Year End Is Almost Here and Summer Is Near

I can’t believe it’s almost summer vacation. Since my kids started school at The Willows School, time has moved really fast.

When my kids were in preschool, everything seemed very s-l-o-w. Now, I can barely keep up!

My daughter, who is in third grade, will take the ERB test soon (this is the standardized test required for all private/independent school students in third or fourth grade). It’s sort of like a mini SAT with math and reading comprehension sections. The kids are tested over several days and results are sent to each family. As you may know, it’s a BIG DEAL.

A few nights ago, my husband took the kids to The Willows School’s “Family Science Night”. The kids had a chance to see hands-on science learning in action with activities presented by teachers across the grade levels. Highlights included an activity featuring some of the Rube Goldberg-style machine constructions from the year, which illustrate the principles of force and motion; a demonstration of student-designed, mousetrap-powered cars; activities with digital microscopes and the hand-held ProScopes; and a mysterious DNA decoding activity!

In first grade, the kids are learning about careers, jobs, professions. Parents have been coming to class to talk to the kids about their jobs. My son’s favorite was when the dad who owns a hair salon came to class to cut and style one of the teacher’s hair! My son was thrilled when he got to sweep up the hair just like in a real salon.

Next week, my daughter will head to El Capitan for two-day field trip with the Willows School’s 3rd Grade. I admit, I’m a bit nervous since she’s never been on a two-night trip without me (I didn’t sign up to chaperone the trip…I’m not much of a camper). But, last year the second grade went on an overnight field trip to Sea World and she had a blast.

Fast forward to summer, which will be filled with camp, camp and more camp. UCLA Basketball Camp and Iverbe Sports Camp & Iverbe Soccer Camp for my son. My daughter and several of her friends will attend Marlborough School’s summer program then my daughter will do a three week tennis camp. FYI: Iverbe Summer Camp (the amazing summer camp at The Willows School ) just announced a junior camp for 3-4 year olds.

That’s all for now…I’m getting ready to take my daughter shopping at Target for her camping trip.

Admissions Notes

Now that the admissions process is over (unless you’re on a wait-list), we wanted to share some of the feedback we’ve received from parents who went through the process for Fall 2010. Here’s what we heard:

What went right:
  • Several families applied to lots of schools i.e. 5 or more and were accepted at several schools
  • Several families told the school what they loved about the school (being very specific)
  • Several families asked their contacts/friends for letters of recommendation
  • Families spent the time to write each application tailored to the specific school rather than cutting & pasting the same generic answers for each school
  • Two kids got accepted from wait-lists already
What went wrong:
  • Several families applied to 3 or fewer schools and were not accepted at any of them
  • One parent challenged the school’s educational philosophy during the parent interview and didn’t get into the school
  • A family whose child attended a very traditional preschool (parochial) but applied to developmental/progressive elementary schools without explaining the reason was wait-listed
  • A few parents who didn’t complete their financial aid forms in time but cannot afford tuition were wait-listed or declined admission
We’ll post more admissions notes if you’d like to share them with us… or leave a comment (you can remain anonymous).

Private Elementary School Fashion Alert!

What are moms at private elementary schools wearing these days? We’re sure you’ve been wondering what “uniform” moms at various schools wear. We thought we’d lighten things up a bit with this fashion dispatch.

Curtis School

The Look:“See and Be Scene”

What they’re wearing now:

·Skinny Jeans by 7 For All Mankind, Rock & Republic &Citizens of Humanity

·Tory Burch tunics and flats

·Cashmere sweaters

·Gucci oversized sunglasses

·Diamond earrings

·Chanel and Hermes handbags

·10 carat wedding rings

Favorite Magazines: Vogue, Angeleno

Fashion Icon: Supermodel Heidi Klum


The Willows Community School

The Look: Fashion Forward”

What they’re wearing now:

·J Brand Skinny Jeans, Joe’s Jeans, Levis & Rock & Republic

·Sigerson Morrison gladiator sandals

· Hair by Neil George Salon, Beverly Hills

·Rag and Bone, Twenty 8 Twelve Leather Jackets

·Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Alice & Olivia

·Yves St. Laurent, Prada & Chloe Handbags

·Jewelry from The Bead Boutique on 3rd St.

Favorite Magazine: In Style

Fashion Icon: Cameron Diaz


Westland School

The Look: Rich Hippie

What They’re Wearing Now:

·Long hair (no Brazilian blow outs)

·No makeup

·Birkenstock or Chloe sandals


·Leather jackets by Rag and Bone, Twenty 8 Twelve & Rick Owens

·Eco-friendly clothes

·Phillip Lim, Miu Miu

·Converse tennis shoes

Favorite Magazine: Vanity Fair

Fashion Icon: Julia Roberts


Campbell Hall:

The Look: “Classic Chic”

What They’re Wearing Now:

·Short Hair

·J Crew Khaki trousers

·Button down shirts

· Dillon Rogers Name Disc Necklaces

·Espadrille wedges

·Coach handbags

·CJ Jeans

· Wrap sweaters & yoga pants

·Elie Tahari & Ann Taylor

·Louis Vuitton Handbags

Favorite Magazines: Oprah’sO Magazine, Redbook

Fashion Icon: Reese Witherspoon


The Center For Early Education

The Look: “Haute Hipster”

What They’re Wearing Now:

·J Brand Skinny Jeans

·Anything Balenciaga or Marc Jacobs

·Motorcycle boots

·T-shirts and big scarves

·Leggings w/ oversized sweaters and wide belts

·Christian Louboutin shoes

·Chanel Handbags

·High/low mix of jewelry

·Long hair (extensions when needed & Brazilian blow-outs a must)

Favorite Magazine: Elle

Fashion Icon: Angelina Jolie


Oakwood School:

The Look: Earth Mother”

What They’re Wearing Now:

·Cargo Pants from The Gap

·American Apparel t-shirts

· Henry Cuir handbags

· Marni or any boho-chic wear

· Anthropologie, vintage inspired aesthetic

·Anorak Jackets


·Patchouli oil, hair color optional

Favorite Magazines: Mother Jones, Self

Fashion Icon: Musician Cheryl Crow


Brentwood School:

The Look: “Country Club Chic”

What They’re Wearing Now:

·Anything Prada or Gucci

·Tory Burch tunics and shoes

·Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dresses

·Jeweled sandals


·Bottega Veneta handbags

·Juicy Couture

Favorite Magazine: Town and Country

Fashion Icon: Brooke Shields


Buckley School

The Look: “Uber-Luxe”

What They’re Wearing Now:

·Skinny Jeans

·Anything Fendi or Gucci

·Ballet Flats

·Gucci Sunglasses

· Hermes Kelly or Birkin Bags

·Anything Chanel

·Diamond embellished watches

Favorite Magazine:Harper’s Bazaar

Fashion Icon: Kimora Lee Simmons

Admissions: The Order Of The Universe

When we were applying to schools for my daughter, the question that sparked so much discussion among my mom friends was, “how do LA private elementary schools select the kids who get offered admission?”

We cover this topic in greater detail in Beyond The Brochure, but we thought we’d give a short summary of what happens behind the scenes during the admissions process.

Anne Simon, Beyond The Brochure Co-Author, who has more than 30 years of experience as a head of school and admissions director, says that private elementary schools definitely have an order to the admissions selection process. Here it is:


1. Siblings. At most private elementary schools, siblings receive priority. They must go through the admissions process, but they generally will be accepted unless they are not the right fit for the school.


2. Legacies. If one or both parents attended the school as a child, they are given priority over other applicants. This is especially true if they have been generous in supporting the school financially and have been active in the school’s alumni organization. However, don’t forget that some newer school don’t have legacies because the first graduating class is still too young to have children. This is the case at the Willows, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary.


3. VIPs. This is a subjective group of applicants who will receive priority. If a family is very close to a member of the board, they will likely be special attention. If a family is close to one of the school’s big donors, they will probably be given a very close look, especially if the donor attests to their giving interests. Relatives of board members and big donors also fall into the VIP category. In each of these situations there will be a preference to find the family and applicant acceptable rather than the family needing to prove their worthiness to the school.


4. Gender balance. Each class must have approximately 50 percent boys and 50 percent girls. It’s easy to see why this is necessary. Imagine a class where there were 19 boys and 3 girls!


5. Ethnic Diversity. Many private elementary schools in LA strive to have a class that is ethnically diverse. Some schools do a much better job with this issue than others.That is partly due to geography. Schools in diverse areas have an easier time attracting diverse families.A school’s lack of diversity can also be attributed to the administration, the school’s educational philosophy and it’s lack of diversity (most diverse families seek diversity in a school so this becomes a vicious circle). You may also notice that some very traditional schools admit traditional two parent families. At some schools you won’t see many (if any) gay or lesbian parents, single parents, mixed-race or any non-traditional families. This probably has to do with the culture of the school and not necessarily an admissions practice.


6. Child’s Personality Types. Quiet, energetic, shy, outgoing, artistic, athletic, studious, bright, quirky, creative, kind, nurturing.Private schools try to build a class that has a mix of various types of kids, with different personality types. They also think about whether a group of kids will work well together as a class. Don’t forget, these kids will be together for at least K-6th grade!


7. The family. Private schools require families who can support the school financially beyond the tuition. They also need families who will volunteer their time. They need parents who have professional skills to offer the school. They look for families who may eventually serve on the board, a committee or run the parent association. They look for a track record of volunteering and charity work.


8. Celebrities. In LA, we can’t forget about celebrities. Certain schools seem to have lots of celebrity families. Others have few or none. Celebrity isn’t a guarantee for admission, but it will obviously help a family’s application to stand out. However, some schools are not equipped to handle big stars. A few years ago, when David Beckham and his wife were looking at private elementary schools in LA, a number of schools could not accommodate the security needs of his family and therefore were not interested in having the Beckham’s apply. Note: this category could move up in the order of things depending on the school or the celebrity.