My friend and colleague, Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout has a great new FAQ about private schools on her blog!
Click on LA School Scout and you’ll see a yellow box at the top of the site with the FAQ. You can listen to audio of FAQ or read the short text answers. Definitely worth checking out since it has lots of helpful information! You can see my previous blog interview with Sandy here.
I know, we’ve talked about this before, and I am constantly being asked which school I consider to be “the best.” It can be frustrating for parents to figure out what is “the best” school for their child, be it preschool, elementary, middle or high – or even college. But the reality is that there is no unilateral “best.” Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
For those of you who need a definitive answer (all of us!) I know this can be maddening. For those of you who have high-performing children, who would tear their hair out with boredom if in an undemanding environment where the norm falls far below their abilities and there is little or no differentiation for high ability kids, well, your path is clear. Your child will be happy in an academically demanding, highly structured environment.
If you are not that parent, but you have that child, well, good luck there. Not every school is a perfect fit for the whole family. If you go with your preference, your high ability kid may start acting out in ways that make it look like they are struggling. They are struggling – and might need a classroom where that same energy is being used to master more demanding material. Their brains are hungry for that finely ordered style of learning.
There are some less structured, more child-driven educational environments that have the same level of high expectations as the more structured classroom – but you might not see them that way. What they’re doing in the classroom is hands-on, no one is memorizing a thing, parents seem to love the school but you have no idea what your child is actually doing day-to-day – this might be a fit for your child but it might not be a school for you.
Whatever your choice is in schools, you really do need to “drink the Kool-Aid”™ or the whole experience will not be a match for you.
If you have a task-driven child, it goes without saying that you want to give them those tasks. If you have a deep or original thinker, or a “creative kid,” the mundane tasks of learning – repetition, memorization, detail – may hold no interest whatsoever. If they are in a school environment that is less structured, they might thrive. For some, though, they will need to “do the detail” in order to keep their lofty ideas grounded. Figuring out what might be the right match is not as easy as it seems.
So that notion of “best”? It’s really a moving target, based on too many inconsistent factors.
The key here is to make sure that you’re offering your child the school that fits who they are, not just who you are. Sometimes that’s an easy guess; sometimes not. Take a look at the variety of schools out there, and make your best choice. That’s all that any parent can do.
If you need help with any part of this process, that’s why I’m here. Trying to decide between “progressive” and “traditional”? Considering a move from public to private? Are you concerned that your child might have some learning issues which did not surface until they started school? We can help you with all of your school-related questions.
Sandy Eiges is the founder of LA School Scout, one of LA’s premier educational consulting firms.
Editor’s Note: As we mentioned on Beyond The Brochure’s Facebook Page, our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families.
For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that not all applicants who apply to private schools get in to private schools. Some of you have been stunned to learn that your child was deemed “not quite ready,” or “not qualified” for a particular school.
Now this isn’t New York, where all children applying to private schools must take an IQ test, and all children applying to some of the better public schools must do the same.There is no entrance exam for public school in L.A.; there is no uniform Kindergarten readiness assessment used by all of the L.A. private schools.
But there is concern as to whether a child is truly ready. In recent years the concept of “kindergarten readiness” has been a rallying cry – for teachers coping with increasingly demanding academic standards when there are 4 ½ year olds in the classrooms; to parents who feel like their child is ready and eager to learn, no matter the chronological age; to state departments of education, trying to determine how many children can comfortably fit into the norm, by age.
It is part of the accepted canon that “school readiness” means having the ability to learn and cope with the school environment without undue stress – and that a child’s intelligence plays only a minor role in his or her ability to cope with the school day.
Different schools use different criteria for kindergarten readiness. In most cases, children must be around 5 years old in order to begin, but age alone, just like IQ alone, is not indicative of whether a child can handle what is in most cases an increasingly academically rigorous curriculum. In addition to academics, children must be ready for school physically, socially and emotionally. Language, fine and gross motor skills, and the ability to self-regulate will support their success in school.
These days many children start school at closer to six years old. But there are parents out there who think that their child is ready at four or five – and some are. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all in Kindergarten. But there are some basic skills and abilities your child should have in order to increase the likelihood that your child will have a successful Kindergarten experience. And some of those skills and abilities are the result of the individual child’s development.
If you need the peace of mind that your child is on track and developmentally ready for an academically rigorous Kindergarten, or that your child could use an extra year of preschool to solidify his or her social-emotional development, we are now scheduling Kindergarten readiness assessments from May through August. Please contact sandy@LAschoolscout.com for details.
What Do They Mean By A Waitlist
or Are They Just Shining Me On?
Hi everyone,This is turning into an annual ritual – the writing of the newsletter about the waitlist. But first, congratulations to all of you out there who received those coveted acceptances!
As most of you might already know, all of the private elementary schools send out their acceptance letters on an agreed upon date; this year it was March 15th. That means that Saturday was definitely D day for those of you applying to private schools.
To those of you with acceptance letters, congratulations! But whether you’re dancing in the streets with letters of acceptance from all of the schools you applied to, or howling in pain from rejection letter after rejection letter, chances are that you also received at least one letter saying that they were happy to inform you that you were being placed on a waitlist. Yup, just like being cryogenically frozen in time, you were going to have to wait for some future time when you were suddenly going to be accepted into the school of your dreams. Ah, the future!
But there’s no guarantee of that rosy future, and by the way they didn’t tell you when you might hope to emerge from said waitlist. So what exactly does that waitlist mean?
First, it is not a euphemism for “thanks, but no thanks.” Schools take applicants from their waitlists all the time. Let’s say an applicant applies to half a dozen schools and gets into all of them. This might be what is known as a good problem, but the reality is, they can only go to one school. So their spot at all of those other schools suddenly becomes available to someone on – drumroll, please – the waitlist. Here, being waitlisted is a good thing.
In general, if you’re on a Kindergarten waitlist at a school you’re truly interested in, let the school know that you are interested in staying on the waitlist. You have no idea how many people don’t bother to let anyone know. And while some schools will in fact keep that list, many will need that gentle reminder that this school is your first pick school, and you’re holding out for it. If it is your first pick school, let them know that if offered a space, you will take it! I can’t stress this enough.
Secondly, for those of you glass half fullers out there, the waitlist is a step up – it is not a euphemism for you are not getting into any school. Trust me, if they are not interested in you they will not offer you a space, period, not even a waitlist space. There are people who get that letter – sorry, but we are not going to be able to offer you a spot. Period. That is definitely a “thanks, but no thanks.” So now the waitlist is looking up, isn’t it?
And thirdly, being on the waitlist means that, agonizing as it is, it’s not over. You might be offered a space in two weeks or a month from now; you might be offered a space at the end of August. Spaces open up all the time.
But if the waitlist is making you feel crazy, this might just be the right time to find a viable alternative, public, private or parochial. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to call. You can reach me atsandy@LAschoolscout.com or 310 926 0050; or submit an inquiry form on my website atwww.LAschoolscout.com. I will do my best to get back to you within 24 hours. Please note that March is fully booked, and I am now scheduling appointment for April.
Stay open, stay flexible, stay tuned for more on what those of you applying for September 2014 need to do right now. And for the time being, congratulations to all of you who were waitlisted. Take heart – the end is not near…yet.
Have a wonderful spring break! I will be out of town from March 23-March 29, and there will not be a newsletter next week.