An Unsettled Feeling On The Blog



There’s an unsettled feeling on this blog. It’s a time of change for my family and many of our readers. Private school admissions letters and emails have been sent, contracts signed, wait-list changes are happening and overall, this leaves one with an unsettled feeling, even when the news is the best you could have imagined. And, especially when the news isn’t what you were hoping or expecting.


My kids are starting at Viewpoint School in the fall. Our entire family is thrilled and a bit unsettled. So far, the welcome has been incredibly warm. Still, we know transitions can be stressful and we’re talking a lot about what the new school will be like. My daughter has worries about making new friends (she’ll be starting 7th grade…who wouldn’t worry?). My son doesn’t really express any concerns, but can barely contain his excitement about playing sports. They are both feeling very grown up because they will be taking the bus to school.


As a mom, I’m hoping to meet other moms by volunteering at school. For me, the connection with other moms at my kids’ school is important. It’s how a school becomes a community rather than a “commuter school”. I like when moms share information about summer camps or carpools or hot lunch. One of my friends has a kid starting at Viewpoint too, so I’m already feeling good about the mom friend thing. As she said in her email, “you’re going in with one friend already.” So is she!


The private school admissions process can take your breath away by its sheer competitiveness. Sometimes, people you hardly know step up and help you with calls, letters of recommendation, kind words of advice and support. Unfortunately, good friends you hoped to count on offer you nothing. This leaves me feeling very unsettled.


Some families are scrambling to put together a “Plan B” and that can be stressful. Your intentions were the best they could be. Your effort in applying schools was everything you could do. It didn’t happen and it’s a very shocking disappointment. Unsettled is where you might be. Angry and confused might also be good adjectives to describe the emotions. Wait-listed also describes that unsettled, up-in-the-air feeling.


There’s a lot about the private school admissions process that you may never know. That inevitable leaves one feeling very unsettled.


As parents we all want what’s best for our kids. Education is a huge part of that equation. That’s why this is so consuming, stressful and ultimately, hopefully, rewarding. If things didn’t work out as you planned, please, please please, don’t be too hard on yourself. This is not the kind of thing where you have enough control over the process to blame yourself for what went wrong. It just isn’t. There are options, always. You just have to be open to them. Just like tomorrow is a new day, next year is a new year.


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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.

Sleepover birthday parties and 14 hour playdates

Maybe I’m slightly old fashioned. Not the old fashioned parenting style of reality TV mom Kate Gosselin, of course. But, sometimes I wonder, despite the fact that I consider myself to be a liberal, modern mom. My kids are still young, six and nine years old. So when a parent at our school who I barely know, whose house I’ve never been to, invites my six year-old to a sleepover birthday party that lasts almost two entire days, I decline the invitation. My six year-old has never had a sleepover. My nine year-old has sleepovers at the homes of families I know well.

When a celebrity mom who pretends not to know who I am and routinely walks by me at school without as much as “hello” calls to request my daughter accompany her family to Disneyland (and spend the night there) I decline the request. Our kids aren’t friends. We’ve never been to her house and she’s never been to our house. Maybe it’s because we don’t know each other?
When parents complain about bad behavior among kids at sleepover parties, I’m not surprised. They’ve invited kids they barely know.
At private elementary schools, there are plenty of opportunities to drop off your kids with the nannies or babysitters of families that you don’t really know. Even on the weekends. They’ll take them on elaborate, all day outings that end late at night. I opt out of these type of invitations for my kids, no matter how generous they seem.
Sometimes I can tell a parent is annoyed that I’ve said “no thanks” to their invitation.
That’s ok. I’m a modern mom.