What Do You Do When You Realize You Are Not Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

This is a really funny article by Sarah Maizes, Los Angeles mom and writer who blogs at www.mommyliteonline.com

She writes that she used to “preside over her kids’ homework like the President Of Mensa…” (click on link below to read the article)

If you’re like Sarah (and me), you’ve stumbled over your child’s homework. I recently asked my husband Barry’s aunt, Naomi, whether she was able to help her son with his high school homework. Her son is a math genius. He maxed out on his high school math classes and took courses at University of Pennsylvania. She looked at me like I was crazy to even ask the question. Her response? “It would have been pointless! The professors answered his questions!” And, Naomi is really smart.

In my house, it’s getting tricky. I’m married to a college MATH MAJOR. If there’s a mistake in the homework, I admit, it’s usually my error. The few times when I’ve overruled my 4th grade daughter, I’m almost always wrong. Barry gives me THE LOOK. I’m really looking forward 5th grade homework!! And, if our kids do turn out like Barry’s cousin, at least there will be somebody here to help them. Whew!

What Do You Do When You Realize You Are Not Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

A Simple Thought…

Everything will be okay
in the end.
 
if it’s not okay,
it’s not the end.
 
(unknown)
From the blog, The English Muse
 
I came across the poem above and loved it for its simplicity. It is so relevant to the private elementary school application process. The admissions process is infused with so many emotions and this poem resonates with so much wisdom. I’m completely enamored with it and I have it posted in my little home office. I hope you like it too!
 
Happy Thanksgiving!
 

Reader Question: Separate Assessments For Twins At Visiting/Testing Day?

Reader question: Are twins are tested/evaluated separately or together as part of the admissions process?

 

Anne Simon, Beyond The Brochure Co-Author and former head of Wildwood Elementary School, answers the question:

 

Answer: If the school has a one-on-one or paper and pencil assessment, of course the twins will be evaluated separately. If they are observed in a playgroup situation, an interesting question arises.

 

There will probably be more than one group time for these playgroups. There are usually too many children to have one playgroup for observation of applicants. Several groups are usually formed at different times for these kinds of assessments. This would offer an opportunity for twins to be in separate groups.

 

Teachers and administrators often circulate and observe children at play, taking notes on how they see the potential students: how do they separate from parents; what activities are they drawn to; how do they interact with materials and equipment available; how do they get along with other children; do they prefer individual or group activities; are they joiners or leaders? There will probably also be stations with more ‘academic’ projects where teachers will work individually with applicants to assess their prior knowledge.

 

If the twins are headed into separate classrooms, it makes sense to have them in separate observation groups. If there is only on grade per class and they will be together if admitted, then I expect the school will want to see them together. It is generally the school’s call, but parents certainly should have a voice in the matter.

 

What is important is for each child to have a chance to show who he/she is in the best light, but also one that is realistic and replicates the setting the child will find if entering the school. Remember that the goal of the admissions process is to put together a balanced group of students who will work and play together over time.

 

Guest Blogger Jenny: Helicopter Parenting: The Blades On The Chopper Go Round & Round

Helicopter Parents: They Hover

There’s been a lot written lately about extreme parenting. I’m not talking about the home schooling, pioneer garb wearing, technology shunning extreme, I’m talking about extreme (disguised as concerned) that’s sinking into the general culture, indeed even into the private school culture.

 

Take, for instance, the idea of attachment parenting. That’s when you have the baby and instantly strap it to you in a sling, feed it on demand, and share every moment with it. In other words, you’re a prisoner of your infant. While I can see how this constant supervision might work in, say, a tribe or multi-generational household (in which adults trade off the necessary responsibility of a baby), it seems enormously impractical in modern life. As Erica Jong wrote recently in an article called “Mother Madness” in the Wall Street Journal: “…How you do this (attachment parenting) and earn the money to keep her is rarely discussed.” Not to mention how you keep your sanity.

 

You know what the natural offshoot of attachment parenting is? The helicopter parent. The constant control, extreme attentiveness, and obsessive care bordering on fatal neurosis are all reminiscent of attachment parenting. Children are treated like delicate hothouse orchids that must be tended round the clock lest they keel over (or perhaps escape). These are parents who plan every minute and activity for their children and never let them do anything alone.

 

Sometimes I get the feeling that some of the kids in Anna’s class have never been separated from their parents. This spring, there’s an overnight field trip to Sacramento planned, in order to learn about state government (these kids have spent plenty of time on the 405; now it’s time to learn about the other gridlock). When it was first mentioned at a parents’ night, parents were informed that, if they wanted to go on the Sacramento trip, they must first volunteer for two regular field trips. I was mystified. Was this a way to deter parents from volunteering? Because I knew one thing for sure: I had NO interest in going to Sacramento for an overnight with a bunch of kids.

 

I was wrong, of course. It wasn’t a deterrent; just a way to ensure that they had parents for the regular field trips, too. Because, you see, it turns out I’m in the minority. What I view as an opportunity for an adult evening, (while my child is in the best possible hands) is viewed by helicopter parents as an unacceptable lack of control. There are plenty of parents clamoring for the opportunity to chaperone an out of town overnight. Plenty.

 

The really funny thing about these private school helicopter parents is that private school, for the most part, makes helicoptering redundant. Private schools try to anticipate students’ needs. The institutions are nurturing and attentive. Expectations and requirements are clearly indicated, and performance is rewarded. In the private school sphere, the helicopter parent is a mere annoyance: a pesky mosquito instead of a diligently patrolling machine.

 

At my daughter’s school, this dynamic is particularly obvious. Mirman is extremely child focused. While the school might want my money for annual giving or my time for volunteer work, it really doesn’t want to hear from me otherwise. Much of the time, when dealing with the teaching staff, I feel gently humored. Sure, my kid might be bright, but who’s to say I’m not a blithering idiot. And don’t think I resent the school’s attitude; I actually appreciate and applaud it. Because let’s face it: I’m not qualified to educate my child, and I probably shouldn’t be allowed to weigh in on it that often. That’s what the school gets paid to do.

 

As I watch these parents circle their children, examine their every expression, scrutinize their friendships and monitor their meals, I think about my daughter’s choice (and thus the choice of many of her friends) of reading material. Books like Harry Potter, The Time Trilogy, The Narnia Chronicles, The Hunger Games, Rick Riordan novels, His Dark Materials, and many others all have parents who are dead, absent, distracted, or simply not of any real importance to the plot. The child protagonists in these books survive by their wits and ingenuity, not by depending on adults. This is what kids crave. And this is what their helicopter parents, who want to give them everything, will never give them.

 

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.


Moms Tell What They LOVE About Their Children’s Private Elementary Schools

“Our family is happy with so many things at Wildwood School. The sense of community and understanding for all types of differences creates such a wonderful environment in which to learn and grow. The teachers and other staff are truly interested in understanding each child as an individual and strive to help them learn in a way that is meaningful to them. Questions are encouraged, differences in opinion are welcomed as a way to stimulate deeper discussion of a topic, and alternative answers are readily accepted. While it is sometimes difficult for everyone to see the benefit of a more progressive type of education, the collaborative approach of project based learning will help prepare our children to be successful in whatever path they choose. Teaching children how to think critically, work as a team, and present their ideas is what will set them apart as they begin college and later enter the workforce”.
-Amy, Wildwood Elementary School


“I love that the teachers have such great attitudes and greet the kids every morning with enthusiasm! I also love that the school uses humor. It has just the right mix of being focused, thoughtful and academic while fostering a sense of enthusiasm, joy and love. My kids amaze me not only with what they are learning, but the complexity of their understanding of the material.”
-Gretchen, The Willows Community School


What I love most about Campbell Hall is it’s down-to-earth culture. There’s an extremely strong sense of community, and I think that comes from the school’s philosophy of focusing on the whole child, not just the academic aspect. I like the notion that it’s just as important to be a kind person as it is to be a smart person”.
-Lauren, Campbell Hall


“What I love about PS#1 is the fact that all the teachers know my kids, even though my kids have not had all of the teachers. I like the fact that there is a community among the students. When my son was in kindergarten he knew and played with 5 and 6th graders who adored him and took care of him. Now that he is in third grade he has friends who are in 1rst grade and friends who are in 6th grade.

I love that my naturally super organized daughter has the structure she needs to learn the way she learns best and the support she needs to stand up in front of the whole school, make announcements and be comfortable doing it.

I love the fact that the kids who come from PS#1 know how to ask for and get guidance from teachers, other adults and peers to help them learn….to me this the most valuable life skill ever!

I love PS#1 because it is truly a community of parents who are different, unique, open and caring.”
-Kim Hamer, PS#1

“What I like most about Mirman is that it has very high, but not unreasonable, expectations in terms of academics and behavior. My child simply thrives in this environment.”
-Jenny Heitz, Mirman


“I like St. James because it’s diverse, the academics are good, and the kids are a little more innocent there as compared to the kids at some other schools.”
-Alison, St. James

“They don’t miss a thing…this school really knows each child”
- Jenny, John Thomas Dye

“I love the fact that Crossroads elementary school has the mantra, “Is it True, is it Kind, is it Necessary?” These words are evident in the children’s attitudes towards others. The children are warm and welcoming, and I have yet to hear from my daughter (who is new to the fourth grade this year) of any type of social strife between the girls.”
- Carole, Crossroads

Is there something you love about your child’s private elementary school? Leave a comment and share with other moms!

Reader Question: Skip Kindergarten Process, Apply For 1st Grade?

One of our readers asked whether she should apply for 1st grade and skip the kindergarten admissions craziness and competition?

 
At first, that may sound like a great idea. Keep your child in preschool another year. Or, enroll him/her in your local public school for kindergarten. Then, apply to private elementary schools for first grade. Escaping the kindergarten application process sounds tempting! It can even sound like a fairly simple plan. If you’d rather be one of the 4,500 people stranded last week on the Carnival Cruise ship off the Mexican Rivera without power or fresh water than brave the kindergarten admissions process, that’s understandable. But, the problem is that there are just not enough (if any) openings for first grade at most schools to ensure your child will get in.
 
The challenge with the first grade application scenario is that most kids graduate from kindergarten and go on to first grade. At most schools, there are very few–if any–first grade spots available. Its not a point of entry at most schools. You’re basically waiting for someone to leave and hoping a spot opens up…a risky proposition. Granted, there can be a spot here or there, but it’s not a sure thing.
 
And, you also need to think about putting your child in three schools in three years: preschool, local public school and then first grade at private elementary school. That’s a lot of schools in a short time for a young child.
 
Obviously, if your child isn’t accepted for kindergarten and you choose to re-apply for first grade, that’s a different story. In that case, it makes sense to re-apply if it didn’t work out the first time.
 

 

 

Reader Question: Visiting/Testing Day For Twins-Separate or Together?

Reader question: Are twins are tested/evaluated separately or together as part of the admissions process?


Anne Simon, Beyond The Brochure co-author and former head of Wildwood Elementary School answers the question:


If the school has a one-on-one or paper and pencil assessment, of course the twins will be evaluated separately. If they are observed in a playgroup situation, an interesting question arises. There will probably be more than one group time for these playgroups. If the twins are headed into separate classrooms, it makes sense to have them in separate observation groups. If there is only on grade per class and they will be together if admitted, then I expect the school will want to see them together. It is generally the school’s call, but parents certainly should have a voice in the matter.


What is important is for each child to have a chance to show who he/she is in the best light, but also one that is realistic and replicates the setting the child will find if entering the school.


The Big 5 Private Elementary Feeder Schools To Harvard- Westlake

There seems to be an endless fascination on the part of us private elementary school types about feeder schools to Harvard-Westlake. Understandable, right? Unclear. The chatter continues…including at a boisterous and fun dinner party at my house last night (eight adults and eight kids). A few of the guests were very “in-the-know” about all things Harvard-Westlake.

 
Here are the top private elementary schools that serve as “feeders” to Harvard-Westlake:
 
  • Carlthorp, Santa Monica
  • Curtis School, Bel Air
  • The Center For Early Education, West Hollywood*
  • John Thomas Dye, Bel Air
  • Mirman School For The Gifted, Mulholland
 
However, Harvard-Westlake accepts students from more than 60 schools, including UCLA Lab School, The Willows, Turning Point, Sinai Akiba, Paul Revere, Lincoln Middle School, and more.
 
 
*The former President of Harvard-Westlake is married to the Admissions Director at The Center For Early Education.
 

 

 

Guest Blogger Jenny: Carpool, Part Deux

Well, it happened. Despite my best intentions, bending over backwards, doing flips and dips and driving in the right lane, I have been booted from my private school carpool.

 

I’m not alone. Another family got the “goodbye” call as well. The reason? One child cannot handle being with so many other children. Plus, probably a plethora of private school politics I cannot possibly fathom. Sometimes, you’re just not one another’s kind of people. Anyway, the “don’t mess with the carpool” statement I made in my first carpool post has been undone: someone messed with the carpool.

 

So, we will all suck it up. Form a new carpool. A better carpool, damn it. And, in honor of that, I’ve adapted a popular twelve step program’s Twelve Traditions as the new carpool’s parameters. This is not meant as blasphemy. I just figure, if these Traditions could hold a sprawling, self-regulated organization in such good stead, they’d more than do for my measly little carpool.

 

 

The Twelve Traditions of Carpool (by Jenny)

 

Our common welfare shall come first; personal transportation depends upon carpool unity.

For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—the driver.

The only requirement for carpool membership is the desire to stop driving… daily.

The carpool should be autonomous.

The carpool has but one primary purpose—to drive the children to school.

The carpool ought never endorse, finance, or lend the carpool identity to any other carpool.

Every carpool ought to be fully self-driving and insured.

The carpool should remain forever nonprofessional, but we might employ special drivers in emergencies.

The carpool, as such, ought be organized only through cell phone and email.

The carpool has no opinion on outside issues. Unless it involves sirens.

The carpool’s public relations strategy is based on attraction and neighborhood convenience within a ten block radius, rather than promotion.

Safe driving and a clean car is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions; ever reminding us to place principles before our children’s personalities.

 

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.

Happyland Preschool’s Annual Kindergarten Night-Nov. 16th

Hi Everyone,

Happyland Preschool will be holding their Annual Kindergarten Night on Tuesday November 16th, at 6:00 p.m. This event is open to the public.

This is an opportunity for parents to learn about public and private schools who will have representatives at the event to talk about their schools, along with a Q&A.

Schools that will be represented:

Public Schools: El Marino, Linwood Howe, Farrragut, El Rincon, Ocean Charter, Goethe Int’l. Charter, Overland, LAUSD Charter Schools (general overview), Westwood Charter.

Private Schools: Westside Neighborhood, Marina Del Rey, The Willows Community School, Culver City, Wildwood School.

Happyland Preschool is located at 4045 Lafayette Place, Culver City. Please RSVP to Yasmyn at yasmyn@happylandpreschool.org