Elementary Issues

We’ll explore teaching methods, admissions processes and resources relevant to private elementary schools. Learn the difference between Montessori and Waldorf approaches. Get great tips on choosing an elementary school. And find tips and resources to aid you in the admissions process.
View the most popular articles in Elementary Issues:
You and I have to keep certain records safe yet available for easy reference. Important papers such as tax returns, wills, deeds, titles, diplomas and certificates prove ownership and achievement. You probably do not have to refer to them frequently. But you know where to find them when you need them.
 
The same thing applies to your child's records. Here's how to organize your child's important papers so that you won't be missing the documentation you will need to support her application to nursery school, primary school, high school and college.
 
Medical and Health Records
Keep records of all immunizations, test results and prescriptions. Why? Because you will be required to provide proof of immunizations as part of your child's medical record when you apply to private school at any level. Schools need to know about allergies your child has so that they know what action to take if and when she has an allergic reaction to something. Ditto with any medications which your child takes. If medications must be administered at school, the school will have protocols in place to take care of that.
 
What's the best way to keep records?  You can keep them online. This method allows you access to important medical information from anywhere. Scan documents and upload them. You can maintain paper files. 
 
Tip: keep valuable original documents in a fireproof safe at home or in your safety deposit box . . .read more
For many reasons it can be more difficult to get your child into a preschool or kindergarten than into a prep school. Especially if you live in a major city like New York or Chicago. Read The Truth About Preschool Admissions by Jacoba Urist in The Huffington Post to get an idea of what you are up against. Getting your child into preschool is not quite the same as walking into Bergdorf's and purchasing an expensive item of apparel. Your money and your accomplishments take a back seat to your child and her abilities and accomplishments. Preschools look at your child first. Then they will give you the once over.
 
If you live in an area where places in the local preschools are not as difficult to come by, count your lucky stars. In any case here's an overview of the process.
 
Getting Started
 
Much depends on the area in which you live. Major metropolitan areas seem to have the fewest preschool places. How do you make sure your child will get into a school? You start the process as soon as you can and you go through the admissions process at at least three schools, five if you can manage it. In those highly competitive markets getting into a preschool, any preschool is almost as dicey as drawing lots. So cover your bases by applying to more than one . . .read more
As you begin to prepare your middle schooler for the prep school admissions process, be sure to take advantage of the long summer vacation. It offers the time you need to do several things including remediating learning gaps, taking enrichment course and travel, and, of course, reading.

For remediating learning gaps
Your child may have straight A's in English but struggle to achieve a B in Math. While one or two B's won't be a deal breaker at some schools, it won't help if your child is applying to very competitive schools. What to do? As soon as you discover that she has a problem with a core subject like mathematics or reading, do something about it. Tailor the solution to the situation. If a little extra help at her present school is all that is necessary, then go that route. If more drastic measures are required, then hire a tutor. We did that one summer, and it made all the difference in our daughter's comfort level with mathematics.

Children learn in different ways. So, be sure to observe how your child is being taught. That will guide you on what solution to seek. It's very important not to make your child feel like she is being punished or that she is a failure. Instead, you need to explain that core subjects are taught over many years. . . .read more
This is a companion article to Schools for Gifted Children. There are a host of resources available to you on the Internet to help inform you about gifted children and how to educate them. As you sift through all this information, remember that your child is unique.

Because you are his parent, you must follow your own instincts about how to nurture and educate him. It is entirely possible that no one program or school setting will satisfy his needs and requirements. If you approach educating your gifted child as your responsibility and not somebody else's responsibility, then you will take ownership of your child's education. At that point schools and enrichment programs are adjuncts to what you are providing.

Parenting a gifted child is an enormous responsibility. As the authors of Helping Gifted Children Soar state so succinctly:  "Parenting a gifted child is like living in a theme park full of thrill rides..."

National Association For Gifted Children
This umbrella organization offers a vast array of resources and information. If you are looking for enrichment programs for vacations and breaks in the school year, check out their Resources Directory.

IQ Tests and Evaluations

 

As you explore your elementary school options, take time to find out about Waldorf education. Waldorf schools, or Steiner schools as they are often called, had their genesis in the writings and philosophy of Austrian philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). To put Steiner into some sort of context, think of him as northern Europe's equivalent of Dr. Maria Montessori.
 
These two remarkable people shared something in common which would ultimately lead to the establishment of educational movements based on their philosophies and approaches: namely that children from the less-privileged stratae of society were capable of achieving the same levels of academic accomplishment as children from more privileged homes. The key to success was their approach to teaching children as well as their insistence that the traditional ways of educating children not be used. In addition both Montessori and Steiner insisted on complete control of their schools. No state or local government interference would be tolerated.
 

Maria Montessori established her school in the poorest neighborhood of Rome because she was convinced that every child, no matter what his social circumstances, was capable of learning. Dr. Montessori carefully observed the children in her school and recorded the results of her experiment. 
 

Rudolf Steiner like Dr. Montessori earned a doctoral degree. Steiner earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Rostock in 1891. [Source: Wikipedia.org] He established his first school . . .read more
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