Choosing A Preschool: 5 Things That Matter and 5 That Probably Don’t by Mommy Poppins



Sunshine Preschool in Brentwood has a reputation as a "feeder" school to John Thomas Dye, Brentwood and others.
Sunshine Preschool in Brentwood has a reputation as a strong “feeder preschool” to John Thomas Dye and Brentwood School. Photo: Sunshine

Here’s a super-helpful article in Mommy Poppins by Jacqueline Stanbury about choosing a preschool in L.A. I sent my kids to two different preschools. My daughter went to an expensive preschool (Montessori Shir-Hashirim) with celebrities and all the extras like Chinese, theater and piano lessons. It is a “feeder preschool” to several schools where I knew we’d apply for my daughter (Oakwood, Willows). It is also feeds to  schools like Laurence, Center For Early Education and Mirman where we didn’t apply. My daughter flourished there and attended Willows for K-6. She’s now in 10th grade at Viewpoint in Calabasas.

My son attended a local neighborhood school that has since closed. I found it through a friend who sent her son there. It wasn’t fancy and cost about half the price of my daughter’s school. It had great teachers, a shabby exterior, hot lunch and a willingness to play football in the yard with him before pickup. He loved it. He was the only kid who attended private elementary school from that preschool and that’s because his sister was already at The Willows. If I’d wanted him to go to a different private school, the preschool director wouldn’t have been able to help at all.

I will say that Stanbury makes an important point about preschools that feed to specific elementary schools. She says, “Those of us who make the mistake of applying only to preschools that feed into one of Los Angeles’s many prestigious elementary programs can too easily get caught up in seeking approval from the director to secure a kindergarten slot.” However, I think these  “feeder preschools” can be important if you want your child to attend a specific, competitive private elementary school.

There’s a clear path from certain preschools to a few of the same elementary schools every year. By sending their kids to “feeder preschools” parents hope to increase their chances of getting into schools like John Thomas Dye, Curtis, Brentwood, Carlthorp and others. Attending a “feeder” isn’t a guarantee into specific schools, but it’s a good place to start (if you can get in) and it makes it a lot easier than applying from a preschool John Thomas Dye has never heard of–good luck with that! Certain hard-to-get-into-private elementary schools admit high numbers of kids from “feeder preschools” and you’ll have to decide if that’s the route you want to go. There are politics involved in elementary school admissions and reasons as to why they choose kids from preschools they know and have worked with for years. Relationships exist between the preschool director and elementary school admission director. A single phone call can smooth the way for your kid to get in. A blow-up with the preschool director can ruin everything. Your relationship with your preschool director can’t be underestimated when it comes time for your kids to apply to kindergarten. And, expect that the preschool director will wield power when it comes to where your kid should attend elementary school. If you have your heart set on one school, but the director thinks it’s not the right school for your child, you’ll be in a difficult position and that’s where your negotiating skills will be required. Also be aware that your child will be competing for a few kindergarten spots with his/her classmates. It all depends on what you’re looking for in a school. “Feeder Preschools” are one option, but certainly not the only preschool option! As the author points out, and I agree, a small, low-key neighborhood school can be just the right place for your child too.

Click to read Choosing A Preschool 5 Things That Matter and 5 That Probably Don’t


Sunshine Preschool in Brentwood. Photo: Sunshine
Sunshine Preschool in Brentwood. Photo: Sunshine

Here’s more about Beyond The Brochure’s thoughts on “feeder schools” as we explore how it works and some of the benefits and drawbacks:

You’ll note that when we talk about “feeder” schools (preschools that send more than a few students to particular elementary schools every year) we put the term “feeder” in quotation marks. We use quotes because there is some disagreement within the private school community about whether “feeder” schools even exist. We think they do. But, some private school administrators, preschool directors and even some parents don’t buy into the idea of a “feeder” school. They argue that even if a school is termed a “feeder” school for a certain elementary school, there is no guarantee that any specific child will get into that school. They also believe that to call a preschool a “feeder” diminishes the hard work of the preschool staff and the students who are accepted to the elementary school that receives the “feeder” preschool’s kids. In other words, saying a preschool is a “feeder” implies that it operates primarily on it’s relationship and connections with an elementary school and not much more.

Those are definitely valid points. We do think “feeder” schools develop based on relationships and connections between schools, but also because a particular preschool fits the educational philosophy of a specific elementary school. And, the elementary school probably has success with students and parents from that preschool.

We simply believe that if you look at certain preschools and the number of students they send each year to certain elementary schools, they fit our definition of “feeder” school. If a preschool sends 1/3 or more of it’s class to the same elementary school year after year, that’s what we’d call a “feeder” preschool. We think this is helpful information when you’re in the application process. It can give you important information about your child’s preschool and about the preschool director’s ability to help you place your child. But, don’t enroll your child in a “feeder” preschool just because you want your child to attend a certain elementary school. That’s not enough of a reason to pick a preschool-and things might not work out as you planned. You need to really love your preschool and if it’s a “feeder” to a great private elementary school, all the better. See our previous posts for more about which preschools are known as “feeder” schools. This term also applies to elementary schools that send significant numbers of kids to upper schools.

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Weekend Links: Outdoor Schools, Event Snaps and Praise for BTB

Thanks, Mommy Poppins!

We were very honored to learn that, Mommy Poppins, a national resource for fun, cool things to do with your kids, named Beyond The Brochure one of their favorite Los Angeles mom blogs! Here’s what they say:


Beyond the Brochure
“Christina Simon’s blog – and book – about private schools in LA have become the industry standard. Her guest post in our Schools Guide offers a taste of her expertise; the Beyond the Brochure blog takes readers far more in-depth on private school issues”.–Mommy Poppins

Thanks, Mommy Poppins. We’re thrilled! See the link here.


I went to my first clothing swap event, where one person’s trash is another’s treasure. It was crazy fun as we swapped clothes, sipped drinks and tried on everything. Literally.

At a super-fun clothing swap event with some of my favorite L.A. mom bloggers (Jill Simonian, Sarah James, Jennifer Brandt (host) and Diane Mizota. Event was sponsored by Glad. #Trashcrashers.
At a super-fun clothing swap event with some of my favorite L.A. mom bloggers (Jill Simonian, Sarah James, Jennifer Brandt (host) and Diane Mizota. Event was sponsored by Glad. #Trashcrashers.
The BEST party swag! Stuff moms can use from Glad. #TrashCrashers
The BEST party swag! Stuff moms can use from Glad. #TrashCrashers


Recently a friend told me about a forest preschool (and K) in Boston. Curious, I found an article about this interesting trend toward outdoor schooling…kids go to school in weather as cold as 15 degrees.  (Boston Globe)


Have a great weekend!–Christina

The Scoop on Applying To L.A. Private Elementary Schools (re-post) and Upcoming Private School Events

Hi Friends!

There are several private school events on the calendar:


  • Beyond The Brochure event! Join Momangeles at Kidville in Brentwood for Demystifying the LA Private Elementary School Admissions Process led by our regular contributor Christina Simon of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles and co-author Porcha Dodson, with additional expert insight from school consultant Sandy Eiges of L.A. School Scout. This event is chock full of great information about the private elementary school application process and answer your questions. Discussion starts promptly at 7:00 pm. Topics will include:
      • Selecting Which Schools To Visit
      • The Parent Interview
      • Your Child’s Visiting/Testing Day
      • Letters of Recommendation
      • When To Use The Phrase, “if accepted, we will enroll”
      • What To Do If Your Child Is Wait-Listed
      • Financial Aid 

Tickets are $25.00 per person and $40.00 per couple. Visit Momangeles for more information.


  • Elementary School Admissions Directors (EASD) Fall 2012 Fair, September 27, 2012 at Campbell Hall. Visit, EASD for more details and read about the best tips for navigating the Fair on Launch Education’s blog.
  • Club Mom Me, “The Ins and Outs of Preschool in LA,” with Sandy Eiges and Michelle Nitka, Sat. Oct. 6, 2012 at 2 p.m. at Joslyn Park, Santa Monica. Visit, for more information.
  •  Curtis School Fair, Sunday, Oct. 14, 11-5, Open to the community, a great chance to see the school and have fun with your family!
  • Willows School Book Fair: Sunday, November 11, 11-4. This is my favorite school event…books, food, entertainment for the whole family. Open to the community.

Here’s a guest post I wrote for Mommy Poppins in March. I’m re-posting it because many of you are just beginning the school admissions process. I hope you find it helpful!

Here’s a quote from my Mommy Poppins piece:


“When my husband and I applied to kindergarten for my daughter, the schools seemed somewhat mysterious, like hidden gems. Neither of us attended private school, and most of these schools aren’t exactly an open book. Terms like “visiting day” and “parent interview” weren’t part of our daily vocabulary. That would soon change!”

Click on Mommy Poppins to read.



Get The Scoop On Applying To L.A. Private Elementary Schools on “Mommy Poppins”

Hi Everyone,

I’m guest blogging today at Mommy Poppins, a great website for L.A. moms and families!

Get The Scoop On Applying To Private Elementary Schools

“If you’re one of the thousands of parents who applied to private elementary schools for Fall 2012, you probably just received admissions letters, and hopefully the news was good. Or, you might have friends who just got their letters.” To continue reading, click on Mommy Poppins

Have a great weekend!- Christina

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