Hilltown Families


The Not Quite Empty Nest My son is leaving home. Not today or tomorrow or even a month from now, but in 9 months he will begin a new life. The metaphor for this new evolution and birth are not lost to me. This time he is going to college.

“Three years ago I wrote a post about (daycare / preschool drop-off) separation and how to make it an adventure. This year, I am the mom, not the not the teacher, and it is far from an adventure; closer to a nightmare.”

Hilltown Families’ contributing writer, mom, and day care owner and operator, Candice Chouinard, shares her wisdom and a few pieces of tangible advice for parents dealing with the first day blues!

In the 1800’s, the traditional academic year was quite different in New England than modern day education. An element of seasonality was incorporated into how the school term was determined. 19th century poet John Greenleaf Whittier, part of a group of poets also known as the schoolroom poets, wrote a poem that describes well a typical country schoolhouse in New England. One of Whittier’s poems, “In School-days,” describes the memory of an old man as he recalls a fellow student and the life lesson she taught him…

Here in Western Massachusetts there are many preserved historic school houses people can visit to learn more about schooling and education before the 20th century. Here are six historic schoolhouses to explore in Western Massachusetts…

An interest in one-room schoolhouses can be a lens into learning about New England history, education, and local industry. Here are three free community-based events coming up this month that supports these intersections of learning!

In this video by Kylee Reschke, five Fireside Poets from the 19th century are introduced. Discover why they are called the Fireside Poets (also known as the Schoolroom Poets) and why they are relevant today.

Well-known education resource Khan Academy, a free web site offering video-based learning to students, sparked a small revolution in the utilization of video in the classroom. Here, modern learning technology offers a lesson in the history of education… Sal Khan style:

Featured here are contemporary conversations about modern day education, including the voices of “inspiring and forward-looking leaders and thinkers on the topic of learning, including Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, Bill Gates, Rita F. Pierson, Sir Ken Robinson and Geoffrey Canada, among others.” Hear what many of these folks have to share in this this TED Talk special on education…

Joanie Leeds of Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights guest DJs our Back To School Episode. Joanie hand picked all of the school themed songs including a few from her new CD, Bandwagon as well as from artists such as: Pop Ups, Dizzy Gillespie, Justin Roberts, Bari Koral, Recess Monkey, Lunch Money, Astrograss, Miss Nina, They Might Be Giants, The Verve Pipe, Chuck Berry, Trout Fishing in America and Rocknoceros.

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, August 29, 2016. This month Sienna and Lauren talked about agricultural fairs, fall festivals, one room schoolhouses and apples featured in the debut of “Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.”

Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Funded in part by Mass Humanities, Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a NEW bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

By emphasizing place-based exploration through humanities inquiry, these cultural itineraries connect residents of all ages to their place, helping to shape a more comprehensive understanding of our cultural identity, heritage, and history. This contributes to establishing meaningful relationships between young people and elders, and more active citizens.

With these FREE downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history and a strengthened sense of place. Click through to download a free 38-page PDF!

Listen to our podcast anytime! Our Back to School Episode includes music by Milkshake, Chuck Berry, Tom Paxton, Barenaked Ladies, Imagination Movers, and many other great musicians sing about all topics of school! Even Bill Harley is featured with a great story, “The Teacher’s Lounge.” Great classic episode!

This month, “The Good Life” visits the Tri-County Fair and finds “sweet relief” from the madness of summer’s last day.

Children can experience a myraid feelings, often dealing with several emotions at once. Traditionally, there have been a paucity of outlets available for children to articulate their feelings and learn the language of emotion. In “Time to Talk” this month, Kathy uses her experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist to give tips on how we can set up a system of dialog for children to articulate and communicate their emotions, and therefore understand them more. Read on for suggestions of reading materials and apps to help you along the way.

The Hilltown Family Variety Show presents Guest DJ Debbie Lan, from the award winning band Grenadilla. Debbie enjoys singing and making music with children in parent/child classes through 4th grade and plays her student’s favorite tunes in this classroom episode!

This weeked on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, Keith and Ezra of Trout Fishing in America hosted the Hilltown Family Variety Show, spinning a diverse mix of musical styles! Listen to the podcast any time!

This week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, Joanie Leeds guest DJs our Back To School Episode. Joanie hand picked all of the school themed songs including a few from her new CD, Bandwagon as well as from artists such as: Pop Ups, Dizzy Gillespie, Justin Roberts, Bari Koral, Recess Monkey, Lunch Money, Astrograss, Miss Nina, They Might Be Giants, The Verve Pipe, Chuck Berry, Trout Fishing in America and Rocknoceros! Listen to the podcast any time for an hour of commercial-free family programming!

Back-To-School Labor Day weekend marks the return of school for many families! We’ve combed through our archives of questions we’ve asked our readers over the years that relate to this time of year and wanted to share a few gems that generated helpful community recommendations and suggestions that families with children going back-to-school (or just starting school!) can use. Be sure to check out our weekly post, Learn Local. Play Local. for… Read More

Americans spend billions and billions of dollars on kids clothes each fall in anticipation for the school year ($7.7 billion in August alone in 2011)! We asked our readers when shopping for back-to-school clothes for the upcoming school year, how can Western MA families make wise purchases? Here are 11 suggestions our readers offered… give a look-see and share your own ideas too!

Listen to Podcast: Back to School Episode Saturday from 9-10am Original Broadcast: August 20th, 2008 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts ♦ Subscribe to Podcast Radio ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter PLAYLIST Imagination Movers – “First Day of School” [Juice Box Heroes] Ernie & Neal – “Pre-School Punk” [Rock the House] Milkshake – “School” [Bottle of Sunshine] Adam and the Couch Potatoes – “Go to… Read More

Fall Into the Season with a BANG The 2011-12 football season started off with a BANG at our house this year — literally — after my son, Max, attended a Labor Day football jamboree and saw stars (or a least a bright flash of light as he describes it) after being tackled by a 7-foot, 200-pound mammoth of a player. OK, according to Max the kid was not much bigger than his… Read More

QUESTION AND ANSWERS PB&J. Cheese stick. Yogurt. – (Snore!) – Does your inner chef have a fresh, creative idea to share for our back-to-school, lunch toting kids? Leslie Lynn suggests, “Hummus and carrots, yum! Seaweed strips! Homemade granola bars!” Hannah Monroe Litchfield suggests, “My kids love tortillas with just about anything rolled inside. Cream cheese and ham, hummus and lettuce, turkey and cheese, or Yes, even PB&J.” Jessica Grant suggests, “Vegetarian sushi… Read More

End of August in the Berkshires The natives are getting restless. The war cries signaling that two brothers have had enough “together time” this summer resonates throughout the house. A drum beats slowly and methodically in my head as I reach for the bottle of ibuprofen to stave off yet another kid-induced migraine — peace drums here, not a chance — while I ready myself to intervene in the latest battle between… Read More

Make sure your children’s back to school supplies are safe & PVC free! The Center For Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) has created a Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies allowing parents and children healthier and safer options when it comes to choosing school supplies. CHEJ’s product list of PVC-free items include: backpacks binders notebooks lunch boxes, food wrappers & dishware raincoats shoes art supplies clothes electronics and more Click here to… Read More

Listen Now Amber’s 2010 Back-to-School Picks Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am September 18th & 19h, 2010 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA Podcasts ♦ Radio ♦ Archives ♦ Subscribe ♦ Myspace ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter Playlist by Amber Bodnar of Boston Children’s Music Getting the kids back to school can be such a hectic time: trying to get everyone back on schedule, making sure they’ve… Read More

Listen Now Back-to-School Episode Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am September 11th & 12th, 2010 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA Featured Video: Our friends over at Boston Children’s Music turned us on to this new video, “Bookmobile Submarine” by John Hadfield. Podcasts ♦ Radio ♦ Archives ♦ Subscribe ♦ Myspace ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter PLAYLIST Chuck Berry – “School Day” [His Best, Volume 1] Imagination… Read More

When your child heads back to school, it’s a great time to start talking with his teacher. What can you tell a teacher that will help him do his job better? You might be surprised…

Dads’ 10 Tips for the New School Year By Joe Kelly Our children and stepchildren are starting the new school year. Dads & Stepdads are a valuable resource for kids in school. Here are a few simple tips to help you help them get the most out of this year (pronouns alternate because we dads have both girls & boys): 1. Listen to what’s happening. If she’s stressed or upset about cliques,… Read More

Back-to-School Means Back to Healthy Eating for this Family It’s just about that time again. Time for alarm clocks and protests to sleep “just one more minute.” Time for grumbles over homework and carpools to sport’s practices. Time for frazzled parents and days where the schedule dictates your life. (Cue scream.) Yes folks, the vacation’s over. It’s back-to-school time! Take a deep breathe and you can almost smell the nervousness, anticipation and… Read More

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