Pasadena Area Independent School Annual Kindergarten/Elementary Options Night 2014

Chandler School
Chandler School

The Pasadena Area Independent School consortium will host their annual
Kindergarten/Elementary Options Night on Thursday, October 16 at 6:00
-7:30 pm at Chandler School. The Options night offers Pasadena and San
Gabriel Valley residents the opportunity to learn about area schools all
in one place.


The consortium of Pasadena Area Independent Schools includes; Barnhart,
Chandler, Clairbourn, Crestview, Foothill Country Day, Gooden, High Point
Academy, Mayfield Junior School, New Horizon, Polytechnic, St. Mark’s,
Sequoyah, Walden, Waverly, and Westridge. Parents will also be able to
visit with other area private and public schools. Over 30 area schools
will be participating.


The PAIS consortium was created to make the application process easier for
parents. While each school is an Independent school with itís own mission
and school leadership, the schools work in concert to provide common
forms, screenings and decision dates. The intent is to make the process
easier for parents applying their children to area private schools.


At the Kindergarten/Elementary Options night you will have the opportunity
to talk directly with admissions directors and representatives from the
PAIS schools and other area schools. The consortium puts together a
Kindergarten Application Matrix that is available at the options night.
The Matrix incorporates the participating schools profile and important


The public is welcome. No reservations are needed. Please note this event
is for Adults Only. For questions, please contact any of the above schools
and ask for the Admissions Office.

For more information, click on Chandler School, Pasadena

To see Beyond The Brochure’s profile of Chandler School, click HERE


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Little Acorns Grow Preschool Is Growing: Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Grades!

Little Acorn 1

Recently, I went to see Little Acorns Grow, a charming Preschool-Kindergarten school in Reseda. Founded in 2011 by Melanie Martin, the director, the school is expanding by adding kindergarten, and grades 1st-3rd.  The kindergarten class is in its first year (there are 4 spots currently open!) and 1st grade will begin in 2015, followed by 2nd grade in 2015 and 3rd grade the year after.


Little Acorn 9

Little Acorn 11

Melanie greeted me at the front of the school to begin my tour. She is friendly and energetic, talking excitedly about her school. It was late morning and the kids were completely absorbed in various classroom and outdoor play activities. The school is small (12 kids per grade), with a very large play space with a garden in the back.  Classrooms are bright, filled with color and newly updated.


Little Acorn 6

The focus at Little Acorns Grow is individualized instruction with a healthy dose of play based learning in the integrated curriculum. Each class has a teacher and an aide. Taking inspiration from Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf, the school is a blend of educational philosophies. Kids begin learning to read in Transitional Kindergarten and reading typically happens in Kindergarten. The “why” is important, the logic of why things happen is key to the curriculum. Discipline doesn’t include time-outs, but instead focuses on positive tools to help kids get along.


Melanie, a mom of two kids, has years of experience as the head of elementary school at Delphi Academy. She’s used her professional experience to create a high quality program at Little Acorns Grow. It is her pride and passion. From the organic snacks to the enrichment classes that include yoga, art, music, drama, cooking and languages, the kids are exposed to creative, hands-on experiences.

Little Acorn 4


Parents are welcome to volunteer. This year, a parent will be teaching robotics. Another helps the teachers prepare classroom activities. There are school field trips, art shows, puppet shows and more, all with help from parent volunteers.


Little Acorn 7Little Acorns Grow is small and nurturing, with a well-developed curriculum, an abundance of learning and play activities and a plan to expand to add grades 1-3. It is the kind of school where my own kids would have flourished. The tuition is $850 per month for a full day and $700 for half-day.


Little Acorn 5


Little Acorns Grow was one of three schools featured in this super-cool new video by Soul Pancake as part of the National Campaign To Learn.


“We could talk your ear off about the importance of early learning, but figured you would rather have some cute kids with GoPro cameras show you why they love preschool. They’re telling stories, doing art projects, practicing counting, and learning that “when somebody’s talking to someone else, you be patient.Soul Pancake. 

To see the Soul Pancake video, click HERE.

For more information, visit or call 818-779-1099.


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What Makes A School Traditional? Developmental? Progressive?


Photo: Seier and Seier, Flickr Creative Commons License
Photo: Seier and Seier, Flickr Creative Commons License

This post is an excerpt from my remarks at a recent preschool speaking event. One of the first –and most important–things to do is figure out the type of school that’s right for your child.  Sometimes a school is a mix of several philosophies (you’ll see a few schools listed in several categories below) or it’s not clear to you what type of school it is from a website or a tour. Most L.A. private elementary schools are a hybrid/mix of educational philosophies. This is not an exact science, but more about the way each school adheres to a particular philosophy or combines several philosophies.  For example, you might see a progressive school with a developmental approach to teaching.  Or, you may see a traditional school that incorporates a developmental approach in the classroom. But, if a school doesn’t seem to have a clear philosophy that can be understood and explained, ask questions! And, there are clues you can look for to help figure out what kind of school it is. Your goal should be for your child to attend a school that offers a learning environment where he/she can thrive and one that you truly believe in. — Christina


While every school is different, here are some of the characteristics that can help you identify the type of school:


Traditional: ( Examples: John Thomas Dye, Viewpoint, Carltorp, Brentwood, Pilgrim, St. James, St. Brendan, Curtis, Steven S. Wise, Campbell Hall, Village, Mirman, Chandler (Pasadena), St. Matthews), Catholic Schools tend to be traditional 

  • Similar to the public schools many of us attended as kids
  • Academic achievement is the core philosophy
  • Structured schedule
  • Teacher centered-not kid centered
  • Kids expected to meet academic milestones by certain time (reading by mid-year kindergarten)
  • More homework, more multiple choice tests, quizzes
  • Fewer group projects
  • Teacher directed work, not kid directed
  • Classroom setup usually has teacher at front, desks facing front of room
  • Grades start early
  • Lots of memorization
  • Competitive sports teams 
  • A focus on good character and values
  • Uniforms


Developmental: (Brentwood, Turning Point, Echo Horizon, Oakwood, Lawrence, Campbell Hall, Temple Israel, St. Mark’s (Altadena), Willows, Center For Early Education, Westside Neighborhood School)

  • Kids develop and learn at their own pace, eventually all arriving at the same academic milestones (reading for example). That is celebrated, not discouraged.
  • Kids are not competing with each other to see who can read first or memorize multiplication tables first.
  • Kids can help each other learn, not just teacher directed learning
  • Big concepts and ideas are taught, not a ton of detail/memorization
  • Integrated curriculum…what’s happening in science relates to language arts, etc.
  • May or may not have uniforms


Progressive: (PS#1, Wildwood, Pasadena Waldorf, Westland, Children’s Community School, Oakwood Elementary, Seven Arrows, Willows, Sequoyah (Pasadena), Waverly (Pasadena), Center For Early Education, Lycée International de Los Angeles, Walden, Pasadena)

  • Child-centered learning, kid-initiated projects
  • Concepts like sharing, creating, caring
  • Engaging kids with the world around them
  • Rejection of memorizing big amounts of information
  • A whole child approach-social, emotional and academic have equal importance
  • Lots of group projects, discussion and debate
  • Kids work at tables grouped for 4 or 6 kids
  • Very little homework, few worksheets (if any)
  • No grades until MS or even HS (or not)
  • Lots of expository writing
  • Play-based in preschool and kindergarten
  • An emphasis on field trips for real-world learning
  • A focus on the arts
  • A de-emphasis on standardized testing
  • Kids working on creative projects with their hands using wood, paper, found objects
  • If there are uniforms, they might be a t-shirt


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