A Big Summer Math Packet From The Willows School


We have a few days before school starts on Sept. 7th. At the beginning of the summer, the Willows School posted a math packet for incoming 4th graders, my daughter’s grade (and a packet for my 2nd grade son too) on the school website. I logged onto the school’s website and voila, there it was. All 200 pages of it! Due back in September to the teachers. What a fun summer this was going to be.


But, my husband, a college math major, worked with our kids every morning to complete this packet. It wasn’t always a pleasant way to start the morning.

Sometimes, I walked in to hear, “I don’t want to do math!” Other days, it’s “look what I just did!” The kids worked at the dining room table on their math worksheets. Progress happened. Everyday brought a new mood. But, they both like math. He also found a great online math program called IXL, which allows the kids to work on math from their computers and then sends the parent a report of what they’ve done.

In Beyond The Brochure, we discuss the different types of private elementary schools in LA. In general, developmental schools believe that kids learn at different levels of readiness and the curriculum is multifaceted to allow for learning at various levels. Children are encouraged to participate in the process of learning. Traditional schools will most likely have a curriculum that requires every child to master each subject at a certain pace.

What makes The Willows, a developmental school, different than a traditional school, is not so much what is taught, but how it is taught. My kids get math worksheets, similar to traditional schools. They take spelling tests each friday. They take tests during the week. Kids are put into groups for math based on ability. Kids are pulled out for more advanced work based on ability. Same for reading. My daughter took the ERB standardized test last year (3rd grade).

But, what I think is truly unique about The Willows is the integrated curriculum. If the kids are learning about the ocean in class, their work in computer lab will be connected to the ocean. Their work in art class will be also related to the ocean. Field trips will be to places where they learn about the ocean. And so on. It’s all connected in the most amazing, creative way. This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of work on the part of the teachers and administrators to facilitate this type of curriculium. But, my kids come home enthuiastic about almost every subject, including math. My daughter’s lesson on fractions started with the kids baking and using the measurements to understand fractions. They ended the lesson eating the cookies they baked! If I had to pick the most important part of their education at The Willows, the integrated curriculum would be at the top of the list. The Willows School.

Are you thinking about whether a developmental or traditional school would be best for your child? What are your questions? We like getting reader questions that we can answer and post. Let us know your thoughts. Leave a comment!

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of a daughter (15) and a son (12) who attend Viewpoint School in Calabasas. I live in Coldwater Canyon with my family and a rescue pit bull, Cocoa. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “A Big Summer Math Packet From The Willows School

  1. I think that integrated approach is GENIUS. In High School I couldn't have cared less about math, but if someone had really showed me how it was going to be useful in the real world (after school I ended up being a fashion designer for many years and needed to calculate costs, yardages of fabrics bought, mark ups and on and on)….maybe I would have paid better attention! I believe kids learn so much better experientially so kudos to The Willows!-Gina

  2. I have heard that Willows and Turning Point (with in blocks of each other) both do an incredible job of integrating the curriculum using a developmental approach! I am looking forward to visiting the schools to see it first hand. This website is so helpful.

  3. I would like to know about preschools. Is there any definitive guide that you can recommend for that. Does this selection have implications on future kindergarten admissions?

  4. Hi Natalie, "Coping With Preschool Panic" by Michelle Nitka is a great preschool book for LA, http://www.preschoolguide.com. Also, there's a list of about 45 preschools at The Twin Coach, on a blog post called, "Hidden Gems". http://www.thetwincoach.blogspot.com

    There are preschools that are "feeders" to certain private elementary schools. And, it can be helpful to send your child to a preschool where the director is familiar with the private school admissions process if that is the direction you want to go for your child. Thanks for the question!

  5. I agree that an integrated system is the best way for children to learn and that is why our daughter goes to what is considered a "very traditional" school. Each month covers a new subject (plant life, dinosaurs,ocean life etc.) and that topic is presented in writing, math, science, art, music, library and computers. I think it's no longer a matter of progressive vs. traditional anymore, private elementary schools are now teaching "the best method" and that happens to be an integrated platform across the board.

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