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Los Angeles area Kindergarten

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for a wonderful elementary school for my son who has been homeschooled thus far. He'll be entering Kindergarten next fall. We're vegetarian, uncirced, progressive, artsy people. Any input would be so much appreciated. Still I want him to have options if he has more academic tendancies.

Looking from San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica.

So far we're applying to The Center for Early Education, Wildwood (Culver City) and Oakwood (Studio City).

post #2 of 74
Hi mijumom, and welcome. You may also want to post this question in the Finding Your Tribe forum at MDC, since you may target members who do live in that area specifically. I think it is great that you are looking for a school that fits your son well!

This should get you to the right "tribal" area:

post #3 of 74
I'm looking for the same thing, I also live in LA, the Valley to be more specific. My sister, who is 12, has been going to Oakwood since Kindergarten. It's a pretty good school, but I'm not that impressed. It's pretty elitist. I'm not sure if you are wealthy or not, but everyone who does to that school has lots of money. I wouldn't feel comfortable with my daughter going to a school with people from only one socio-economic class. They are also big on homework, since about 3rd grade she has had homework that takes a few hours for her to complete every night. One thing I like about the school is that in 7th grade she is learning about revolutionaries and revolutions, the Chinese Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, Indian Revolution. I want to read most of the books that are required from this year. But over all, that aren't much different from any other school, I wouldn't consider them very progressive.

Pacifica Charter School in Culver City sounds really awesome, here is a link: http://pacificaschool.org/

I've heard good things about Children's Community School in Van Nuys.

There's also Play Mountain Place which again, I've heard good things about it. Here is a link: http://www.playmountain.org/ It's based partly on the Summerhill school.

This is probably the school that my daughter will go to next Sept. unless some outrageous charter school opens up near my house. It's a montessori school, Kinderhaus Montessori. Here's a link: http://montessoripasadena.com/

There is also a charter waldorf school on the westside that I heard about. I forget the name, but I can look it up if you are interested.
post #4 of 74
My sister used to teach at PS1, which was a very cool, alternative kind of school I believe in Santa Monica. It sounded so great to me that I'm looking at switching my dd to a similar kind of school in my area. If you are interested, PM me and I can find more info out for you.

post #5 of 74
Thread Starter 


As far as Oakwood, we went and saw it and we were so impressed by the sense of community and the philosophy they describred was heartwarming. Unfortunately, i didn't see much evidence of it being progressive and the more I hear the more it sounds like what I don't want to scrounge up $17,000 to pay. It seems they have some of the maintstream neurossis about doing everything. It's just not in sync with us. But it's really close to us so we've been trying to get amped about it. The philosophy is easy to espouse but actually executing it seems to be a challenge for a lot of schools.

I really liked Wildwood in Culver City. I fear Play Mountain may be too unstuctured, we're really liberal but i think a little structure is healthy. I'm not sure if PS1 is of the same ilk, it sounds interesting.

I wonder, does anyone know about The Willows school or New Roads?

It's hard to get the real scoop from the schools themselves. I've got to hear from fellow parents. Thanks for your input.
post #6 of 74
unless some outrageous charter school opens up near my house~ Feministfatale
there IS a charter opening in Pasadena! I read article about it. the name esacpes me. I did see a ad in LA parent magazine though. i'll look for it.

Try- Westland in Bel air on Mulholland
Apply to UES- corinne seeds university elementary school at UCLA - it is independent schol with a huge sliding scale, it's a innovative laboratory school that is very open ended. they test out different methods of teaching to be a model for all the other schools. It's very Pluralistic.
Ps #1 in Santa monica- I loved the idea but the campus stunk IMO.
Manhattan beach Acadamy Montessor -
In MB is AWESOME. but may be too far for you.
Santa monica motessori- a great school with another ugly campus but a good school
You sound like A Waldorf Momma to me. there is the city school( or is it the Urban school?) in Sherman oaks.
I am in the same boat. I need something developmental but NOT unstructed overly hippy like Play mountain. I need balance for a unfocused hyper-ish wanderer kid. what I think is a great developmental place is probably NOT rigt for my daughter that escapes through gates and runs down the street, yk? It is hard to find what she needs. Structure plus stimulation plus creative freedom. when you find that place, please Pm me!

I may be interested in that as well.
post #7 of 74
Thread Starter 


We looked at Westland and we were turned off by a couple of things. I thought it was going to be THE school for us but it just didn't impress us. One classroom had all of these signs saying NO WHINING, they were all over, everywhere. I thought it was so negative and weird. The kindergarten seemed wonderful but beyond that, I didn't get a clear sense of what they are doing.

I LOVE Wildwood but I don't know if we'll get in.

We are sooooo Waldorf in theory but some of the kids I know that go there live this sort of double life where they are airy fairy at school and then media obsessed and violent (in a normal way) at home. I met with a Kindergarten teacher and she seemed so oblivious to what the kids are actually exposed to. I want my kid to be a fully integrated person for better or worse. I think Waldorf is the best in many ways. It's just a little hypocritical to push the no media so hard when half the kids parents work in the industry and the kids are exposed. If i lived in New Mexico and was part of a community that truly lived it, I'd be all into it. Plus, the teaching is pretty traditional at a certain point. I go back and forth but ultimately it feels like sending our kids to a religious school when we don't follow that religion ourselves. The City School has an even more religious vibe than Highland Hall.

You seem like you get my drift. This is pretty intimidating but i have seen some good things, particularly Wildwood, a nice balance.

As far as struture, i think they need to be encouraged to be self-confident, creative, resourceful and imaginitive even in a structured environment so that they aren't feeling like everything has to be "just so" for them to feel emotionally and productively capable. Does that make sense? We are so unstructured and liberal ourselves i think as long as the school values the child in esoteric ways and encourages them to think outside the box even within a system that will be more condusive to them carrying those qualities in the "real" world. It's a delicate balance but for $17,000 dollars I expect the school to figure out how to do that. Give them just enough resistence to keep them on their toes without squelching any confidence, talent and creativity.
post #8 of 74
Thread Starter 


Does anyone get in there?
post #9 of 74
Thread Starter 


I just saw on their website, deadline was Dec. 17th.
post #10 of 74
Thread Starter 
Sorry, one last question. What "stunk" about the PS#1 campus? It looks kind of interesting.
post #11 of 74
Play Mountain Place seems a little too unstructured for me too, I just thought I would put it out there because I know other parents who love it.

Yes, Oakwood's philopsphy is great, but I'm not sure they are getting teachers who follow that philosophy. It's very traditional when you get down to it, and very academically driven. They really push their students, which some people might think is great, but I want learning to be fun, not to a chore.

I've been drooling over UES, it sounds so awesome and since I went to UCLA I like it even more. But the drive there sucks, I could do it on my own, but not with my big kid and baby every day. Why do all the great schools have to be on the westside?!

elyice -- I would love to know the name of the new charter school opening up in Pasadena. I'm willing to drive to Pas. for a good school, esp. if it's free.
post #12 of 74
I went to PS#1, 4 years ago for the tour. I loved the program but The campus (at the time) seemed dull and lifeless. I didn't see a grass yard or any greenery. It was situated on a small lot next to (at the time probably different now) a dilapidated slummy building.
I just remember that I was wholly unimpressed and after drooling over the schools phiosophy since I was pg, the tour turned me off totally. the UES campus was beautiful and soothing. I really think the physical enviornment has a lot to do with the emotional state of the children. I want my kids to feel realxed and calmed for 6 hours of the day. I loved loved Manhattan Acadamy in MB. It is a traditional motessori in the primary grades but it evolves into middle school. the Preschool is awesome. I know families that attend and love it. The campus is gorgeous. The details of a school speak volumes to me. If the walls are not clean, I wonder why they administration does not have parental involvement possibly painting on a weekend? I also wonder what other essentials are being skimped on? where is the money going? I want to know if the teachers are paid well, are the people that are "raising" my child in a sense, happy working here? My DD is so inattentive that she requires structure. she cannot run around all day left to her own devices. She needs to be on a schedule and be directed. But I cring at the traditional classroom setting. I want to look at founations in van nuys, community school, westland, chimes charter.
here is a website of california charter schools california charter schools
FF where are you coming from? UES from Sherman oaks is just 15 minutes via beverly glen- sunset, I timed it at 3pm.
This may be the school. I can't find the la parent mag but this name sounds familiar odessey pasadena keep me updated on what you find please. thanks.
post #13 of 74
Thread Starter 
We are in Toluca Lake right now but we will buy a house in wichever location are son will go to school. My DH just won't go to Pasadena or furhter than Mar Vista/Santa Monica and we really want to stay local to whatever school we choose/get into.

Like I said I'm too late for UES for next year.

Thanks for the low-down on PS#1.

We saw Foundations and we loved the philosophy but felt the campus was really depressing (small rooms, old run down church). Can't do it for that much money. But, they are doing some great things there.

Children's Community is really wonderful but we can't consider it for complicated reasons...it's definitley worth looking at. Maybe not quite structured enough but i though it was nearly perfect.
post #14 of 74
If you want a great free public school- skip La unified for the most part and go to Las virgenes school district- Clabasses- Bell canyon and that area. SInce you are moving anyway. It's 30 monutes off the 101 from where you are living now. Exit Mulholland vally circle. goregous neighborhods.
There are some good Public's in the Valley in La unified. I know firsthnad that dixie canyon in sherman oaks in one of the best schools in los angeles. it is as involved as the top private schools- I know that firsthand as well. the parents run the school. they pay for musicteachers, art teachers and other "extras" everyone donates whateverthey can on a monthly or yearly basis o this. 25.00 a months is sugested but you could do more or none at all. It is a public school. They moms are there in full force working,cleaning directing and organizing galas and fundraisers. It is really awesome. check the LAUSD website- you can see the scores.
I know that Lanai rd school is very dersireable in ENcino but that neighborhood is only million dollar plus homes so I don't know if that's a option for you.
post #15 of 74
Thread Starter 
Calabassas is not an option for us as we just moved from Woodland Hills and DH isn't into it. Also, these schools, as far as I know are very test/grade oriented.

"check the LAUSD website- you can see the scores." I really am not encouraged by high scores. Often they mean teaching to the test and a ton of homework and pressure. It's just not what i'm into personally. I want a progressive, broadminded approach that encourages kids to challenge, be resourceful and creative, to employ many methods of learning and to have just enough structure so that they can perform their own personal best under any circumstances. But, "personal" best is so individual, it's hard for me to believe a public school can accomadate the kids' diverse needs while making sure they get the best scores.

Please, correct me if I'm wrong.

Parent involvement is essential but many parents are extremely nuertoic about test scores and grades and being the best. I hope I don't seem judgemental it's just what I've perceived when parents brag about how their kids school is the "best", they're usually talking about assessment test scores.
post #16 of 74
Thread Starter 
Oh, we're going to check out Community Magent School in Brentwood but there are 1200 applicants for 60 spaces...
post #17 of 74
I understand the teaching to the test concept as being undesireable. However I do see some value in a public schools test scores. We have to face it, we are in California in one of the worst school districts in the country. I have to compare and contrast using something other than my kid as a guinea pig, yk?
for example My mother works in South central- a LAUSD public school. she is a EXCELLENT teacher. However her kids reading scores are horrific. They vast majority of chldren are 2 if not 3 years behind their peers. why? B/c Her 3rd graders cannot read/ comprehend. She is teaching them the alphabet and phonics. Only a handful of her kids have been in the U.S. over a year. Many are totally new to the country and their parents are not litterate in English, hence homework help is difficult. If I was considering that particular school, I'd like to know that my child would be in a class that is still focusing on understanding the alphabet. I know from teaching myself (ECE) that it is very difficult to individualize for 20-30 kids. That's why I think homeschool is so beneficial but I'd pull my hair out if I didn't have a break, I think.
I applied for UES. We'll see what happens.
post #18 of 74
Oh I think Parent involvement is not the BEST for test scores. I think it demonstrates the level of commitment that parents have in their child's education. A school is a extended family of sorts and a real community effort. I want my child in a community of parents that give a rat's butt.
post #19 of 74
I live in Burbank, so it takes about 15 minutes just to get to Beverly Glen, but with morning traffic it would take longer. Like I said, I went to UCLA and I actually delivered my two girls at UCLA medical center (can you tell I like UCLA?) so I know that it does take quite a long time to get there in the morning. At 10am to about 3pm it only takes a 1/2 hour, but any other time and it's double that. I usually get there via Coldwater Cyn.

I checked out the Odyssey school website awhile ago, and something turned me off of that school. I think it had to do with homework, I'm pretty anti-homework. I think doing projects is great, but homework I'm not into.
post #20 of 74
hi mamas. hope ya dont mind if i jump in here

my dd goes to kindergarten at www.oceancharterschool.org and we love it! It's curriculum is based on Waldorf methods. It is a LAUSD charter school located on the Westside. This is the schools first year in operation but Im pleased thus far. There is heavy parent involvement which I love and it's such a sweet nurturing enviorment. check it out!
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