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public kindergarten in cambridge, ma?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

may be moving to cambridge, specifically to harvard sq.


does anyone have info on good public elementary schools in cambridge?


thanks, j

post #2 of 10

Cambridge has public full-day kindergartens but you are assigned a school by lottery--not by neighborhood.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

right, but you still have to put your top 3 preferences down and just wanted to hear more about the schools as i can't visit myself.............

post #4 of 10

Each Cambridge elementary school is unique, and everyone has their favorites.  One school (Amigos) is two-way Spanish-English bilingual, one (King) has a Chinese language component in all grades (with an 8th grade class trip to China), one (King Open) has a Portuguese language component.  Graham and Parks, King Open, and Cambridgeport (and Tobin, which is the public Montessori school in the city) are considered the most alternative in their educational approach.  There are several other schools, too.  Cambridge has controlled choice-- most people get one of their top three choices, regardless of where you live.  I recommend reading the Schools At A Glance Brochure on the CPS Web site -- it has a one-page description of each school. 

post #5 of 10

Cambridge public elementary schools are excellent...they do not, for the most part, teach towards the MCAS (MA testing).  Excellent curriculum, excellent teachers.  Honestly, your child will be lucky to go elementary school there.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

thank you for your responses---i appreciate it very, very much!


i actually do know all of that info that is on the cps website......


i was just looking for inside info....


ideally, i could visit the schools myself and get my own sense, but we live in GA that may not be possible at this time.


Just wanting a sense of personal experiences with cambridge elementary, other people's sense and assessment when they visited....i am sure there must be a lot of parents visiting schools and trying to decide what preferences to put down, it would be nice to hear others' thoughts.....


for example, my kids go to a private montessori school that i love, and so Tobin Montessori sounds interesting.  at the same time, i know anyone can start a school and call it montessori--so i was interested in the experiences and thoughts of people who have kids in the school or who have visited...


also, graham and parks and baldwin would be close to where we would live---any info on those?


also, amigos and king open also piqued my interest--any experiences?


if anyone knows other websites/forums i can get parents perspectives/exp./reviews on schools that would be great---i already checked out greatschools and they have very limited info....


thank you so much!!

post #7 of 10

I would recommend joining the Cambridge Families yahoo group for more information.  You can search previous posts and get some good insights.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

thanks! that's very helpful.......

post #9 of 10

One of the staff members for the Tobin school was head of school in a couple of area private Montessori schools.  I haven't visited Tobin myself, but I would think with him as a part of it that they're pretty authentic.  They also have a program that starts at 3 years old, unlike other public M schools.

post #10 of 10

I grew up in the Cambridge public schools in the 1980s, live in Cambridge now, but don't have children (yet) in the Cambridge schools.  There was a big reorg of the elementary schools several years ago.  A plan to consolidate the upper grades (6-8) into only four elementary schools (each which now is K-8) has been brewing for a long time due to low enrollment of those grades, and may happen with the new Superintendent.


A note about Tobin:  the Montessori curriculum started only a few years ago and is being added to a new grade each year.  It started at pre-K/Kindergarten -- I am not sure what grade it's up to now --  maybe third.  Yes, a nice thing about Tobin is that you can start at age three (instead of age four, which is the case at the other elementary schools).  If you have younger children, you can apply to start them at Tobin at 3, and then keep them there or move them to another school.


Personally, I think being able to walk to school is very important -- it is convenient, a de-stressor, and healthy for children, parents, and the environment.  That said, I think Graham & Parks is one of the best and most popular schools in the system, so you're lucky that you will be close.  It's slightly larger than most of the other elementary schools, though, which some people might not like.  I don't have stats on the census of each school's upper grades, but I would bet the G&P's is good and might therefore keep its upper grades if the middle school plan happens.  I attended the school that is now Baldwin, but that was a long time ago, so I can't speak to how things are now.  My impression, though, is that it's very good and a great bet, but more conventional in its educational approach compared to G&P, which you may or may not like.  


With controlled choice, living close to a school is ONE factor in  giving you preference for being picked for that school -- but mostly only if you pick it as one of your three choices.  It's very rare for someone to get a school that is not one of their three choices, but it does happen occasionally, but there is a wait-list system I believe.  


I have heard very good things about King Open and Amigos.  They're both popular.  Anecdotally, I talked to one Amigos dad who said his daughter loves being at Amigos but she struggled a bit at one time in the weeks that math is taught in Spanish (she doesn't speak Spanish at home).  I am not sure what the break-down is of children who speak Spanish at home and children who speak English at home -- I think most children speak exclusively English at home but I am not sure.


Another factor to consider is when the school days start and end.  I know one family who liked the idea of Tobin but decided on Amigos because it is closer to home and the day starts later than Tobin -- they are a late-rising family.


A final note:  the schools are a very personal choice -- a lot of people swear by whatever school they are familiar with.  If you have specific criteria for what you're looking for, I may be able to help you narrow your choices.  


You may want to get on the email list of the school committee members, such as Patty Nolan, who has informative e-newsletters.


Good luck!



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