Guest Blogger Lindsay: SH*T L.A. Private School Mothers Say

The Mansion
  • The official cutoff is September 1, but parents are holding May kids back now.
  • Where is your winter home?
  • We don’t have to vaccinate because everyone else does.
  • We spend summers back east.
  • I might have to fire the nanny—she was late dropping off the kids again.
  • You have to come to our holiday party—we hired FX company to make real snow!
  • My driver got stuck in traffic.
  • Why doesn’t that child have a “shadow?”
  • We never fly commercial.
  • I was going to get a B, but everyone told me I’d be happier with a C.
  • I had to wait all day for the interior decorator for my Malibu house.
  • Do you realize how much I paid for this parking spot at the silent auction?
  • She’s writing our son’s recommendation letter, so for Christmas we gave her a week at our house in Aspen.
The Aspen House
  • This is a feeder school for Harvard-Westlake.
  • It was all nannies at that birthday party. Except for the hosts, I was the only mother there.
  • Actually, 7000 sq. feet isn’t really that big.
  • Dr. X is an artist. I’m on the 6-month wait list to get my eyes done.
  • Public school kids have a better chance at getting into the UCs.
  • Do you know who her father is?

Part Two Coming Soon!
Lindsay J. Gallagher, a Gen X mother of two, is a transplant from New York City, who has lived in LA for 15 years.  Married to a cinematographer, she is a “film widow,” doing her best to create a “normal” family life for her son and daughter even though dad is often away.  When she is not carting her children to baseball, swimming, ballet, acting or voice, or volunteering at their schools, she works on her novel, plays tennis, snowboards or watches Netflix on TV (new addiction!)  She travels a lot with her kids, often on her own, and blogs for family travel website  Recently she switched from coffee to green tea and from wine to tequila. Lindsay has one child who attends an LAUSD elementary school and one who attends a private elementary school. Visit Lindsay’s personal blog, iknowbutidontknow.

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Guest Blogger Jenny: Pre-Acceptance Private School Participation: Does It Work?

So here it is, another application season, and this pesky question keeps popping up: Does attending school events before my child even goes to the school give my application an advantage? The answer: it depends.


I feel pretty strongly that the pre-acceptance participation factor only works with certain schools. For instance, when we applied to Mirman for our daughter, her father (my ex) decided that attending the Mirman Holiday Program would be a good idea. Mind you, we hadn’t yet really applied, Anna hadn’t had an interview or a tour, but he figured it couldn’t hurt. So, he drove up to the church across the street from the school and watched a bunch of strange kids sing holiday songs. It probably beat going to work that morning. But did his participation help her chances of getting into the school? No. Anna was wait-listed, and we didn’t hear that there was an opening until late June.


But that’s Mirman, and Mirman isn’t every school. I’ve heard different things about other schools. One family I know had their child in one private school, but really had their hearts set on another. So, they attended events at the school she didn’t go to, showed up for meetings, and, for all I know, paid for a new science wing (just kidding). Well, guess what: it worked! She got in for 3rd grade. Of course, we’ll never know definitively if all this participation and dedication garnered an advantage, but there is a correlation.


So, if you know, for certain, that there’s a particular private elementary school that’s just perfect for your child, by all means show an interest before application season. You could attend an event like a fair or a fundraiser. You could, of course, give money or silent auction donations, although some schools prohibit this type of giving during the year you’re applying to avoid any perception of conflicts of interest.  If you have a valued skill set, like public relations or publicity, offer to help the school plan or publicize an event. Most schools like to see helpful and interested parents, and such efforts will be duly noted. In schools with a very clannish scene, showing that you “fit in” is a definite advantage, because some schools are more about the families than the individual children (although that’s definitely NOT the case with Mirman).


All this being said, you could still get the dreaded flat rejection letter anyway, leading to all kinds of curses. There are no guarantees.


Or, you could pay for that Science Wing.


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 last year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News and on Mamapedia, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, Hybrid Mom, The Culture Mom and A Child Grows In Brooklyn. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.

Campell Hall Mom Supports A Very Worthy Cause

Many of you may know Lee Rose Emery as the popular blogger at LA City Mom, one of my favorite sites. Lee is also a Campbell Hall School mom who is helping to raise funds to find a cure for pediatric cancer. Lee’s personal message to honor Pablo, a remarkable little boy who died of cancer, and the foundation created in his memory, is inspiring and worthy of our support. Please see below for Lee’s post from LA City Mom:

Here is a family event in February that should not be missed. The Pablove Foundation’s Family Valentine’s Celebration. This day of family friendly crafting, music, food, and fun is so dear to my heart. Pablo Castalez was a pre-school classmate of my children. Two years ago, he lost his year long battle with Wilm’s Tumor cancer. He was six years old. His parents, JoAnn and Jeff have started The Pablove Foundation in his honor, with the mission to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research and provide programs to enhance the lives of those children living with cancer.  Having a charity event that kids can be a part of (and one craft the kids can participate in that day is in making Valentines for kids in the hospital) is an opportunity for all of us to appreciate our good fortune and health,  and to take a moment to give and consider the struggle that many families endure.  My kids and I will be there, and I hope you can make it too. Details are below:


WHERE: Quixote Studios in Los Angeles.

True Pablove, will feature Valentine-themed arts & crafts, a silent auction, catering by some of LA’s best eateries, kids’ activities, The Pablove Shutterbugs Giving Tree, special musical guests and more!

True Pablove’s fun and festive arts & crafts for kids of all ages include creating biodegradable planter boxes, cookie decorating, tote bag design, felt flower crafts and Valentine’s decorations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Silent auction items generously donated by friends of The Pablove Foundation include a classic Palm Springs getaway to an Alexander mid-century modern retreat, dinner at Mozza/Osteria, a Maya Brenner Pablove necklace, Rob Jones “White Stripes” lithograph, Surfing with Crash, a Channel Islands surfboard and much more!

All proceeds will benefit The Pablove Foundation’s mission to fund pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs.

Tickets can be purchased at Pablove for $60. For more information on the Pablove Foundation.

Event sponsors Include: Quixote Studios, Intelligentsia, The Scootabaker, Izze, Pazzo Gelato, Swing House and Filter Magazine.

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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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