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:
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5 Facts About Montessori Schools
Here are five facts about Montessori schools to bear in mind when exploring preschools and primary schools for your child.
What is Montessori?
Montessori is the name of a very popular approach for teaching preschool and primary age children. We'll explore the reasons for its popularity later. First let's examine how Montessori got its start. As with many great movements, Montessori began with an idea and some theories put forth by one of those visionaries who dot the pages of history.

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was born and raised in Italy. She came from a family of modest means. Her father did not approve of his daughter's desire to be educated much less to become a doctor. Women didn't do such things back at the end of the 19th century. Despite the many obstacles which stood in her way Maria actually earned her degree from the University of Rome in 1896. Her speciality was pediatric medicine. 
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

While Dr. Montessori was working towards her degree, she had studied and worked with mentally disabled children. She got her chance to put her experience, observations and theories into practice when she was invited to open a school for the children of working class families in a low income housing project in Rome in 1907. The first Casa dei Bambini was a traditional school with desks and chalkboards and all the other accoutrements of classrooms of the day. Dr. Montessori herself did not teach. She left that task to
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Choosing an Elementary School
You would think it would be easier to get your child into an elementary or primary school than into a prep school. But in fact it is almost as complicated.
You would think it would be easier to get your child into an elementary or primary school than a prep or high school, right? Not exactly. Depending on where you live, demand for places in elementary schools may be greater than the supply. The other issue frequently encountered is the style of teaching. With all of these things and more in mind, let's explore what's involved in getting your child into private elementary school.
Supply and demand
Places for the best elementary schools are always going to be in demand. What do I mean by best schools? Mostly 'best' is a subjective description because there are no rankins of private schools available. Much of a school's reputation rests on things like its campus and facilities as well as the quality of the curriculum and teaching. It is amazing how word gets around about such things but it does. 
If you live in cities like New York, Boston or Washington, you literally will need to put your child's name on the list shortly after birth in order to even get an interview at some of the most sought after schools. Well, I am exaggerating a tad. Perhaps not that soon, but don't delay calling the schools and finding out their admissions procedures. Do it well in advance. Two years ahead of time is not too early.
Determine the kind of school you want
This part of the process is the toughest. It is also probably the most important. It is tough because you will have many
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The Scramble for Places in Primary Schools
It is almost as tough getting your child into a good Manhattan or Bay area primary school as it is getting them into an Ivy League university.
If you live in New York or San Francisco, you probably know how difficult it is to get your toddler into a good primary school. You almost have to register for a place before she is born. The problem is that places in most major metropolitan area primary schools are extremely limited. Consequently parents will do almost anything to get their children into a desirable school. How do you position your child so that she stands the best chance of getting in?

1. Make sure your child attends a good preschool.

It helps to have your child attend a well-regarded preschool.The network of Pre-K school directors and primary school directors is active in any city. These professionals know each other. They also know each other's work and the standards achieved at each school. So, if a primary school director calls your pre-school director and asks about your child, your director's comments will count for a whole lot.

2. Be involved.

If you are involved in school activities and support the school in a positive manner,it won't hurt your child's chances. Schools look at parents as much as they look at your child. If you offer to chaperone a field trip, help throw a party for your child's class or raise money to buy new playground equipment, you will ingratiate yourself with the school. actions always speak louder than words.

3. Don't get a reputation as a difficult parent.

If you have developed a . . .read more
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Charter Schools and Vouchers
Are charter schools private schools? What do vouchers have to do with private schools? Some answers here.
Charter Schools
Is a charter school a private school? No. It is a public K-12 school. It receives public funding but operates without some of the arcane regulations most public schools must abide by. Read 10 Things To Know About Charter Schools. Charter schools can be found in most major urban areas. Some of them are well-run and funded adequately. Others have been a financial disaster. Charter schools tend to be small and have small class sizes.

The idea behind vouchers is to give lower income families an alternative to poorly performing public schools. Vouchers are a lightning rod in educational circles. Teachers unions universally despise them. Politicians avoid them. In places where voucher programs have taken hold, such as in Milwaukee and Cleveland, the response has been positive. The points of contention have to do with the use of public funds to pay parochial school fees and the diversion of public funds from public schools.

What vouchers are really all about is an attempt to provide some kind of school choice for parents with children in poorly performing public schools.
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Should You Send Your Child to Private Primary or High School?
If you had to choose when to send your child to private school, would you send her to private school for the primary grades or high school?

f you had to choose when to send your child to private school, would you send her to private school for the primary grades or high school? It's a tough call, isn't it?  The expense alone is a major consideration for many parents. Another consideration is the market where you live. Do you have several private school options to choose from? Using the search tool on Private School Review, I asked it to list schools within 25 miles of my zip code in Raleigh. There were 119 schools to choose from. Obviously not all would meet my requirements, but at least I had some material to work with. Investigate your local private school options first and see how those schools meet your requirements.

Could you send your child to primary school through 12th grade in the same school? Or would you have to consider individual schools for the primary, middle and high school grades? Would it make sense to send your child to public school for primary grades and then consider private school for the high school years? 

Frankly, I always feel that the high school years are where things can go off the rails. I wanted my children in a well-disciplined, serious learning environment. That's what I got when I sent my two daughters off to boarding school. They both attended private pre-schools. One attended a private primary school and the other went to a very fine, very small K-6 elementary school which happened to be right across the street

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