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:
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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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
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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
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.
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? It's a tough call, isn't it?

It is a catch 22 situation. Primary school lays the foundation for solid achievement in high school, while high school lays the foundation for solid achievement in college. If either foundation is constructed with less than the best materials, the structure built on that foundation will have deficiencies.

Primary grades build the foundation.  Since most parents can more easily monitor and help with learning in the primary grades, sending your child to a good public school for the early years makes sense. The important thing any parent must do for her young child is to engage it in a wide variety of stimulating activities, such as reading, solving puzzles, making music, art and so on. Limiting television and video game time and teaching your child to entertain itself with non-electronic activities is a good thing. The problem is that many parents feel they have to sacrifice quality time with their children for their careers and jobs. That is a very tough call. If you can afford to stay home with your child while it is young, you can shape that young mind yourself instead of leaving that critical task to others. After all, you are particular about what food your child eats. Shouldn't you be just as particular about what ideas and facts your child's
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