Play the Hand You Have Been Dealt

No, this is not an article about card games. But the reality is that getting your child into private school requires a similar mindset. You must play the hand which you have been dealt. The admissions staff will review the facts in your child's dossier. Not the "might have beens" or the "wish they were's". As you prepare your child's applications for private school, pay attention to the areas listed below. If you are just starting to think about private school as an option, then focus on these four areas of your child's profile with the goal of presenting her in the best possible light when it comes time apply to private school.
 
Academics
 
Since the school needs to know whether your child can do the academic work, it is very important that her academic transcripts and teacher recommendations address her mastery of core subjects such as English and mathematics. Transcripts, teacher recommendations and test scores ideally should indicate the same thing: that your child can handle the academic work at the schools to which you are applying. An occasional lower grade is OK as long as the transcripts and teacher comments indicate that the issue which caused the low grade in the first place has been dealt with and remediated.
 

 
Deficiencies? Less than stellar test scores? A C in math? That's why the interview is so important. The admissions staff will note your explanations on the file. They will take them into consideration. For example, let's . . .read more
If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting. The timeline for the process has some sections which are rather elastic. They can take a lot of time or can be foreshortened depending on your requirements. For example, if you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of school you want, you will save time. Ditto if you actually have identified a couple of specific schools. That being said, I do want you to be aware of at least five challenges which I have identified when choosing a private school for your child.
 
Let's look at five of the challenges facing you.
 
Choosing the right school
 
Choosing the right school i probably the most time-consuming challenge. It can be as easy as surfing the Web and identifying three to five schools right out of the gate. You will be able to take advantage of this shortcut when you have decided that your child will attend one of the local day schools in your community.
 
But if you are thinking about boarding school, the choices multiply almost exponentially. There are hundreds of schools to choose from. There are dozens of schools to consider seriously. So, how do you narrow the field in this instance? You do it by making a list of your requirements and systematically checking the boxes until you have a list of schools which matches or come close to matching your specific requirements.
 
If you . . .read more
I asked Vicki Larson to give us some detailed answers to my questions about Waldorf education. (I must disclaim that my eldest daughter attended a Waldorf school.) Vicki is Director of Communications and Marketing at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, New York. She is also the schools Alumni Relations Coordinator and Diversity Committee Chair. ~ Rob Kennedy

 

What sets a Waldorf school apart from public schools? Is it curriculum? Teaching style? Philosophy? Other characteristics?

 

 

The Waldorf curriculum differs from a public school or other independent school curriculum in philosophy, teaching style, and the kinds of relationships the students develop with their teachers and classmates. 

 

 
Philosophy: Uniquely designed to meet children at each developmental stage, Waldorf Education is based on child study and observation. Our academically challenging, arts-infused curriculum includes block-style learning and develops adults who have the opportunity to reach their full potential, excelling in many areas, unafraid to take risks as they work to solve problems. In our school environment, academic standards are rigorous and stress is minimized by strong relationships, ample artistic and physical activity, and opportunities for joy and discovery. Media and technology are managed very differently than in many other schools: they are introduced in an age-appropriate way and are understood and used as tools rather than ends unto themselves. Waldorf Schools do not "teach to the test" (as independent schools, we are often exempt from state testing, though most Waldorf students take the SAT and other standardized tests) and we prioritize experiential learning. We also believe that natural materials . . .read more
Editorial
 
Yet another horrific shooting. More innocent lives snuffed out. Twenty children sitting in their safe, familiar classroom. Gone.
 
These shootings have become an all too familiar story. I now think twice about visiting public places. I still go. But I am wary. The same defensive mechanism which kicks in when I drive is now present in my thinking. But let me back up a bit and explain my aversion to violence.

 

As a classicist I am quite familiar with our love of violent spectacles. Chariot races, gladiator contests and mock naval wars are all, as far as I am concerned, precursors of 21st century video games and movies. That does not mean that I like them. Not one bit.

 

 
My first taste of real violence was during the terrorist activities which took place in the Province of Quebec back in the 60s when I was a teen. I knew nothing of violence prior to that, having been raised in a leafy green English neighborhood in Montreal called Westmount. My family had lived there for several generations. But the French Canadians were tired of feeling oppressed and shackled economically and socially by a minority population, i.e., les Anglais. They started blowing things up. I was out for a walk one day heading north on Roslyn Avenue. I heard what I to this day recall as a thump. Not a bang. A thump. As I turned the corner onto Westmount Avenue I saw a body lying on the pavement. It was a letter carrier. . . .read more
Every application to private school goes through a thorough review process. The more competitive the school, the more exhaustive that review process becomes. So, the question we parents want answered is simply: how do we make sure our child's application gets to that final, all important "Approved" stack of folders. Put another way, how do we ensure that our child's application has legs? (Having legs is an expression which speaks to the endurance of whatever is supposed to have legs.) With respect to admissions applications the idea is to advance your child's application from one stage of the process to the next until finally you achieve a positive outcome.
 
Here is what to do to ensure that your child's private school application has legs.
 
All required documentation has been submitted.
 
This sounds so simple, yet you would be amazed at how often an admissions application can founder right at the beginning of the review process. The staffer who reviews your child's application has a checklist of the required materials which must be in the folder. If something is missing, the folder goes into a stack for applications which have missing documents. It cannot normally advance to the next stage of the process for the reading and critical assessment of all those materials unless it is complete. 

Ann Dolin sheds some light on the private school admissions process in this short video.
 
 
Note: each school has its own admissions procedures and protocols. The more competition there is for places . . .read more
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