Reader Question: Switching Private Elementary Schools- How Do I Deal With Negative Teacher Report Card?

Reader Question: I’m trying to change schools (from private to private). What about the child who gets an “improvement required” on classroom behavior? My daughter will be going into the 3rd grade, and although she is currently in a private school, the teacher has extremely poor classroom management skills, and any child who has any energy, or gets bored with the “routine” gets this comment. How do I mitigate this comment during the interviews as I apply to other private schools for 2012-13?

Anne Simon’s Answer: If the comments are on the written report card and the schools you are applying to read the complete report, you will have to hit the issue head on in the interview and answer any questions honestly. It will be important to try to find another teacher who understands your child’s learning style and ask him/her to write a recommendation letter to accompany the transcript. It might be an art teacher, a P.E. or music teacher. I believe that admissions directors can read a lot between the lines and might be perceptive enough to see the teacher’s anxiety showing through. Don’t assume that they will read every teacher comment. If they ask, tell them your honest experience and try to get someone to validate your perception, perhaps in a note. It is a tough one, but moving a child at this point is usually accompanied by some kind of dissatisfaction (if it is not about a family move) and admissions directors are familiar with these situations.

Good luck!

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Reader Question: What If My Child Has A Complete Meltdown During Visiting Day At L.A. Private Elementary Schools?

Here’s a question that was posted in the “comments” section from one of our readers:

Question: Hello: It’s been great reading your blog in preparation for three parent interviews and three school “playdates” in the coming week. As I try not to obsess, I do have a real concern: although my daughter is joyfully happy at her preschool and no longer has ANY problems separating from us, she is STILL a very cautious (or sometimes called SHY) in new situations and the mere mention of visiting a school has her yelling “no!” 

I am sure these schools are used to some kids acclimating quicker than others, but what if your child simply refuses to separate? Or has a complete meltdown in the process? My preschool will attest to what a great kid she is to have at their school, and how it’s not an issue any more, but what if they don’t see that at the visit? Do schools really judge your child on this ONE day?

Sincerely, Anonymous and Nerve-wracked and hoping to get through the week without a stroke, (and thankful for any words of wisdom).

Answer: Hi Anon, thanks for reading the blog! In my experience taking my daughter on visiting days or “playdates,” I found that all of the schools were very skilled in helping kidsseparate from their parents. My co-author, Porcha Dodson, did admissions testing at CurtisSchool and often tells parents that the people working with the kids on these “playdates” areteachers and administrators who are very used to dealing patiently and kindly with youngkids in a new environment. If your daughter is hesitant, they will most likely gently encourage her and make it fun for her. If she truly refuses to separate from you, the schoolmay offer you another chance to come back on a different day. Overall, I think the schools do a wonderful job making the kids feel as comfortable as possible. Hopefully, your daughter will be excited about the opportunity to see a K class and potential new classmates and fun things to do! I told my daughter (who was very shy) that she’d be going to see real K classes and teachers and do a bunch of K projects. She loved it and had no trouble on these “playdates.”

Anne Simon, Beyond The Brochure co-author, advises that you talk to your daughter and reassure her that she will be fine during the “playdate.” And, you may need to stay close if the school tries to separate you from your daughter for the observation i.e. right outside the door, etc. Anne adds, “I would tell her to use her judgement about talking with the Admissions Director about separation. If she thinks she can avoid a total meltdown by staying close, she may want to say something to the Admissions Director.” Hope that helps! 

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I’m guest blogging today at Mamapedia!

When Moms Verbally Attack Each Other We All Lose” – Mamapedia Voices

Competition among moms starts the minute we have our first child. Did you have a natural delivery or C-section? How much weight did you gain? Sometimes these questions are asked before the most important question of all: How are you and the baby doing?

The competition heats up when our babies reaches the infant stage. The topics available for moms to attack each other’s parenting choices are endless. Breast fed or formula fed? Cloth or plastic diapers? Homemade or store bought baby food? Organic fabrics or synthetics?

I’ll never forget sitting in the park when my daughter was about a month old. Feeding her a bottle, talking to a friend, a mom we didn’t know approached us. She interrupted our conversation to inform me that I was holding the bottle wrong and my baby might be taking in too much air. I calmly asked if she was a doctor. Of course she wasn’t. She was just a know-it-all-mom looking to put down a new mom. I ignored her and kept talking, confident my daughter would survive.

It’s a mystery to me why moms compete with each other endlessly, openly criticizing other moms—friends and strangers alike—over parenting decisions big and small. It’s mean and hurtful. It’s all about the “right” choices or the “best” way to parent. Of course, the “right” way is always the method used by the mom dispensing the advice. I’ve never heard someone say, “I learned the hard way, my obsession with designer baby clothes drained our family budget and didn’t really make a difference.” It just doesn’t happen that way.

Click here to view the full article on Mamapedia

Inspired Learning: The Waverly School Garden

“We grew a “pizza sauce” garden of tomatoes, onions and oregano, made some sauce, and threw a party at the farm where we grilled up a lot of pizza. Everyone liked that, so the next year we grew a sauce garden again, and made the cheese for our pizza in the classroom. A parent joked, “How come you didn’t grow the crust?” –Barbara Ayers, Waverly School parent who oversees the school’s garden.

To read more about how the Waverly School garden came to life, read Barbara Ayer’s blog piece. She oversees the school’s garden. For more about the Waverly School in Pasadena, click HERE.

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Have We Applied To Enough L.A. Private Elementary Schools?

If you’re wondering (like I was) whether you’ve applied to enough schools, there are schools with January 2012 application deadlines. In Beyond The Brochure, we discuss this issue in detail. Obviously, there’s no perfect number, but if the schools you’ve selected are super-competitive, or you’re applying for financial aid, consider adding one or two more to your list. Here are a few schools with January 2012 admissions deadlines:

Campbell Hall: The deadline for all applications is Friday, January 27th, 2012.

St. James Episcopal School. Submit your application to the Admissions Office with the $100 non-refundable application fee as soon as possible, but no later than January 13, 2012. Late applications received will be considered after April if space is available. 

New Roads: January 20, 2012. Deadline for completed applications

Pilgrim School: Jan. 31s, 2012. 

PS #1. Still accepting applications for Fall 2012. 

Children’s Community School. Deadline is Jan. 27, 2012.  

Laurence School. Deadline is Jan. 15, 2012. 

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