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WWYD - Private RE school, parents clueless

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I always knew if our DD's were to go to an institutionalised school that it would a RE school. Years ago I joined a RE mailing list for ideas on incorporating it into our home and through there found out that one of our local private schools is an RE school. I was pretty excited because it also happens to be an all-girls school (something else I'd want) and I went and toured it. The school is beautiful, about perfect actually for what I'd have in my mind if I weren't to homeschool. I spoke at length with the adminissions director as we walked around the school and we talked all about RE and Waldorf (she didn't know there was a Waldorf school in town) and how they incorporate the RE concepts even through elementary school. I was so excited to have discovered this school is a Reggio one. She was utterly surprised I knew what RE was. She says she's only had a couple other parents come through who were familair with it where she didn't have to explain why the rooms were setup the way they were or how they managed to 'teach' children. I imagine most parents want to send their kids there because it is all-girls and posh. After she and I excitedely chatted about Reggio I got to wondering what kind of impact it can have on the school when most parents aren't familiar with it and most likely just sending their kids there so they can say they go there.

While I want our DD's to have the experience of both an RE school and a single sex environment I'm put off by the social impacts of the environment itself; being wealthy and uninformed on the education system. If our DD doesn't go here we will homeschool her, but I'm concerned over these issues. We have another meeting with the director toward the end of the month where I intend to ask about these kind of things. Anyone have any thoughts or experiences you can share?

I love this school and honeslty believe they can teach our children more then I can, but I also wonder what we could do with that money if we were to even have half of it to dedicate toward HS'ing.
post #2 of 10
Hi Xaloxe. The school sounds like a really neat place. I do not have access to a RE school, but I've heard wonderful things about it. In your post I was trying to discern what really bothered you about it. Is there a somewhat elite quality to it that bothers you, or that it draws kids away from other schools? Or is it that most people don't choose it FOR it's philosophy, but only because it's beautiful? That part wasn't clear to me.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Sorry for being unclear, I was wondering if I was stating my issues pointedly. The school is wonderful! My concern is that it is elite, not only is it elite, but that people seem to be sending their children just because it's elite and they hear it is a great school offering a wonderful education but they know nothing of the education system itself. I'm concerned what kind of rollover this can have on the children and the system itself.
I sat there during an open house and the heads of school were talking about the education system being RE based and none of the parents had a clue what Reggio was or why it would be good (not really a problem, we all were introduced to it some fashion). But they seemed frightened by it and I was talking to some of them about the things I loved about this school and how they've taken the RE approach into elementary education: letting the children help dictate the study and be active participants in creating the curriculum for their class, no grades at all, big emphasis on art and music etc. and the parents not only had no idea the school did this but seemed unhappy about it.
I LOVE the school, sure I will have concerns about it but if our children are to go to school this is where I want them to go. But, if most of the other parents are sending their kids there just so people can see them in their uniform around town and just to 'say' they go there I think that says a lot about the student environment. I guess I already have concerns because it costs a lot of money and by that factor alone is elite (skewed sense of wealth for our girls, we'll have to make lots of accomadations for them to go there etc.). But, if parents don't even know why they are sending their children there I am more concerned. I realise I am being judgemental here and I don't think everyone takes that much of a proactive approach to their children's education, but, if one is going to spend that kind of money on a school and you are in there in a meeting while your child is being evaluated to go there I would think one would have researched more. I guess I was a little dissapointed to find out we had this great Reggio school in town and no one I've met who has kids there or is wanting to send their kids there even knows what Reggio is. I was hoping for a Reggio community, and I'm worried all I will get is a private school one.
post #4 of 10
To hear you describe it further it sounds as though you might have a really nice methodology for your children to learn, but not really a community of like-minded parents to plug into for you. My experience has been that parents need to feel connected to the school and other parents in a supportive way, and that this adds a lot to the whole experience for a family. This can be as true of public school as it is for a smaller specialized learning environment. I hear you worrying that you would not find other parents that you could relate to, and also that you might feel constantly misunderstood as one of "those parents" that send their children to the school just for the image. This sounds concerning enough to you that maybe you should look around at other options.

Also, has the school thought about doing any marketing to let the community know what they are "really" offering?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm honestly not concerned how I appear to other people. It doesn't matter to me in any way what people think my motivations are for sending our girls there.

I'm more concerned that I won't find a Reggio community but I am not sure how important that is since the school offers one to the children and that is more important then my finding my own community, KWIM? I am concerned about these other parents who aren't into it though, and who would like to see their children be given grades and have a more structured envornment and less of a democratically run one. In spite of not liking it will they still send their kids there and then try to change the system? I'd like to send my girls there for the education system and if the school is feeling pressure from parents to change it I worry how that could impact the class. Those are my worries.

I like to think that people who don't like the system won't send their kids there but there aren't many other options for all-girls schools (it's the only secular one available in our city). They don't need to advertise, they have very small class sizes and the school is well known within the community for being a single-sex environment and a really good private school. They turn people away every year for every class as there are always more applicants then seats available. They don't even advertise RE in their brochure or booklet, the focus is on the single-sex environment first.

The school itself is active in the RE community though. They do teacher swap programs with other schools in town and lots of community outreach that the parents may not be directly aware of in those regards. All their pre-K primary teachers have been to RE Italy and they do workshops for other local area teachers.

I guess I will just pose the question to the admissions director how parents who are unfamiliar with the RE approach react to it within the school. I don't know for how long the school has been Reggio, it's been within the last 15 years though. I just need to formulate some questions for them regarding this.

Just writing about it here has helped me work out my issues with it that will give me a good place to start when we go in to meet with the admissisions director again.
post #6 of 10
Good luck with your meeting! I wish some other RE parents would show up to the thread. It's not a highly visited subforum, but keep checking back!!
post #7 of 10
As a Reggio inspired teacher, I can tell you two things I have learned about parents. I also taught at a very exclusive, private school (it is the "It" school in the US right now for Reggio, the Italians visit every 6 weeks or so) where all the children were very wealthy and the parents often detached, even wth the huge amount of documentaion through out the school building and grounds. We were always offering little "getting to know Reggio Emilia" classes and almost no one came. Second, Reggio is hard to do without parent support. Connection to parents is a key piece. Parents who aren't on board or just don't understand are always taking up a large amount of the teacher's time asking questions about the learning, etc.

The school sound interesting to say the least. A single gender Reggio school is sort of an odd thing, gender and learning style is a big part of circ projections in Reggio Italy and Carlina was always trying to get me to do a gender study but since I only had 3 girld it was a little pointless. Also, the Italians think that using Reggio in the primary grades is just crazy! Primary school in Italy is teacher directed to the exstreme and the Italians like it that way! I would be all over it though! I know of a couple primary Reggio inspired school in the USA, two of my former co-workers moved to Boston to co-teach in a Reggio inspired 1st grade!
post #8 of 10
I think this is a problem in many private schools, not just RE (although RE is even less well known). Our montessori school is like this, sometimes - and the last one, definitely. Parents were really disappointed when their five year old didn't come out reading... and the teachers never promised or said they would, if they didn't want to. We toured and applied at another school (inquiry-based, as close to RE as we could get in our city) and I don't think parents there understood inquiry either.

That said, could you ask the admissions director if there are parents who "get it?" and if you could talk with them? Could you maybe help the school as an intermediary to inform parents more about RE? I find this to be true in Montessori as well - sometimes the language that's used is not our common vernacular today - and parents have a hard time grasping the underlying philosophies as a result.

And on the OTHER hand, I have found that it's difficult to fit into a setting in which children & parents are of a completely different (and homogenous) class than yourself. Does this school offer scholarships/tuition wavers? Our current school is OK, but the inquiry-based school we visited, we definitely felt a weird vibe as far as money issues go. We could not have attended without serious financial aid - but then what about all the "extras" that go on during the year (field trips, etc) - is this affordable? When the kids have playdates in McMansions, well - hmm, that's always a little uncomfortable at times. There would have been not so much in common for us with most families there, much less understanding the inquiry method. Despite financial aid! One person who worked there said that the girl competition was pretty intense over things like getting a gucci purse and they all had their own iPods. We're more of a consignment store family. So I think it's wise to keep an eye on the class/acquisitive/status symbol things at schools you're looking into...
post #9 of 10
I'm pretty sure i what school you're talking about. I think it's only the preschool that is reggio-ish and i thought this school as well known for it. There are several of us who would do the PS in a heartbeat if the tuition wasn't more than most folks' mortgages.

I am wanting my oldest dd to go to that school if she chooses to go to high school. Tuition is a killer, however. The Kindergarten alone is is nealrly 19 k last I checked.

I know it's $, but never think of the palce as posh. Maybe it's a different school.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
I know how the Italians feel about taking RE concepts into elementary and I actually found it kind of humerous. I'm really happy this school has done it though and it's the primary reason for us wanting to send our girls there. I'm not sure how a co-ed versus single-sex environment could impact the RE system though. The school evaluates the kids for only a hour but they do it to try to determine if within that hour they can see if children will thrive in the RE environment or not. I know people who have applied and their children were turned down and told their children weren't a fit at this time, "please try again next year". They told me they are looking primarily for those kids who won't flounder in an open class environment. Not sure how they can establish that in just an hour though. They used to have a co-ed pre-K program, but went single-sex long before they went RE.

I'm sure there are parents there who get Reggio, I just have to tap into them. I will just have to ask more pointed questions about how they handle things at our meeting the end of the month. We don't have many other options for school here so I really don't feel like we have a backup at all for elementary ed. (excluding publick school that is).

Classism is a big concern for us. I consider us well off and our DD's to be 'privledged' but I think that's pretty subjective. We do most of our shopping at consignment shops as well and our kids definitly don't get everything they want. But we don't want for necessities and can afford to buy organic on most things. I'm very concerned their concept of wealth would be highly misconstrued at this school. I'm not sure how to handle the 'McMansion' (I lol'd at this one ) issue honestly and the fact that a couple of the kids are dropped off in limos. It isn't very diverse either. All girls, by looks I'd guess about 90% caucasion. All concerns for us. But, when I look at our AP circle and playgroups through their and through our midwives it's 100% caucasion. The only diversity our kids get is in our neighboohood, but I digress.

I know they could teach our children better then I. They have lots more resources and knowledge then I do and that's hard for me to overcome. I lok at our public school systems or even some of the other 'good' private schools and I know I can do better then those. But this school, this one floored me when I toured it (twice now) and i had to acknowledge the differences.

So we have our hesitation. Add to that the seeming lack of understand parents have of the education system and I become more concerned. They do lots of scheduled activities involving parents (quarterly father-daughter breakfasts at school, annual father-daughter outings, parent helpers in class weekly etc.) but I also understand most of the mom's work out of home so I'm not sure how that all plays into it. I can't send my kids to a school that doesn't expect parent involvement as I would be that parent asking the teachers every day what my DD did that day and how she is doing. That's part of the reason I love reggio (ontop of it's how my dd learn).

The other thing I love about the school (and the play-based preschool she goes to now) is how they handle communication. Very gentle and they teach respectful communication in pre-k+. They try to ward off relational agression through teaching communication skills and emotional understanding which is something we do with DD. Something necessary for an all-girls environment in my book.

Thanks for your responses ladies. It's been interesting to read others experiences and get my ideas and thoughts out as we process this. It feels like a really big step, just considering it.
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