We’re excited to be featured on the front page of Elizabeth Street! My co-author, Porcha Dodson, and I are talking about what to expect for kindergarten admissions testing. Porcha previously administered testing day at Curtis School.
Click on Elizabeth Street to read.
He really does play soccer, but not golf.
We all know kids who, with help from their well-meaning parents, bolster their resumes before they apply to college. Teens are starting non-profits, developing apps, founding companies, volunteering in remote parts of the world and more. It’s the big push to get into college. I get it.
At lunch with a friend recently, the talk turned to middle school admissions for her private elementary school daughter. My friend doesn’t think her daughter is involved in enough activities, even though she plays on two club sports teams. My friend told her daughter she needed to sign up for several of their Westside school’s clubs. When her daughter resisted, she told her kid, “It will look good on your middle school applications.”
When we applied to middle schools last year, we didn’t feel the need to sign up for a bunch of activities my daughter wasn’t really interested in and had no intention of pursuing, even for a short time. Her activities reflect her true interests and don’t include competitive sports. Still, I saw parents putting their kids on sports teams (cross country running is popular), adding violin lessons at the last minute and all kinds of other stuff to ensure their kids seem well rounded, team players who are likely to succeed. Of course, one kid we know got to middle school and immediately dropped the big activity (tennis) he had used throughout his application to help him get in. He lost interest, he told his embarrassed parents and the coach.
I encourage my kids to try new things, but the quick sign up for the sole purpose of getting into secondary schools feels very inauthentic.
It also seems to work.
Barry and I have been through numerous parent interviews between kindergarten and middle school applications. Some went well. Others did not. I write candidly about one awful parent interview in our book.
Here’s my latest piece (with Anne Simon) for the fabulous site, Elizabeth Street. Click HERE to read.
“You would say store-bought granola is for the birds, but you would never feed high-fructose corn syrup to birds.”
We posted Buzzfeed’s very funny list, 26 Lessons You Only Learn In Progressive School on Beyond The Brochure’s Facebook Page, but in case you missed it, writer Ariane Lange nails it! On Buzzfeed.
Many L.A. private schools are a hybrid of educational philosophies, a blend of school types (traditional, developmental and progressive) that define each institution. However, there are schools that are purely traditional or progressive and have chosen not to incorporate a mix of educational philosophies. Any of these school types can offer an academically challenging, intellectually rigorous learning environment. Selecting a school depends on your preferences as a parent and finding the best fit for your kid.
- Progressive elementary schools utilize play-based projects to encourage learning. In a progressive school, student initiated projects (or projects developed with student input) are more common. In traditional schools, teachers develop lesson plans and projects for students to work on.
- Traditional elementary and middle schools emphasize formal activities like Cotillion. Manners and proper greetings are considered essential.
- Progressive schools place less importance on standardized testing. The curriculum of progressive schools is not specifically designed to prepare kids for standard tests. However, some progressive schools may give practice tests to help kids prepare for these exams.
- Traditional schools encourage friendly one-on-one competition among kids through writing contests, math contests, valedictorian and tryouts for sports teams. Contest results and honor rolls are posted for students and parents to see in traditional schools.
- Progressive schools typically reward achievements of the elementary school class or grade rather than individual acknowledgements.
See Differences Between Traditional and Progressive Schools Part 1 HERE
We were very honored to learn that, Mommy Poppins, a national resource for fun, cool things to do with your kids, named Beyond The Brochure one of their favorite Los Angeles mom blogs! Here’s what they say:
Beyond the Brochure
“Christina Simon’s blog – and book – about private schools in LA have become the industry standard. Her guest post in our Schools Guide offers a taste of her expertise; the Beyond the Brochure blog takes readers far more in-depth on private school issues”.–Mommy Poppins
Thanks, Mommy Poppins. We’re thrilled! See the link here.
I went to my first clothing swap event, where one person’s trash is another’s treasure. It was crazy fun as we swapped clothes, sipped drinks and tried on everything. Literally.
At a super-fun clothing swap event with some of my favorite L.A. mom bloggers (Jill Simonian, Sarah James, Jennifer Brandt (host) and Diane Mizota. Event was sponsored by Glad. #Trashcrashers.
The BEST party swag! Stuff moms can use from Glad. #TrashCrashers
Recently a friend told me about a forest preschool (and K) in Boston. Curious, I found an article about this interesting trend toward outdoor schooling…kids go to school in weather as cold as 15 degrees. (Boston Globe)
Have a great weekend!–Christina
Echo Horizon School, Culver City. Photo: Launch Education Group
My friend and colleague, Matt Steiner, wrote this excellent profile piece about Echo Horizon School for Launch Education Group’s blog:
“Earl Hunter is a 3rd grade teacher at Echo Horizon School in Los Angeles. He is a tall, broad African-American man with hip glasses, a sweet smile, and the modest self-assurance of a seasoned orator. I was introduced to Mr. Hunter during one of Echo Horizon School’s fall Open Houses. After I had finished touring the school with a flock of parents, I listened to Mr. Hunter deliver a speech about his favorite aspects of teaching at Echo Horizon School. One aspect in particular, a concept he called the responsive classroom, caught my attention.”
To continue reading, click on Launch Education Group
Robotics is a very popular school and extracurricular activity. Photo: First Lego League
What will L.A.’s private elementary school students be doing in 2014? Here are 5 super-popular activities we think will continue to engage students this year:
- Lego Robotics/Robotics- Immensely popular, Lego Robotics and more advanced Robotics, allow students to create and program robots, participate in team competitions and hone their engineering and programming skills. With robot names like Westie, kids compete statewide and even nationally to see which team’s robot has what it takes.
- Lacrosse- This traditionally East Coast sport is making major inroads on the West Coast, both at schools and in club teams.
Community Service: Project Knapsack, a non-profit, founded by Beyond The Brochure co-author, Porcha Dodson, works with numerous L.A. private schools to offer volunteer opportunities for students. Photo: The Namayarse Girls School in Kenya with Project Knapsack delivered school supplies.
- Community Service- Giving back to the community, both near and far, continues to be a very important part of private school curriculum and extracurricular and school club activities. Schools are expanding their opportunities for students to make a difference in big and small ways from helping the homeless to providing school supplies to children in Africa.
- School Gardens- Adding beauty and learning opportunities, school gardens are cropping up in a growing number of L.A. private elementary schools.
- Computer Programs like Scratch Animation, GarageBand for Mac, MicroWorlds Jr. and MicroWorlds EX. In the classroom, kids can program an animated turtle to move or create a triangle with mathematical dimensions using MicroWorlds Jr. Scratch Animation (created by MIT) teaches basic programming skills as kids create animated cartoons. Garage Band for Mac lets kids simulate a music studio by combining tracks to make their own musical creations.
Barry and our daughter on a Philadelphia street.
We’ve spent the past week in Philadelphia visiting Barry’s family and friends. We had the BEST time cooking, vintage shopping, eating at wonderful restaurants, seeing historical sites and relaxing.
My sports fan at St. Josephs v. Boston U. basketball game
Vintage clothes shopping at Revivals. Me with Barry’s Aunt N. and my girl. Revivals has amazing finds… I think we spent almost 2 hours in there.
Happy New Year! New blog post coming Monday.–Christina