Urban Mommys

A Site For Urban Parents!


That Gifted Thing Again

Khev reads a comicRecently I was told that my third graders’ teacher wanted him to test for what in New York City is called the ‘Lead Program’. She thinks he has a good shot at getting in. She isn’t the first of his teachers to say this and many other parents I know think I’m crazy for not working to get him into this program.


This is something that has been around in NYC for well over 30 years. I know because my sisters and I were in it back when it was labeled ‘Gifted and Talented’. (You can probably see why the name has evolved from that extra special moniker). And as the name has evolved, so has the program, which is to say today’s lead is a far cry from the old gifted class.


As far as public schools in Brooklyn go, my son goes to one that is in the top ten schools in the borough. Since the recession, it has had an influx of students whose parents have decided that rather than pay for their young children to go private schools, they will bring them and their accompanying resources to the local public school. This has had its plusses and minuses. The increase in ethnic diversity is a plus. The money is a plus: the parents have it and they have networks for fundraising that were previously unknown to the school – they bring in lots of great extracurricular programs and there is lots of new technology available to the kids that wasn’t before.


It’s kinda like the suburbs descended on us and it is cool. What isn’t so wonderful is that their children, who entered the school with all skills born of the perks of high incomes from birth, are concentrated in the Lead Program. There just isn’t enough room in the 3rd grade lead classroom for all the kids who passed the test which meant that the cutoff for getting in had to be raised. Even then, the class is packed to the gills and some children who in another school would have been in the program have to make due with the class right ‘below’ the lead, the otherwise top 3rd grade class. This is where my son has landed along with about ten other children that he has been in class with since kindergarten. I know some parents who upon having their child pass this test have pushed and insisted that their child be allowed in and have gotten their way.


I don’t feel like them. I know my child and the aggregate stress he would feel being ripped from his friends, having to learn to trust a new teacher, and the rigors of a higher intensity curriculum would outweigh the benefits that may be had from it. The amount of homework in the program is doubled from what my son gets now and it’s hard enough getting him to ‘remember’ to do all of it each night. Adding 40 to 60 minutes more per night would be a nightmare for both of us. I know from speaking with other parents and seeing them firsthand that the projects assigned to the students come in looking like they were done in a print shop by adults because most of them were. I don’t see the point of that, I finished grade school and don’t want to do projects again. I want my son to do them with the minimal amount of help but lots of encouragement, advice and oversight from me. And aside from my laziness, I believe that Khev has a great teacher and has had great teachers. Having students like Khev that they feel can be challenged more has caused a couple of his teachers to devise their own in classroom projects and programs to challenge these students.  To me, that’s a win-win situation for all of the students in the classroom and for the teachers as professionals.


As it is, unlike his brothers at this age, Khev still looks forward to and enjoys going to school each and every day. If there’s a chance that could change by putting him in the lead program, that’s a chance I am not willing to take.

Parks Are Not For Potties

Many times I am reminded of how lucky a person I am.  Although I became a mother for the first time at the age of twenty one, I had a very loving, supportive and helpful family.  They helped me to understand a lot of child behaviors that had me stumped.  For instance, when my oldest son was fifteen months old, he loved to empty tissue boxes one tissue at a time.  This aggravated me because I would tell him no over and over again, yet the minute I went to the bathroom or even just turned my back on him in a room, my little tissue fiend was at it again.  One day my mom caught me yelling at him for this and asked me why I was so upset.  Continue reading

Anyone’s Alfredo

alfredoI’ve probably said this before, but I like to pride myself on recipes that are homemade and healthy, yet easy and inexpensive to make.  I’m a last minute type of person, I keep certain foods and spices and I hate having to search for obscure ingredients to make a good dinner on the quick.  So when I have a craving for something, I troll for recipes, go through a bunch of them and then change them to fit my criteria. Continue reading

What Can I Say…

picstitchI’ve been trying to think of ways to build my readership so I’ve been skimming my favorite news magazines and online outlets to see what kind of child-related articles get picked up and/or talked about the most.  I definitely got a taste for what’s popular, but I’m not sure this new found information is going to help me very much.

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Shut Up!

LI’m not one for reality shows, gossip and the like.  However I do have a thing for advice columns.  I love reading about the banal (and not so) problems of fellow citizens and find good advice fascinating and useful.  In fact I think I try to give it out too, in my own goofy, story telling way.

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In Favor Of Toys

<p>Girls pose with their dolls. Teacher Rob Robinson took 27 young students of color to the American Girl store in Manhattan.</p>Back in December, I wrote an article about how I thought that children should believe in Santa Clause that got strong responses.  I felt that my readers should know how much early childhood imagination, creativity, and emotional development is helped along by having magical characters to believe in but some of them just couldn’t see the point or value in it.  Today I present to you an article about a wonderful teacher at PS 58 in Brooklyn, a man named Rob Robinson.  Continue reading

Mango-Kiwi Smoothie

mango smoothieThis yummy smoothie came about because my 16 year old is supposed to be writing a paper for school.  I forced him to sit at the kitchen table sans electronics and distractions.  Yet he ingeniously found a way: look at what we have in the fruit bowl (mangoes and kiwis) and not only suggest a recipe, but volunteer to run out to the store to get the other ingredients needed!  Gee thanks, T-boy!  The smoothies are great – but you still aren’t getting up until your paper is done! Continue reading

We’re Talking About Vaccinations, Right?

Vac5_127.jpgOne of my favorite online magazines, Slate,  had a funny article (read it here http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/04/16/social_networks_and_vaccination_facebook_friends_can_influence_politics.html ) about a soon to be published study in the Journal of Pediatrics regarding the prevalence of a new technique that many parents use when making vaccination decisions for their infants.  They poll people on their social networks. Huh? Continue reading