Wordless Weekend: Name That L.A. Private Elementary School!

A new Arts and Education building is coming soon to this well-established Valley School (photo: Toluca Times)

A mildly religious Hancock Park K-6 school

This Preschool-8th has a Montessori-inspired approach in the early years

Kids have been known to remain on this school's wait list for 5 years before being accepted

This super-popular school has a gorgeous campus and student uniforms

This is a Catholic school in Brentwood

Get Ready For Fall: Mommy-Pickup At L.A. Private Schools (a.k.a. The Catwalk)

Depending on the L.A. private elementary school your kid will attend (or currently attends), afternoon pick-up or an evening school event might feel a bit like Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 2012.


At The Willows School, we have several celebrity moms. These trend-setters come to school wearing super-high heels (4 inches minimum), professional hair and make-up and designer clothing (think Prada, Victoria Beckham (hint hint), Marc Jacobs). With all eyes on their luxe glamour, what’s a regular mom to do?


Even some of the Willows moms who aren’t famous have incredible, enviable style. One of my friends just got a big Chanel handbag (splurge!). Also seen around campus: Stella McCartney everything and a few Hermes Birken bags (mega-splurge…or maybe not if you’re mega-rich). In a previous post, we broke down the defining style, school by school.


For me, its all about keeping a low profile these days. Unlike in years past, I won’t be taking on any major volunteer jobs that require me to be at school a lot. Of course, I love fashion, high-end designers and a beautiful handbag (I’m coveting a tan Bottega Veneta tote with an insane pricetag). But, I’ve been a mom at our school long enough to walk in wearing everything from tennis wear (or worse) to a cute outfit.


Here’s what’s going to help remain incognito during mommy-pick up:

Accessories for keeping a low profile. Hat: Gap, Sunglasses: Kate Spade


My friend Jessica Gottlieb, who writes the quirky, intelligent blog, Jessicagottlieb.com (which happens to be one of the most popular blogs in the country) is an L.A. private school mom too. She recently went on a spending spree at Barneys and Nordstrom and unpacked her bags in this video clip. Oh, and she got a pair of Fendi flats marked way down. And a pair of great Celine sunglasses. 


L.A. mom blogger Michelle Chiklis, who writes the elegant and gorgeous lifestyle blog, Carpool, Couture and Cocktails is a mom of two daughters who attend top L.A. private schools. Michelle definitely keeps her eye on trends. A self-described “volleyball mom” she dresses for the occasion. Take a look at her finds, from a J.Crew hat to cool vintage tees and her favorite McQueen dress (so stunning!).


Celebrity mom Shiva Rose is a parent at the Waldorf School. She loves vintage finds and local designers, as shown here on her blog, The Local Rose.


Is style a big part of an L.A private school mom’s life? That, my friends, all depends on who you are. And, don’t think everything is pricey. I got these Maniera rain boots FREE for participating in aTwitter chat!

Rainboots in the summer! Worn by my daughter. Perfect for stomping around the back yard


A Really Good Surprise!

On the shelf at Barnes and Noble

We were thrilled to discover Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles is now available at Bookstar-Barnes and Noble in Studio City! We had no idea! Its very unusual for a national bookstore chain to carry a self-published book (via Amazon.com). These are the best kind of surprises.


Of course, we are very grateful to Chevalier’s on Larchmont and Children’s Book World for their continuing support.


Thank you to everyone who has purchased our book and to our blog readers!


Christina, Anne and Porcha

“Beverly Hills Nannies” (and Mannies): A New Show but Mannies Are Familiar Sight at L.A. Private Schools

Mannies aren’t just on reality tv shows. They work for L.A. private school families in real-life. (Life & Style)

He works for a Real Housewife of BH. How much you want to be her kids go to private school? (In Touch)

I read with great fascination about a new show called “Beverly Hills Nannies.” I haven’t seen the show (the first episode aired July 11 on ABC Family), but I will try to catch at least one episode of this potentially addictive reality TV show. (Whether it can rival my favorite, Real Housewives of New York, is unlikely). ”Mansions, private jets and sports cars are the norm for the stars of this new guilty-pleasure reality series…” (Life and Style, July 16, 2012).


The reason I’m intrigued by the show is that two of the five nannies are actually “mannies” or male nannies. But, these aren’t just TV reality show creations. You can see these mannies in real-life at many of L.A.’s elite private schools. They are a status symbol. There’s something about a manny pulling up in a Mercedes that shrieks “rich family.” They also function as “house managers” and “estate managers” and various other titles required when a family has a large staff to manage their home. I don’t know for sure, but I can virtually guarantee you that the kids on “Beverly Hills Nannies” attend private schools.


When I asked my husband, Barry, about the manny trend, he wanted to know, “Why the sudden appearance of “mannies”? When I was growing up, in a pre-Sandusky world, the appearance of a manny would have brought a visit from the SWAT team.”


There are a few families at The Willows who have mannies. And, I’ve seen several at Marlborough Summer School when I pick up my daughter. Porcha Dodson, Beyond The Brochure co-author, pointed out that in her experience at Curtis School, sometimes a manny is hired to handle a particularly difficult child. Similarly, a friend told me about a manny who worked for a very high-net worth family at The Center For Early Education whose kid was extremely challenging and would be escorted into school unwillingly every morning by the manny.


So, Its not just on reality-tv where this luxe lifestyle of the manny flourishes. Its at L.A.’s private schools, too.


Here’s a previous piece, “I Want My Manny: At Private Schools, Mannies a Status Symbol” by guest blogger Jenny Heitz. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.



Your Kids Do It, You Do It: The Latest L.A. Private Elementary School Trend


Looking for a new hobby? Do what your kids are doing!

“Whatever activity my kids are doing, I do it with them,” a private school mom told me recently. Right now, it’s piano and cooking, but we’ve done a lot of different things.” I can’t imagine my parents taking horseback riding lessons because that’s what my sister and I did. Fast-forward to 2012 where taking up your child’s hobby is all the rage among L.A.’s private elementary school parents.


When I talk to other private school moms and dads, a lot of them have interesting and sometimes unusual hobbies. But, it wasn’t until the other night at dinner where the conversation turned to our children’s resume building hobbies, that it occurred to me that many of these parents are taking up the same extracurricular activities as their kids. It’s the latest parenting trend at some of L.A.’s most popular private schools.


A friend of mine takes the exact same lessons as her kid, including music and poetry–with the same instructors. I’ve seen parents start surfing, snowboarding, run marathons with their kids, compete in horse shows, take violin lessons,  rock climb, start playing lacrosse, guitar and even join a rock band, because their kids are doing it. A parent at one school is practicing in his kid’s band and joined the band in the kids’ talent show at the school.


It’s a way to share your child’s interests, a means of staying connected in a fragmented world, where parents and kids are always rushing from school to sports to music lessons. It can reinforce a kid’s choice of activities and create a way to learn together. Maybe its even a way to be hip in our old age. Or, is it really just a thinly disguised way to helicopter parent our kids? I get the feeling some of these parents would attend school with their kids if they could.


I especially admire those moms and dads who step outside their comfort zones of Chanel flats and skinny jeans to try something new. Ballet for the first time as an adult? Probably easier said than done.


My family plays tennis. We all take lessons and sometimes we play together. It’s a lot of fun. I love how we can share an athletic activity together.


If all this sounds a bit too precious, maybe it is. Its definitely a luxury that a lot of private school parents have…the time and money to chase our kids’ our dreams. I, however, draw the line at tennis. My son plays soccer, football and basketball. My daughter plays guitar. You’ll never find me doing any of those things! I’ll leave them for my kids to enjoy—without me.


Parent-Teacher Conferences: When To Speak and When To Shut Up

Listen and learn

During the past school year, my husband and I attended our son’s 3rd grade parent/teacher conference and our daughter’s 5th grade conference at The Willows School. The second of three conferences, this was a time for teachers to show parents the kids’ work, comment on their progress and answer any questions. At our school, only the first and third conferences are accompanied by a detailed written report.


I can’t tell you how tempting it can be to go into these meetings with your own agenda. Of course, that list of things you want to discuss may have little or nothing to do with the actual classroom work. That’s when, I’ve learned, it’s best to shut up and listen.


For me, mean girl drama is always at the forefront. This year, we’ve haven’t had nearly the array of mean girl complaints that I heard from my daughter in 3rd grade. Nothing rivals our rocky kindergarten year. Still, there are always small slights, hurt feelings, and minor incidents with many of the girls in my daughter’s grade. Heading into parent conferences, these are always the issues I’d prefer to discuss. But, I don’t. I listen to my kids’ outstanding teachers talk about the incredible ways they teach what could be pretty dull stuff like the American Revolution. Or the Salem Witch Trials. Listening to the teachers talk about 5th grade’s unit on these subjects, I was captivated.


My husband is a math aficionado. It’s safe to assume he’ll ask a question or two about the math program. A major overhaul in the school’s math program at the start of the year had him peppering the teachers with a list of questions about how it would all work. Fast forward several months later and those concerns have been alleviated. My kids really enjoy the new math program.  What did I learn from this? If your child is at a great school, trust that the administrators and teachers know what they’re doing, even if it’s a bumpy transition at first.


That’s not to say I haven’t raised issues of concern when it’s necessary. Of course, I’ve asked questions about what the teachers observe with the girls’ social scene. With my son, the boy drama tends to play out on the yard, with boys arguing over sports. Occasionally, the grade will be banned from playing a sport until things settle down.


I’ve learned over the years my kids have been in elementary school to listen first, talk later (if at all) during parent/teacher conferences. I get more information that way because my kids’ teachers really know my kids. They get them. And, they like them. I can’t ask for anything more. My husband and I leave our kids’ conferences incredibly proud of them.


What DO I say? I tell the teachers what a fabulous job they’re doing educating my kids and how grateful I am that we have them as teachers.


Enough said!


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What are “Beyond The Brochure” Bloggers Doing for July 4th?

Hi Friends!

What’s not to like about 4th of July? No matter where I am, this is always my favorite holiday! It’s summer, we celebrate our Independence and I’m reminded of outdoors, sun, beach, BBQ and of course, fun drinks!

Here’s what we’re doing:


Anne Simon, Beyond The Brochure co-author is in Amsterdam and France for a much-deserved vacation. Doesn’t her photo below make you want to travel?

Provence, France

Porcha Dodson is having fun in Cabo for a few days.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Barry and I will be having a few friends over to BBQ and swim

Taste Test!

Have a great holiday! –Christina