The Summer Before School Starts: Ideas For Connecting With Other New Families

Now that you’ve selected the private elementary school for your child (or they selected you), you’re probably shifting into the “what’s next” mode. Summer is a great time to meet new families before school begins. Most private schools some offer some or all of the following events to help families get acquainted before school starts:


Host Family “meet and greet”. Many schools ask a current family to host a new family for a lunch or other get together. You may be invited to join your “host family” for an event. This family has been asked by the school to host several new families who have kids who will be in the same class and are most likely the same gender. Note: we’ve heard all kinds of “host family” stories. Most of the families are really nice and welcoming. Our host family at The Willows organized a brunch at her house with homemade cinnamon rolls. A few host families never even bother to call the new family. Sometimes, they will call, but are “too busy” to get together. Others can be arrogant and aloof and unwelcoming. If anything like this happens to you, let the school know. The reason this happens is because new parents are too intimidated to tell the school so it continues year after year.


Picnics. Many schools have summer picnics for the entire school, including new families.


Social events. You may be invited to a variety of social events to welcome you to the school. Parties and other events are the school’s way of welcoming it’s new families.

Visit the classroom. Your new school may invite you and your child to visit the classroom and meet the teachers before school starts.


Playdates. Schools will send out a roster before the start of school. It’s a great idea to have a few playdates with other families before school starts. It will help your child recognize a friendly face the first day of school and it’s nice for you to meet other parents, especially if you don’t already know any incoming families. However, don’t feel insulted if some parents don’t respond. They may be out of town or have older siblings already at the school so they may not feel like a playdate is needed for their child.


Host your own event. Sometimes new families will host a pool party or other event for incoming families. If you do this, just make sure to invite everyone in your child’s class!


Plan your own event. Schedule a moms only get together like a hike or a lunch date. Dads can do the same thing. Again, just remember to invite all the moms or dads in your child’s class! And don’t be upset if some of the parents don’t respond.


We discuss what to expect your during your child’s first year at private elementary school in Beyond The Brochure if you want to know more about this topic.

Reader Comment: Got the wait-list call for first choice school

Yesterday, a reader left the comment below under the post “Admissions Notes”. I’ve posted it because it illustrates the point we’ve made before: kids DO get accepted off wait-lists. Sometimes the wait-list call will even come over the summer. Here’s how it happens:


We paid our deposit and were very happy with the school where we were lucky enough to be accepted. Originally, it hadn’t been our first choice, but we were waitlisted at our first choice and quickly found happiness with our new school “home”.


Then the unexpected happened – we got the phone call offering us a spot off the waitlist at what had been our first choice. I have to say, even though this is supposedly a “good” problem to have, we were a mess. I couldn’t figure out what my gut was saying, and frankly, I couldn’t figure out if I even had one any more! My husband and I went round and round… I know I shouldn’t say it, but it was miserable.


In the end, we did decide to switch horses midstream, as it were, but it was an agonizing decision. We opted for the change and went with the school that had been our initial first choice ONLY because we thought it was going to be the best choice for our child. In the end that was our focus, and the thrust of our decision making.


I never realized how psychologically hard it was going to be to revisit the whole process again after what we affectionately call, “D-Day”.


Your wisdom has been very helpful and I have appreciated all your insight on this entire subject. Thank you!

Reader Question: Private Elementary School Cutoff Dates

A reader emailed us asking what to do about cutoff dates since her son’s birthday is Dec. 28. What should she do? She says many parents are torn about whether to hold their child back or move them ahead.

If your child has a late summer or fall birthday, you may be unsure what to do about private elementary school cutoff dates. If a school requires that your child turn 5 by Sept. 1 and your child turns 5 on August. 25th for example, your child would meet the cutoff requirements, but might be the youngest child in the class. If you decided to wait another year and have your child remain at preschool, your child would likely be one of the oldest in the class. In general, private elementary schools want kids to be close to 6 when they start kindergarten. My daughter turned 6 in late July and began kindergarten in Sept. She is one of the oldest in her class and that suits her. However, she’s not the oldest and there are a group of students around her age.

Keep in mind that schools are not just considering your child’s kindergarten year, but their entire time at the school at every grade level. Schools are evaluating how well the child will do in first grade, second grade, etc. Private elementary schools definitely prefer kids in the older age range, hence the cutoff dates. Each school has its own requirements for cutoff dates. For example, Brentwood School requires the child turn 5 by July 1 to enter kindergarten.

There is some debate about “redshirting” or holding a child back if they have a late summer/fall birthday. My son entered DK (Pre-K) at The Willows School at age 4. He was the youngest in his class. We thought he was ready for DK and would be fine as the youngest in his class the ENTIRE way through elementary school. We also told the school that if he needed to repeat DK (if he was not ready to move on to K) we would be fine with that. You should also think about what it will be like for your child, as the youngest in the class, to be with kids a year or more older than him/her. Sometimes your child will be in a class with a child who has repeated a grade and is therefore more than a year older than yours.

With a Dec. 28th birthday, however, it’s not even close. This readers son misses the Sept. 1 cutoff date. Private schools RARELY make exceptions to their cutoff dates. Because, if they make an exception for one child, they would have to make exceptions for many others. Occasionally, parents will enroll their child in public kindergarten which has cutoff dates that allow children to enter kindergarten younger than private schools. They will then switch to private school and repeat kindergarten the following year.

These decisions depend on the maturity of your child, not just cutoff dates. Your child may meet a cutoff date, but really not be ready for kindergarten. Or, your child may just miss the cutoff and be ready. Your preschool director is usually a really good resource to help you make this decision. And, you know your child better than anyone. Trust your instincts.



LA Independent Schools Spring Kindergarten Faire-Wed. May 12

Los Angeles Area Independent Elementary School

Spring Kindergarten Faire

This exciting, informative evening will introduce families to more than 45 different independent schools in and around Los Angeles.

The forum will be held on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 6:30- 8:30PM at Westside Neighborhood School 5401 Beethoven Street Los Angeles, CA 90066 310-574-8650

The following schools are expected to participate:

Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School ~ Adat Ari El ~ Berkeley Hall School Beth Hillel Day School ~ Brawerman Elementary School of Wilshire Blvd. Temple Brentwood School ~ The Buckley School ~ Calvary Christian School Campbell Hall School ~ Carlthorp School ~ The Center for Early Education Chatsworth Hills Academy ~ Children’s Community School ~ The Country School Crossroads School for Arts &Sciences ~ Curtis School ~ Echo Horizon School Foundations Community School ~ Heschel West ~ Hollywood Schoolhouse John Thomas Dye School ~ Kadima Hebrew Academy ~ Laurence School Los Encinos School ~ Mirman School for Gifted Children New Roads Elementary School ~ The Oaks School ~ Oakwood School Pilgrim School ~ PS#1 Elementary School ~ Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am ~ Seven Arrows Elementary School ~ Sierra Canyon Sinai Akiba Academy ~ St. James’ Episcopal School ~ St. Matthew’s Parish School Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School ~ Temple Emanuel Academy School Temple Israel of Hollywood ~ Turning Point School ~ Valley Beth Shalom School Viewpoint School ~ Village School ~ The Wesley School ~ Westland School Westside NeighborhoodSchool ~ Westside Waldorf School ~ Wildwood School The Willows Community School

and The Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs