Education information for parents of elementary-age children in L.A.

Elementary School

seth fishman

Seth Fishman: A Book for Your Kids’ Million-and-One Questions

You’ve been there – stuck in rush-hour traffic, your teeth clenching, your fingers gripping the wheel – while your precious little one pings you with a million questions from the car seat. “Mommy, why is the sky blue? How many stars are there in the whole wide world? How many people? How many suns? How many cars?” Disgusted with my terse “I-don’t-know” answers once, my son expelled an exaggerated sigh...

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growth mindset for kids

Learning to Embrace Failure

I met Andrés in the fall of 2015. He was a third grader who struggled academically; I was an enthusiastic language arts tutor who hoped to help. I came to learn that the pathway to his growth and success required helping Andrés look failure in the face without fear. Andrés was bright and talkative with a jovial personality, but his self-esteem had plummeted the prior year alongside his falling grades....

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tutor in los angeles

Time for a Tutor?

It’s tough to watch your child struggle in school. As parents, we instinctively step in and try to offer some extra help. Sometimes, that’s enough. But as curriculum and methodologies continually change, you may feel challenged, too. And, let’s face it, not every parent is great at homework help. Perhaps it’s time t o consider a tutor. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, tutoring may be just what your child needs...

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STEM in Los Angeles

The Many Faces of STEM

STEM programs provide interdisciplinary, inquiry-based and real-world problem-based challenges. They use an integrated approach to teach students about science, technology, engineering and math. Here are some of the many fun hands-on learning opportunities in the L.A. area that can get your kids excited about STEM. One was even founded by a local teenager. Transformation Through Robotics Ben Indeglia, who went to high school at New Roads School in Santa Monica,...

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choosing arts education

The Arts Matter – But What’s Best for Your Child?

We may not always practice what we preach, but in general our culture agrees that the arts are important, and that kids should be exposed to them at an early age. In fact, the California Education Code requires arts education in public schools, but with tight school budgets and other education priorities, it can be tough deciphering what type of arts education your kids should receive at each grade level....

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school safety

Blue-Ribbon Panel Outlines Ways to Keep Students Safe

After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the cell phones and emails of LAUSD parents were buzzing with messages from the second largest school district in the country – messages that attempted to assure us that our children were safe and that the district was doing everything it could to improve safety measures. To bolster those efforts, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer assembled...

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children's books

Kid Lit’s Secret Sauce

Think about the picture books that were your favorites as a kid. Some that probably made the list – such as “Corduroy” by Don Freeman, “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak – are still popular today. The continued success of these books is not just a matter of nostalgia or luck. These books have been cooked with a secret sauce,...

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Losing a Tooth and a Tradition?

My Culver City-based dentist, Janet Wong, told me something in the middle of my last cleaning that surprised me. “I use the same amount of caution talking with my littlest clients about the tooth fairy,” she said, “as I do when I am on the subject of Santa Claus.” “But why?” I mumbled out over the suction hose. “Well, did you know many kids on the planet believe in a...

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school shootings

Stopping School Shootings

Let’s begin our look at this scary topic with two solid – possibly calming – facts: School shootings are a rare occurrence in the U.S., and there has not been a mass shooting at an L.A.-area school in recorded memory. Mass school shootings – beginning with Columbine in 1999 through Sandy Hook in 2012, up to February’s shooting in Parkland, Fla. – have spurred the notion that school shootings are...

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los angeles schools

A School for Every Learner

Living in the L.A. area is not without its challenges. However, when it comes to our children’s education, we’re fortunate to have a diverse array of options. Parents here choose a nontraditional approach to education for myriad reasons, from dissatisfaction with traditional schools (public and private), to a desire for a more tailored approach for gifted or socially anxious children. It’s also not uncommon for children involved in the arts...

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Compton/Woodley Los Angeles Enrichment Program Teaches Kids to Fly

On a recent chilly and rainy day at Compton/Woodley Airport, clusters of middle and high school students buzzed around the facility. Some hung out inside the airport’s Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM), staffing the front desk, lounging on couches or working on computers inside the experiential classroom. Others braved the weather and ventured outside. A few of them settled with ease inside the cockpits of single-engine airplanes. The tweens and teens...

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Junior White Coat Ceremony Graduates 159 Local Students

The Saturday Science Academy II at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine (SSA-II), a STEM program for youth from underserved communities in L.A., graduated 159 K-12 students at its 18th annual “Junior White Coat Ceremony” on Jan. 20. SSA-II is a year-round program with three eight-week sessions during the school year and a four-week summer course. The program is open to all students, but ultimately seeks to inspire students of color...

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Tackling Four Common Misconceptions About Dyslexia

While research over the years has continued to yield much information about dyslexia, the learning disorder is still easily misunderstood. These misconceptions can lead to ineffective approaches to learning, doing a disservice to those with the disorder. Debunking some of the myths surrounding dyslexia can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved. Here are the facts about four of the most common misconceptions about dyslexia: Misconception: Dyslexia is a visual...

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Los Angeles public schools

Navigating Los Angeles Public Schools and Beyond

Deciding where to send your child to school can be a daunting task. Parents need to think carefully about what is most important to them when it comes to their child’s education. Now, parents have a convenient way to access detailed information on public schools across the state. In March 2017, the California Department of Education piloted a new website with measurements to show how public schools are performing on...

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nontraditional education

What If? Taking A Second Look at Nontraditional Education

As kids settle into the new school year, education options continue to evolve. Students in and around L.A. have many choices, from online schools and classes to homeschooling programs and traditional schools that offer online components. Which of these might be right for your family? Which students benefit most from nontraditional education, and what challenges should families be ready to tackle? Here are some of the basics. Reasons To Go...

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stem in los angeles schools

Adding an M to STEM in Los Angeles Schools

Just who’s putting all this steam into STEM in Los Angeles Schools? Take a straw poll, and you’ll hear credit for the classroom technology boom assigned to a variety of individuals. Topping the list are the scores of ever-inventive teachers, principals and heads of school who are willing to experiment and generous parents and donors offering their time, expertise and funds. Finally, there are the students who – with their...

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los angeles programs for kids

Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders

A lifetime ago, my incoming junior-year class was required to participate in a “leadership day” at a nearby ropes course. It was my every nightmare come true: uncharted physical activities and interacting with high-school peers who had decided long ago I wasn’t up to par. I successfully crossed a tightrope and engaged in a sharing circle without stuttering, but the memory that most stands out was falling off a swing...

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Our Breakfast-to-Bedtime Back to School Guide

Remember last year’s back to school photo? The kids wore big, happy grins and fresh haircuts. Inside their shiny new backpacks awaited orderly pencil cases and a homemade-with-love lunch filled with summer veggies and nothing processed. Cut to the second week: Running to the car five minutes late, the day’s completed homework forgotten on the kitchen table and cranky parents playing Rock-paper-scissors to see who has to leave work early...

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Bridging the Summer Gap to Prevent Learning Loss

Now that the academic school year has ended, students are ready to enjoy summer and all of the fun that it promises. Beach days, family vacations, swimming pools and waterparks; activities that bring fun memories, social time with friends and a highly anticipated break from the classroom. Unfortunately, with all of the fun that summer has to offer, the gap between the end of one academic year and the beginning...

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home learning activities for kids

Digital vs. Analog: At-Home Learning Activities for Kids

Technology gives parents more ways than ever to provide a rich and engaging home learning environment for their kids. But how much is too much? Is it better to go “old-school” with plenty of books, journals to fill, and hands-on activities? Or is it best to be future-focused and provide the latest tablet computer and learning programs? Staying Hands-On Patti Clark, vice president of product development at Lakeshore, advocates for...

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Four Reasons Educating Students With Learning Differences Matters

Have you heard the buzz about the on-the-job construction worker from Toronto secretly recorded while dancing to a hit song by Ariana Grande? The video went viral, boasting tens of millions of viewers, after his wife posted it on social media. Although this was a humorous and entertaining break from the onslaught of political banter we have been overwhelmed with, I long for a world where life-impacting concerns, significant to...

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A Personal Account of an IEP Journey

Lia Martin’s 9-year-old son, Taylor, is a gifted artist – but he also has ADHD. That means, as the former sitcom writer and TV executive puts it, he didn’t enter the classroom seamlessly. Her son’s learning difference eventually led Martin to seek out an IEP (individual education plan), and that journey also was not seamless. It started with her feeling of failure the first time she heard Taylor, then a...

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education

Helping Quiet Students Soar

Support at home and in the classroom can help these thoughtful kids find their voice. In a loud world dominated by those who speak up, quiet kids can get overlooked, especially in school. These children are often highly observant and great listeners, which helps them collect information so they can succeed when it comes to written work and test taking. They often struggle, however, when group projects, presentations and class...

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los angeles schools

A Peek Through the Portal

How online monitoring tools are impacting education and families Remember how your kids sometimes forgot to give you the Friday folder from school or pulled it out on Monday morning for a quick signature before you’d even looked at it? Or was that just my kid? Well, there’s a new Friday folder in town, the online student-parent portal, and families can access it any time they like. Do parents like...

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school news

LAUSD Magnets: Getting to the Points

If you live in the district, the right strategy could get your child into an excellent school. When my oldest child was 3, the director of our Montessori preschool invited us, with all the other preschool parents, to a symposium she was offering on how to navigate the Los Angeles Unified School District system known as e-Choices. I thought it was probably a little too soon to be worried about...

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los angeles schools

Perks for Private-School Parents

Local campuses offer a host of classes and activities for moms and dads of students. Cara Lisco doesn’t expect to become a top-notch knitter or dancer by taking weekly classes at Highland Hall Waldorf School, where her three children are students. The knitting and eurythmy classes are among enrichment activities offered to parents of students who attend the Northridge private school. They are designed to help parents like Lisco have...

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Choosing a School: It’s In the Details

Most schools offer a good education. Look beyond that to find a fit for your child.  The days of sending kids to an assigned neighborhood school, no questions asked, are gone. Today, Southern California families are fortunate to have many great schools to choose from, giving us the opportunity to find just the right school for our kids. But after the websites are combed, tours are taken and the big...

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Finding the Successes in Your Child’s School Year

You open the report card and there among the As and Bs is a big fat C in math. If only, you think, we’d spent more time this year with flash cards or graphing calculators. But hold off before you cancel adventure camp and sign up for Kumon. Because when it comes to assessing your child’s school year, grades are just a starting point. In fact, an obsession with grades...

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education - Greg Whiteley

Filmmaker Greg Whiteley: Focusing on the Future of Education

When filmmaker Greg Whiteley became a parent 14 years ago, he developed a “full-time preoccupation” with finding the best schools for his children. In his new documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, Whiteley examines our current education system through the eyes of students, parents, teachers and administrators. Documenting the experiences of students at the innovative High Tech High, a San Diego public charter school focused on project-based and collaborative learning, the...

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BARK Dogs Help Children Fetch New Reading Skills

Between 1997 and 2006, Long Beach resident Josie Gavieres raised six puppies to work with Guide Dogs for the Blind. The last dog she raised, Groucho, had an especially sweet temperament, but didn’t qualify for the program. Gavieres decided to take advantage of his gentle disposition in a different way. “I had always wanted to be a first-grade teacher because I think reading is so important,” Gavieres says, “so I...

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Handling School Admissions Interviews Like a Boss

While private schools vary in curriculum, education philosophy and how many students they accept each term, they all share the same goal when interviewing prospective students. They use the interview to make sure the student is going to fit in well at the school, enjoy themselves and be able to thrive in the academic environment. “We are looking for families that would be a good fit for the mission of...

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Tackling Homework Procrastination

Do you often feel that you need to push your child to get started with homework? Are you finding that your child forgets to record certain tasks, books or schoolwork? Some schools start homework as early as prekindergarten, so our children are being challenged at an early age to learn responsibility, organization and multitasking. As children move to higher grade levels, they often find it more difficult to multitask multiple...

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What You’ll Learn At School Open House

While searching for private schools for their son Kevin (now in college), Tony and Kristy Adler of Bel Air eagerly attended several open houses at L.A. schools with him. They quickly learned the do’s and don’ts of open-house protocol. “We were doomed at one school from the beginning when I grabbed our son’s name badge. Apparently, that was one of the tests, to see if a child recognizes his own...

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STEM Learning In L.A.

People can’t seem to talk about education any more without using four letters: S-T-E-M. STEM sounds much more exciting than when we used to call it simply “science,” “math” or “computer class.” And STEM topics are now being touted not just as school subjects for aspiring techies, but as life skills vital for all kids. “At its essence, science is a way for human beings to understand the world,” says...

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Stress Busters for Students

There’s no question that academic expectations for students have become more rigorous in recent years. You may have heard that traditional kindergarten at most public schools is now academically equivalent to what first grade was a generation ago. And it doesn’t get any easier from there. While many students enjoy and rise to the challenge of mastering new subjects, the steadily increasing load of schoolwork, tests and homework can take...

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Helping Your ‘Average’ Student Thrive

Somewhere between the worlds of the trilingual 5-year-old concert pianist and the student struggling through remedial classes lies another student. This is the average student, the one who neither breaks scholastic records nor lives on the edge of failure. He can easily be overlooked by teachers because he’s not putting cherry bombs in toilets, nor is he solving the world’s food-shortage problems. He is just getting by. That’s not good...

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An Online School Snapshot

You can find out many of the most important things about a school with a simple visit. You can meet the principal and teachers, have a look at the campus facilities, learn about the schedule, sports teams and enrichment programs. But a new online tool from the California Department of Education offers a window into another layer of information about L.A. schools. It has a cumbersome name – The California...

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How Common Core Looks In the Classroom

In a fifth-grade classroom in Pasadena, students receive language arts and math instruction as part of a well-researched, artifact-driven social-studies lesson on Jamestown, VA. In the San Fernando Valley, third graders apply their math skills to figure out how many medium pizzas it would take to feed 72 people. And over in Santa Monica, fourth-grade students are taught to answer reading comprehension questions based solely on the evidence presented in...

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How Nontraditional Schools Inspire Students

If you walk into any classroom, you’re likely to find quiet students who turn in their work on time, but don’t necessarily challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone. You’ll also find bright students who become easily bored and distracted by repetitive worksheets and tests. Then there are those whose sketches in the margins of their notebooks reveal amazing artistic talent, but who might be perceived as lazy or unmotivated students....

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The Parents’ Voice: Key To School Success

When my husband and I bought our house in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in the west San Fernando Valley, we assumed our kids would eventually attend the local elementary school just down the street. But our tour a year before our oldest daughter was about to enter kindergarten left us feeling disappointed and panicked. Test scores were below average, enrichment programs such as art and music were not offered, there...

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5 Tips To Get You More Involved In Your Child’s School

When the school year began and you buttoned up your precious ones against the fall chill, kissed their cheeks and sent them off with the latest back-to-school goodies, did you make a silent vow that, this year, you would get more involved in your child’s school? More than likely, you’re next thought was, “What time is it?” Most days, after rushing to work and then home again, you can barely...

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Finding a Private School With the Right Vibe

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was one of those mothers. You know the type, reading all the pregnancy books, taking the birth-education classes, sharing pregnancy symptoms with the other mommies-to-be during prenatal yoga class. Once my son was born, I continued on that path. I breastfed. I made his baby food. I enrolled us in a well-rounded roster of baby classes because I had read how...

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Three Ways to Help Kids With Test Anxiety

The second half of the school year will soon begin, and for many parents that means a return to tests and the fear they instill in our children. Often times test anxiety stems from one of two areas: fear of embarrassment and fear of failure. The main idea is to look to the root of the problem. Use positive parenting and these three tips to help your child lower their...

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The Back-To-School Boogie: Tips For Teachers And Parents For A Smooth Transition

Regardless of whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a student, August marks the turn of the tides when school supplies, planners, and new-school-year jitters take center stage. It is an exciting time for some, and a dreadful time for others. Each parent, child and teacher is unique and has his or her own feelings about school starting, and that is perfectly natural and normal. Here are some key...

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Step Up Summer Learning! Seven Simple Ways to Help Prevent Summer Slide

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials As the clock slowly ticks down to the final ring of the school bell, kids everywhere dream of those long days of summer filled with endless playtime and carefree fun. However, while this break from the classroom gives kids the chance to relax and revive before the next school year, it can also have another, unintended effect, called...

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