Reader Question: Are Private Elementary Schools For Working Moms Too?


Corporate office picture

Question: Great blog, I love reading it!  We are currently applying for private school kindergarten, and one thing I haven’t been able to muster up the courage to ask about, is what life is like for two-parent working families at the schools.  Do you have any sense?


We began our preschool experience here in LA (after transplanting from the Midwest) pretty miserably when we landed in a school that was largely stay-at-home moms. It was a great school, but it wasn’t the right environment for my son, who was one of only a handful of children who stayed at school beyond 12PM.  We are now in a preschool that is nearly 75 percent two-parent working families, where my son stays with her classmates for most of the day, and feels right at home.


In many of the presentations at private elementary schools, it seems like some of the private schools still work off the assumption that there will be a mother who stays home and is freely available.  I got worried when they started talking about how they transition kids into school, expecting the child to go to school for just an hour for their first day, maybe an hour and a half the second, gradually going up to staying for lunch by the end of the first week.  I just don’t know how I could handle doing this and keep my job!


But is this my own misperception?  What has your experience been? Thanks for any insight!


Christina’s Answer: I think its a great question! At all the schools, there are moms who work full-time, but its a question of whether they are in the majority or not. I’ve found that starting K is a transition point where you may want to take a few days off (vacation, sick, etc.) because most of the schools have early days for the first week. And, its a big transition for your child, so you want to be there. After the initial transition period, the regular schedule begins and there are no more early pick-ups, no more hanging out at school to see how your kid is doing, etc. The school expects parents to leave after the transition is over.


In general, I’ve found that most working parents have nannies/babysitters who pick up their kids since they can’t get off work in time and there are a lot of school holidays. However, if that’s not an option, most schools have enrichment programs that go until about 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. for parents who work and for kids who want to stay to take cooking, sports, crafts, etc. My kids used to love those programs.


I have been a full-time working mom, a stay-home mom and now a work-at-home mom so I’ve experienced it all! For working moms, volunteering can be fit into your schedule since it is after all, volunteering.  The social scene at some schools is dominated by stay-home moms and its hard to make friends and do play dates when you work. But, its always possible to arrange get-togethers on the weekend or school holidays (these are always great for play dates and if you’re not home, a babysitter can help out). All this gets easier as the kids get older and can go home with a friend and that sort of thing.


My advice would be to try to choose a school that seems more like your preschool. If you’re not sure, talk to current parents at the school and your preschool director to get an idea of the culture of that particular elementary school (that’s really what we’re talking about). You can have a good experience as a working parent at a school where most moms don’t work outside the home, assuming the moms are friendly and flexible with scheduling, understanding that you work full-time outside of home.


Thanks for reading!

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Style Profile: Anne Herwick, Oakwood School Mom and ‘Chic Mama LA’ writer

Anne Steadman Herwick
Anne Stedman Herwick


As soon as I read Anne Stedman Herwick’s fabulous blog, Chic Mama LAI knew I had to meet her! Luckily, I had the chance to meet Anne at a social media lunch I hosted recently for a group of L.A. mom bloggers and writers. Not only is she absolutely gorgeous, she’s friendly and super-stylish.  On her beautifully photographed lifestyle blog, Anne keeps her readers informed about the hippest happenings around L.A., from new restaurants and bars, the best birthday party venues for kids to charitable giving organizations that makes a difference.


Anne’s “must have” looks for spring are right on trend, a bit edgy, always accompanied by a pop of color and perfect for an Oakwood School mom. Her current obsession? Anything by Isabel Marant! Thanks, Anne, for sharing the Maya Brenner state necklaces. I want one!


Anne Herman of Chic Mama LA
Anne Herwick of Chic Mama LA. Top: Zara, Leggings: Gap, Sneakers: Etoile Isabel Marant


Anne's Spring Must Haves:
Anne’s Spring Must Haves!


Anne's Spring Must Haves Part 2
Anne’s Spring Must Haves Part 2


Anne Stedman Herwick is a mom to two fun and vivacious boys (three if you count her husband!). She’s a mom at Oakwood Elementary School.  When she’s not busy running around with them, she’s creating her blog Chic Mama L.A.


What Do They Mean By Waitlist? by Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout

L.A. School Scout
What Do They Mean By A Waitlist

Are They Just Shining Me On? 

Hi everyone,This is turning into an annual ritual – the writing of the newsletter about the waitlist. But first, congratulations to all of you out there who received those coveted acceptances!


As most of you might already know, all of the private elementary schools send out their acceptance letters on an agreed upon date; this year it was March 15th. That means that Saturday was definitely D day for those of you applying to private schools.


To those of you with acceptance letters, congratulations! But whether you’re dancing in the streets with letters of acceptance from all of the schools you applied to, or howling in pain from rejection letter after rejection letter, chances are that you also received at least one letter saying that they were happy to inform you that you were being placed on a waitlist. Yup, just like being cryogenically frozen in time, you were going to have to wait for some future time when you were suddenly going to be accepted into the school of your dreams. Ah, the future!


But there’s no guarantee of that rosy future, and by the way they didn’t tell you when you might hope to emerge from said waitlist. So what exactly does that waitlist mean?


First, it is not a euphemism for “thanks, but no thanks.” Schools take applicants from their waitlists all the time. Let’s say an applicant applies to half a dozen schools and gets into all of them. This might be what is known as a good problem, but the reality is, they can only go to one school. So their spot at all of those other schools suddenly becomes available to someone on – drumroll, please – the waitlist. Here, being waitlisted is a good thing.


In general, if you’re on a Kindergarten waitlist at a school you’re truly interested in, let the school know that you are interested in staying on the waitlist. You have no idea how many people don’t bother to let anyone know. And while some schools will in fact keep that list, many will need that gentle reminder that this school is your first pick school, and you’re holding out for it. If it is your first pick school, let them know that if offered a space, you will take it! I can’t stress this enough.


Secondly, for those of you glass half fullers out there, the waitlist is a step up – it is not a euphemism for you are not getting into any school. Trust me, if they are not interested in you they will not offer you a space, period, not even a waitlist space. There are people who get that letter – sorry, but we are not going to be able to offer you a spot. Period. That is definitely a “thanks, but no thanks.” So now the waitlist is looking up, isn’t it?


And thirdly, being on the waitlist means that, agonizing as it is, it’s not over. You might be offered a space in two weeks or a month from now; you might be offered a space at the end of August. Spaces open up all the time.


But if the waitlist is making you feel crazy, this might just be the right time to find a viable alternative, public, private or parochial. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to call. You can reach me or 310 926 0050; or submit an inquiry form on my website I will do my best to get back to you within 24 hours. Please note that March is fully booked, and I am now scheduling appointment for April.


Stay open, stay flexible, stay tuned for more on what those of you applying for September 2014 need to do right now. And for the time being, congratulations to all of you who were waitlisted. Take heart – the end is not near…yet.


Have a wonderful spring break! I will be out of town from March 23-March 29, and there will not be a newsletter next week.

Perspective, Right?


My soccer loving son after a game.
My soccer loving son after a game.

Admissions week. Because this can be a truly exhausting and stressful time for anybody who hasn’t finalized their private school admissions plan, I thought I’d offer some links that offer something very important: perspective.


It’s too easy to get caught up in our own worlds, forgetting that people close by and far away have needs that are so profound it shocks us. If there was ever a week to celebrate private school good news, distract yourself while you wait or take a longer-term view of short term bad news, this is it. Remind yourself that today is today and tomorrow is a new day. I often do this, especially when I’m under pressure.


My friend Jennifer Brandt of Perfectly Disheveled traveled to Haiti with Ladies Home Journal and Croc Cares to provide shoes to Haitian kids. Her photos are breathtaking.


Jenny Feldon of Karma, Cont. spent a morning here in L.A. volunteering at Baby2Baby.


I absolutely LOVE this short video piece on a new site, Kids In The House about loving our kids unconditionally.


Or, just read something that makes you laugh! From The Sassy Curmudgeon in The Huffington Post