge Street, Rye Brook
â€ºâ€º Designs By Masque
700 Waverly Avenue, Mamaroneck
(914) 777-3817; www.davidtutera.com
Contact: David Tutera
â€ºâ€º Preferred Events
50 Legion Drive, Valhalla
Contact: Virginia Vetrano