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 6 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. * Updated May 9, 2019 to add Laurence School. 

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
  • Laurence School, Valley Glen
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.



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