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“Orffing” around at Oak Hill Academy

      by Pamela Momyer, M.M. Juilliard

At Oak Hill Academy, one of the best private schools in New Jersey,  students receive the highest quality education and music plays a major role in that curriculum. Music education is not only top-quality but unique as well.  Children learn best when engaged, and each class experiences music through “singing, saying, dancing, playing.” These are the four foundations in which children best learn to understand and experience music as stated by Carl Orff, a renowned music educator:

"Elemental music is never just music. It is bound up with movement, dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer. "  Carl Orff

There are no textbooks, no notebooks, and no desks in the music room at Oak Hill Academy.  Instead, there is a full “instrumentarium” of percussion, barred instruments including glockenspiels, xylophones, metallophones and a marimba.  From Pre-K through progressing grades, classes are carefully planned with fundamentals of music built in to each class. Orff philosophy is based on scaffolding, that is constantly building on learned concepts that steadily move forward from the earliest learners through upper school students.

In a typical music class, students will be learning and experiencing rhythm through activities that may involve speech, singing,  body percussion (clapping, patting, etc.), transferring this physical rhythmic sensation to instruments. Ensemble playing is created through combining of varied rhythms and instruments.  Teamwork is used to make the final product successful. The result is enthusiasm in music-making!

This happens time and time again at all different class levels.  Music education at top private schools such as Oak Hill Academy is not just drills and repetition.  It is an immersive physical and mental activity that makes music a fully engaging and enjoyable experience for the students.


Posted by pbruckmann  On Dec 11, 2018 at 11:46 AM
  

Getting Your First Grader Excited About Reading!

Emily Cash

First Grade Teacher at Oak Hill Academy



We all know it can be a challenge to get your first grader excited about reading. After a long day at school comes homework, practice, and playdates. The last thing our child wants to do is sit down and read with you for 20 minutes. Here in first grade at Oak Hill Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey, we make it a priority to help our students develop a love for reading! However, there are things you can do at home to help foster that love for reading outside the classroom.


  1. Personal Library

The first grade classrooms at Oak Hill Academy have libraries set up for the students. The libraries have a wide selection of books from different genres, authors, and reading levels. When our students are in the classroom, they are taught how to search and identify the perfect book to read. By having a personal library at home, you can help foster “easier reading” at home.

Start by having a designated place to store all your child’s books at home. Make sure that all of your books are arranged in some sort of order. For example, have the books grouped by author, genre, or reading level. Make sure to either label the books, or go over them with your child. Once your child is familiar with their personal library, they will have a much easier time selecting a book to read. A rule of thumb I like to use with my students is: if the book has more than three words on the page that they don’t understand, it is too hard for them. They need to put that book back and select another one.

Now that there is a designed library at home, sit down and have a simple conversation with your child about what books they like to read. If they are having a hard time, prompt them with books you have read together before or with books from the library. Get an idea of what your child likes to read and begin to fill your library with those types of books. Scholastic has great book selections or go to your public library and check out some books to start!

The more your child is interested in the books, they more they will want to read!


  1. Change Up Your Routine

If you are always reading at night, right before bed, your child might start to dread reading time. Try changing up your routine. Read with your child at a different time of the day or in a different setting. For example, have a cozy corner in your house. Make it fun and inviting with pillows and blankets. We have a cozy corner in our classroom where students can bring their book with a pillow and read quietly. My students know the cozy corner is not for playing or talking, but for getting lost in a good book, and they love it! Best Monmouth County Private School

 

You could also read with your child outside at a park, in a tree house, or make a tent and read in there with a flash light. There are so many ways to be creative with reading at home that will get your child excited to open a book! One idea that I love and works well in my classroom is Flash Light Friday. Special Fridays out of the year, the students get to bring in a flash light and a book of their choice. For 15 minutes, I turn out all the lights. The students get to read their books in the darkness with their flash lights on.

Some other great ideas are:

  • Record them as they read and play it back for them so they can see and hear themselves. You could even have them challenge themselves after they watch the video to record themselves reading the same book again but see if they can do it with better fluency or expression.
  • Have them read aloud to a younger sibling, cousin, grandparent, neighbor, etc.

  • Have them read to aloud to a pet.

  1. Saving Books For Later

An issue that comes up in the classroom from time to time is books that are too hard to read. I have had students select a book that looks interesting to them, but once they start to read it, they discover it’s too hard. They then begin to get discouraged and don’t want to read anymore. A simple solution that I have found effective is saving that book for later.

I will explain to the student that I think the book is too hard to read right now. Instead of taking the book away and making them pick a new one, I read the first couple of pages to them to get them hooked on the book. Then I tell them how we are going to save this special book for another time. Doing this is much better than having them pick a new book right away. By allowing them to read it at a later time, the child still feels like their book choice was validated and that they were able to still hear part of the book that they chose. They also know that that book is waiting there for them to finish reading at another time when they can comprehend it easier. Once you have done this, help them select a new book that is similar in genre or subject as the pervious book. That way they are still able to read a book they are interested in, verses one their parents are making them read. All of this helps to still capture that excitement for reading!


  1. Becoming Their Own Authors

Here at Oak Hill Academy, we know that reading and writing go hand in hand. We promote writing not only in language arts, but across all subjects! You can walk into our classrooms or down our hallways and see them filled with student writing!


This promotion of writing can be carried over at home because great way to help with reading fluency is writing. Have your child write their own story or book at home. For example, say your child loves outer space. Have them read a story they want about outer space to you or with your help. Once they have finished the book, and you have talked about it, encourage them to write their own. Having your child think about how they want the sequence of their story to go, the characters, the setting, etc. they will in return start to notice these elements in their reading. All of this ties together to help drastically improve their reading comprehension. Bonus, it helps with their overall writing as well!

Tip: I know writing a book can seem like a hard task to get your first grader to do. However, just like getting them engaged and excited about reading, you can do that with writing too. A great way to get your child excited about writing is have them become real authors and “publish” their stories. Have your child write their story, but have them write their final copy special paper. Depending on their typing skills, they could even type up and print their story. Another way to publish their story could be by having them record and/or make a video of themselves telling their own story. Of course, they can illustrate their favorite part of their story to tie it all together!




 


Posted by pbruckmann  On Dec 04, 2018 at 9:58 AM
  

Maureen Daly

8th Grade English

Why Read the Book...Blog #1


Why Read the Book When I can See the Movie or Use SparkNotes?


Whether students admit it or not, often, shortcuts are taken when it comes to an assigned novel study.  It could be time constraints, misplaced books, or any number of reasons. Here, at the best private school in Monmouth County, I always encourage my classes to stop short-changing themselves for several reasons.


Here are some of them:


Why Read Literature:

  • There is power in stories.
  • It is both an intensely personal as well as a communal experience.

  • It can spark our imagination.

  • It fosters communication.

  • It challenges us to make connections, to question, to notice details and to make sense of things.

  • It helps us examine different perspectives...You need to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a while…
  • We can make connections to the rest of the world.
  • It helps us to be open to new ideas.

  • We can visit other times, places and cultures.

  • And, great literature moves us to become better people.


So, the next time that you are in a rush, slow down.  Open the book. Read every single word. Devour it. And, its story will become yours for life!


Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 26, 2018 at 1:49 PM
  

WE’RE HAVING FUN IN MATH CLASS! ~Mrs. Rita Cotterell, Upper School Math Teacher


Did you ever expect to read “fun” and “math” in the same sentence? Do you remember sitting in math class watching the clock waiting for the class to end? Is doing math homework for both you and your child the most dreaded time of the day?

The ultimate compliment for me is when my students are sorry to see that class ended.

So, what is the secret?  Games!

Game playing is a very natural way for students to reinforce a concept they are learning in class.  The games can be computer-based, but many of the games my students play during class are not.

This week alone, we played two games in my 5th grade class and two games in my pre-algebra class.

My 5th grade students at Oak Hill Academy, a private school located in Monmouth County, New Jersey were learning exponents.  Once I was satisfied that they understood the fundamentals, I took out a very soft ball. We played a little game of catch.  I called out an exponent question and whoever caught the ball had to answer it. If the student gave an incorrect answer, he or she sat.  

The second game was an easy to make Bingo board of exponent questions.  As I called a power, the students had to see if their board had the question and if so, they had to solve it.  The first person who got four powers in a row on their board received a sticker of their choice. The kids loved it and asked if they could play it again!

My pre-algebra class is working with signed numbers.  The first game we played was a simple game of war with the underlying math concept of comparing positive and negative numbers.  The black cards represented positive numbers and the red cards represented negative numbers. The math game followed the usual rules of war; whomever had the card with the greater value won the pair.  

We played a second game also using a standard deck of cards to practice adding signed numbers.  Each student placed a card from their hand on the desk, the first person to add the cards correctly won the pair.  The students love this game and always ask to play again.

If your child is having trouble with their multiplication tables, consider getting four standard playing dice. Roll two at the same time to get one factor and roll the other two dice to get the second factor.  See how many times in a row they can get the correct answer.

If your child is having difficulty rounding decimals, you may want to consider giving him your sales receipt from the grocery store without the total on it to see how close your child comes to it.  

There are so many easy ways to create mini math reviews.

So, yes, we are having fun in math class; we are building the necessary foundation and mastering skills which is why I believe our math program makes Oak Hill Academy the best private school in Monmouth County, NJ.



Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 15, 2018 at 10:44 AM
  

Students Make a Splash at Oak Hill Academy

~Kimberly Abraham, Lower School Physical Education Teacher


“Get your feet wet” is a phrase that you hear often, especially in a school as a pep talk to students who are hesitant to try new things.  But, here at the best private school in New Jersey, you hear that phrase because students are literally getting their feet wet, as swimming is a part of the curriculum at Oak Hill Academy.

So what are the benefits that swimming has on a student’s health?   

1.    Physical- Swimming is a great cardiovascular activity because it keeps your heart rate up.  It is one of the best things that you can do to stay fit, burn calories, prevent childhood obesity, tone muscle and build strength.  It takes impact off of your body by supporting it in water, which puts less wear on it over time and can still be done if you have any weight bearing injuries.    

2.    Mental- Swimming improves brain function, lowers stress, reduces anxiety and depression and improves sleeping patterns.  Being in a pool produces a natural, positive response. Swimming throughout the school day awakens and motivates the students and leaves them happily ready to succeed in the rest of their classes at one of the best schools in Monmouth County, NJ.

3.    Social- Swimming can be both a team and individual activity.  It is a great opportunity for students to gain confidence in themselves and each other as they achieve personal and team goals by learning new skills and continuously improving.  Swimming is also a leisure activity that is widely enjoyed outside of school, and the skills that they learn at the pool at Oak Hill Academy is something that they will take with them forever.

Swimming is unique because of the buoyancy of water, which means that it is something that everyone can have fun with, regardless of skill.  When students are having fun, they engage more with one another and more likely to participate and be active. Positive experiences in activity as a child lead to a lifetime of physical, mental and social health.  With benefits like those, it’s no wonder that the students of Oak Hill Academy are so swim-pressive!

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 15, 2018 at 10:30 AM
  

Is Your Child Receiving the Best Science Education Possible?

Three Things to Look for in a K–4 Science Program

by Mrs. Cahalane, Lower School Science Teacher

Oak Hill Academy, Lincroft, NJ


1. Science class at the elementary level must be a hands-on program. Teachers need to create a curriculum that allows children to DO science, not just read about it. The K–4 science class should not consist of teachers lecturing & demonstrating. There must be a hands-on component where children are actively engaged in the topic being taught. Teachers need to create science lessons that encourage children to BE scientists- allowing them to inquire, explore, and investigate on their own.




2. Science class must be taught twice per week without exception. Many teachers carve out science time but sometimes use it to catch up on standardized test subjects such as reading or math. Science is as important as the core subjects & teachers cannot substitute a science block with another subject. Make science a priority!

3. The elementary science curriculum needs to contain at least one STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) component at every grade level. A good STEM lesson should start with giving children a problem & then asking them to solve it using the 4 STEM fields without the help of a step-by-step guide provided by the teacher. Encourage children to think on their own & to learn through trial and error.  The teacher becomes the "guide on the side" rather than the traditional "sage on the stage." For example: challenge first graders to build bridges. The point of the challenge is not to memorize facts about bridges and what makes them stand. The point of the STEM lesson should be –how can you MAKE a bridge that stands and does not collapse when weight is put on it? Allow children to use everyday materials –paper towel tubes, empty tissue boxes, colored paper, etc. –to make their own bridges and see for themselves what works and what doesn't. Sure the teacher can give a step-by-step guide on how to make the best bridge but isn't it better to allow the children to figure this out for themselves?

Oak Hill Academy is a private school in NJ. The PK –4 science curriculum adheres to the 3 tenets listed above and is just one of the things that make Oak Hill Academy one of the best private schools in Monmouth County. To see photos of the science program in action, please take a look at Mrs. Cahalane’s Instagram account, @science_oakhillacademy.

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 15, 2018 at 10:30 AM
  

Humans are social beings and being surrounded by people is a part of our daily lives.  So for children, school is where, for ten months a year and six hours a day, they must find their comfort zone and navigate through their surroundings.  We are all goal-setting people by nature and being happy as well as successful are human targets that we all set.  So what are the ingredients that contribute to our children’s self-worth and stability in school? Best Nj Private School

At Oak Hill Academy, one of the best private schools in Monmouth County, we have identified the 11 most notable conditions that will set the stage for children to flourish and to develop deep self-confidence.  We now examine these in no particular order since they all carry equal weight and one might be more meaningful depending on the individual child.

  • Being challenged and engaged – The school day must bring a high degree of adventure and discovery.Each new encounter must bring a sense of achievement.
  • Having a caring adult – Besides the child’s parent/s, the student’s teacher must be there to listen, support and help plan a learning adventure.
  • Having room to grow both physically and mentally – We all need our own space to test our individual talents and to try new things without the fear of failure.
  • Having space to think and be creative – Having the time to explore and use one’s imagination brings a great deal of personal satisfaction.
  • Being accepted by peers – As a child’s individual talents begin to blossom, so does the need for all of us to feel that our thoughts and feelings are valued by others.
  • Being known and respected – Schools must be at a place where people know who we are and respect us for our special character traits.
  • Best Monmouth County Private SchoolHaving time to relax – Learning doesn’t have to be stressful.When our children socialize and play, they have the opportunity to test out their talents, feelings, and relationships.Time is needed to just feel free to be ourselves.
  • Making friends - Schools, by their very structure, are places where children will develop life-long friendships that will contribute to a social network of support.
  • Having the ability to express themselves – People learn best when they share their thoughts and have others listen to what they are thinking.In turn, hearing others also gives children room to evaluate their own opinions.
  • Having parent support and understanding – Parents are, of course, one of the main ingredients in a child’s happiness.They are there for support and act as role models.They must, however, not be all controlling; rather they should give the child the sense of independence and offer them the space to make mistakes and regroup in order to move ahead.
  • Helping others – Children in school have the opportunity to help others become the best they can be.Assisting with schoolwork or listening to others’ thoughts also brings good feelings to our children.

Schools are, therefore, a place where our children can experience a wide-range of human emotions and challenges.  The best elementary school for a child must be a laboratory to grow into a happy and successful adult.

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 13, 2018 at 8:49 AM
  

Our children today are living in a fast moving society which often times creates stress where it should not necessarily occur.  Homes and the best elementary schools should be places where our kids can simply feel comfortable and cared for.  There are ways that we can provide for our children’s safety and well-being while still not sheltering them from real life realities.  This balancing act needs a good blend of helping to build a solid sense of individual strength while maintaining an established support system.  Ultimately, we want our kids to be able to stand on their own two feet as they mature through each level of childhood.  The following is a list of suggestions that might be helpful to assist children to grow into responsible and caring adults.

     Best Monmouth County Private School     1.  Respect Them – As an private, independent school, Oak Hill Academy holds respect high on the traits list we wish for all of our community.  As role models, we can demonstrate how we must treat each other.

          2.  Be understanding when they have a difficult day.  Children especially need that helping hand when things don’t go as planned.

          3.  Give them good choices and encourage them to make good thought out decisions.

          4.  Respect the choices they make.  Either with play, friends, hobbies, and school.

          5.  Be silly together!  Nothing brings families together than a good laugh.

          6.  Make time to be with them.  Heavy schedules often mean limited time together as a family.  Make the best of these by having quality time together.

          7.  Let them play outside.  Being outdoors has a great many benefits including fresh air, nature study, and room to run.

          8.  Inspire their creativity.  Young children must be encouraged to explore by writing, drawing and building.

          9.  Help them learn something new.  Today our world is an open door to adventure everywhere be it in museums, other countries, or via the Internet. Best Private School NJ

          10.  Accept them as they are.  Children are unique in their personalities and mannerisms.  Take these as special gifts and allow them to grow.

          11.  Talk honestly with them.  Families are dynamic social institutions.  Honest dialogue can build strength and endurance.

          12.  Trust them.  There will be times when a little slack can bring a more willingness for children to confide when times become difficult.

          13.  Be available.  Often children simply just need that assuring word or look.

          14.  Encourage them to help others.  Besides the obvious benefit to others, we get some special internal rewards when we reach out to others.

          15.  Daydream with them.  Remember, the best is yet to come.  Dreams are the starting point to a life filled with possibilities.

          16.  Encourage them to think big.  Remember when we shoot for the sky, even if we miss, we will be amongst the stars.

          17.  Help them learn from mistakes.  Taking some well thought out risks often don’t work out.  However, mistakes lead to great corrections which prepare us better for the next try.  Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

          18.  Tell them what you expect of them.  Believe it or not, children really do want our guidance when going forward.  As parents and teachers, our expectations for them as they move forward provides valuable guideposts.

        Best Monmouth County Private School  19.  Expect their best; don’t expect perfection.  People’s talents are like seeds, needing patience and energy to grow.  Add time to this mix and our best keeps getting better.

          20.  Give them independence.  Achieving one’s best means venturing out and gaining the ability to steer our own ship.  Personal greatness starts with independence.  As adults, we must give our kids the space to feel in control of what they experience.

          21.  Help them cope.  Ever have a bad day?  Guess what, it is a part of the human condition.  Human experiences have the full range of emotions from fear to glee.  Getting through bad times builds strength and resilience.  Our kids need our understanding when things happen.  Have faith, they’ll bounce back.

          22.  Help them find a passion and support their desire.  As our children pass through their formative years, they pick up signals of what in life makes them feel rewarded.  With your assistance, this passion will grow no matter where it is found.  Science, music, business, art, technology, education, writing, media, etc.  Let them explore.

          23.  And last, but not least!

Love them, no matter what!

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 13, 2018 at 8:49 AM
  

We are living in an information society.  Information is the new capital and material with communication the new means of production.  With this as our focus, we at Oak Hill Academy, a private elementary school, have embarked on a very exciting program for our students which we have entitled, “Explorations”.  Utilizing our state-of-the-art tech facilities, we are offering our students some of the latest tools to assist them to gather information, analyze data, and to draw conclusions.  Through the interaction with electronic media, cooperative learning, and real-life issues, our students are challenged with open-ended questions and projects which will stimulate their creativity, problem solving ability, and critical thinking.  Students experience topics in social studies, humanities, and science, while recording their work in individual portfolios.  A necessary requirement is for the student team to do a presentation in the form of a power-point, lecture, debate, or multi-media vehicle. Best Private School Monmouth County

            As an independent school in Monmouth County, New Jersey, our goal is for our students to be active seekers of knowledge in a learning lab environment.  This program finds students working with teacher mentors while in groups pursuing topics of personal interest which they have a passion to study.  As students move through the “Explorations” process, they find topics of interest which they can work on independently, work through roadblocks and failures, finish a published product, and then finally share with an audience.

            In Explorations, there is no lack of access to information; however, the key is to find good information.  There is no quick fix, but the benefits are paid in seeing independent, creative, engaged learners.  A by-product of this program is that students are refining their communication skills both written and verbal.  They often learn so many things that were never expected from their initial topic project which may lead to other areas of interest.

            Participants consume so much more content than they produce, from videos to articles online to music.  ThisPrivate School Monmouth Countyapproach helps them learn how to consume well and then produce something worthwhile from it.  Gathering new ideas and information is one thing; however, when students know they must parse all of that into a product, a presentation, a website or something else – it can really focus their effort.

            In conclusion, students will be entering a workplace vastly different than that of their parents.  Employers will want individuals with the ability to assemble, unify and evaluate information, as well as communicate that information.  The best school programs such as Oak Hill’s Explorations curriculum help develop collaborators, writers, critical thinkers and speakers needed by today’s society.  We realize that textbooks no longer define what is taught and real world study keeps curiosity as a priority which promotes effective learning environments that stimulate interest and engage all learners.

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 13, 2018 at 8:48 AM
  

NAIS Graduates are Prepared

The National Association of Independent schools across the United States are preparing their students more than ever for college and beyond.  The statistics are in and they are staggering. Best Private School Monmouth County

          Oak Hill Academy in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is one of those independent schools and continues to be educating high achievers who are well prepared for all aspects of their future schooling as well as ready for the society that they’ll be joining.

          Nearly 100% of the graduates of NAIS schools go on to college ranging in majors from journalism to nuclear physics.  They come out of school with SAT scores on average 293 points higher than other students.  They also enjoy being challenged academically with 76% of NAIS students stating that their schoolwork makes them curious to learn more and 74% enjoying tasks that require a lot of mental effort.  These grads are over three times more likely to attend top-ranked universities than graduates of other high schools.  The foundation for this success is built in the strong academic atmosphere found in independent elementary and middle schools.   Here children are presented with the skills to be better readers, writers, mathematicians, and just outright thinkers.  These children also develop a sense of social responsibility as they perform community service.  As they move on to high school they tend to be more capable of asking good questions, formulating logical arguments, and communicating well thought-out ideas.  They use their knowledge and skills to be leaders and to collaborate with their peers. Best Private School Monmouth County

          It has also been found that 29% of NAIS grads were extremely active in key extracurricular activities compared to 19% of public school graduates and nearly 45% held leadership positions in a club/organization.  These roles helped them develop time-management and communication skills.  Participation in these extracurricular activities also show higher levels of well-being later in life.

          Byproducts of an independent school education also encompass a host of other factors.  Self-confidence and being able to take well thought-out risks lead these grads to careers which use their imaginations to seek innovation.  They tend to be deep thinkers who are able to take on challenges as well as to measure situations to make good decisions.

          Also, because of the broad exposure to varied curriculum, NAIS grads build curiosity and global awareness.  It is also found they can think on their feet, have a good amount of resilience, and possess very effective social skills.

          For parents who are committed to sending their children to NAIS schools, they realize that their financial investment will have far reaching consequences and will pay great future dividends when these students become adults who are fulfilled and successful in their chosen fields of endeavor.

Posted by pbruckmann  On Nov 13, 2018 at 8:47 AM
  
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