Education information for parents of L.A. kids in junior high and high school.

Junior High and High School

Book Illuminates Undocumented Family’s Quest for the ‘American Dream’

When people read headlines about undocumented students or the Dream Act, they generally have a vague concept of what the ideas mean and how they affect the people involved. It’s easy to generalize with a 24-hour news cycle. It is even easier to think you understand some of the complex and challenging reasons people come to the U.S. and remain undocumented. Fortunately, authors and activists with unique voices have helped...

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internships for high schoolers

Starting Internships Early in Los Angeles

Convinced internships are only for college kids? Think again. Ambitious teens who get some real-world work experience under their belts during high school can get a leg up on college admissions and future job opportunities – all while giving their confidence a healthy boost. Internships give teens a unique opportunity to explore career paths that might interest them (and potentially rule them out). According to a study by and...

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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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Students Sharpen Creative and Leadership Skills in youTHINK

From the stage to the state Capitol, students in the youTHink program learn how to use art, personal development and politics to influence the changes they want to see in the world. youTHink was created in 1999 by ShareWell, the L.A.-based nonprofit that operates the Zimmer Children’s Museum, in an effort to help students ages 9 to 18 build relationship skills, creativity and critical-thinking skills — especially for social change....

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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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campus visits

On the Road to College

In the 2008 film “College Road Trip,” a sentimental dad and his determined daughter crash a hotel wedding, hitch a ride on a crowded tour bus and parachute from 25,000 feet onto the lawn of a major university campus, all in the name of visiting a few colleges. Your family doesn’t have to go to those lengths to check out institutions of higher learning, but there are a number of...

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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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kids social life

Kids’ Social Life at School: Helping Your Child Manage Without Meddling

We all know how important social life at school can be. We were kids once, too. From making new friends in kindergarten to navigating fickle social circles in middle school, forging and sustaining relationships is a huge part of growing up. Peers also play a significant role in kids’ development.  “The power of the relationship is crucial in building other components of learning,” explains Christina Kim, director of student life...

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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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college scholarships

College Scholarship Hacks: The Scoop on How and Where to Find Them

Funding college is an increasing struggle for families – especially those with too much income to qualify for financial aid, but too little to cover tuition. Scholarships and grants can help fill funding gaps, and your search for them should go hand in hand with your search for the right college. Scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid, and some organizations use the terms interchangeably. However, scholarships are...

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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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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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tech for kids

Anti-bullying App Saves Kids a Seat

Navigating the school cafeteria can be stressful. But for 16-year-old Natalie Hampton, who lives in Sherman Oaks and was verbally, physically and cyber bullied during middle school, lunch was one of the worst parts of the day. Being seen eating by herself didn’t help. “I felt vulnerable and worthless. I also think being excluded branded me as a target for bullying,” says Hampton. Her experience led her to create the...

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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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The Push for Passion & Purpose in College Admissions

Parenting your child to build an honest college resume starts earlier than you think  to help your student stand out in competitive times  “We regret to inform you…” Those five words were enough to bring me to tears. I dashed to McDonald’s in the rain and drowned my sorrows with a Big Mac and Hi-C Orange. The rejection letter was from Rice University, the Harvard of the South. I cried...

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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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Chat Room: Molly Newman: Shepherding Students Toward The Arts – and Beyond

Molly Newman was the kid who loved books, stories and writing. She followed her love for literature and started her career as a high school English teacher. As the Director of College Counseling for Idyllwild Arts Academy, she now helps students follow their passion for the arts to college and beyond. Idyllwild Arts, located in the pine-forested San Jacinto Mountains, is an internationally acclaimed residential arts high school with programs...

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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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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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Christopher Fulton, Ph.D.: Helping Anxious Teens (and Parents) on the Road to College

In the last two decades, there has been a noticeable shift in the level of academic and extracurricular expectations placed on college-bound teens. A 4.0 or above GPA and top SAT scores must be accompanied by demonstrations of leadership at school, volunteering in the community and “passion and commitment” to an activity. Pressure to be accepted into the “best” college has created a new type of education “hysteria” among parents...

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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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A Book Club Podcast Just For Tweens

For almost 10 years, Kitty Felde hosted “Talk of the City” on local public radio station KPCC. Part of the fun was attending the L.A. Times Festival of Books and meeting listeners at the KPCC table. Parents would bring their kids with them, and the kids would say they also listened to the station. Felde’s response: “You do not.” But the kids would always insist, “We have to. We’re in...

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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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Why Kids Need Job Skills Now

Except for occasionally being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” most of us didn’t give much thought to our career options until our college years. Maybe. Our focus up to that point was on getting the grades to get into college. These days, programs are popping up that capitalize on our teens’ desire to do things on their own terms, channeling that drive to help...

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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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Three Must-Have Tools For High School Students

High school students and parents are barraged with college and career-planning information via the Internet and social media starting on their first day of high school (if not earlier). It can be a challenge for families in Los Angeles schools to sort through these resources, and not all information is equal. I recommend three must-have tools that will help guide students through their high school careers and plan for their...

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ACT or SAT? Four Questions To Help Students Choose

As a private tutor in Los Angeles for more than 15 years, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of families we work with who choose the ACT over the more-traditional SAT exam on their path toward college admission. Scores from at least one of these tests are required for admission to most major colleges and universities, and every year thousands of students from Los Angeles schools have...

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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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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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Extracurricular Activities: What Colleges Really Care About

By Steve Dorfman Everybody knows colleges want well-rounded students. Kids are asked to volunteer, join sports teams, participate in clubs and be a part of student government. However, there are actually only three things that colleges care about when looking at extracurricular activities, and being “well-rounded” is not one of them. Consistency. The biggest misconception is that students should be involved in many activities. In reality, not only are colleges...

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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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Managing Middle School

Help Your Child Through the Big Transition With These Tips By Elena Epstein I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s first day of middle school. There was the scariness of a new place – not unlike the first day of kindergarten – only this time we didn’t have a sweet teacher taking her hand to reassure her everything would be OK. It was hard leaving our neighborhood elementary school, where most...

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