Beverly Hills Courier Dec. 20th, 2010
In The Beverly Hills Courier, Dec. 31, 2010 (open link and scroll to page 13)
E Online, Dec. 3, 2010
A new celebrity kinship has blossomed.
Though she sweetly protests that Gisele Bündchen is "wealthier" and "much more famous" than she is, and "never has days where she looks as crappy," Mayim Bialik is flattered to be compared to her.
And not just because of the whole supermodel thing.
"I respect Gisele tremendously for her courageous statements about global health and breastfeeding (the evolutionary and natural way to feed and nourish human babies)," Bialik, an advocate of au naturel kid rearing, wrote yesterday on the Holistic Moms Network.
"However, I don't think I should be grouped with her," she protested. "First of all, she is much wealthier than I am, I promise, so she may get help with her 'perfect' parenting that I do not have the luxury of."
And, aside from the supernatural-hotness thing, "the fact that I believe in every woman's right to an empowering natural birth, encourage and practice extended nursing on demand with no social life in sight for the next few years, choose to make baby shampoo and granola and live a holistic lifestyle, and serve as my children's primary caregiver does not make me an example of someone wanting to be 'perfect.' It just makes me me."
And what prompted this stream of commentary from the Big Bang Theory star?
Bialik was responding to a post from a fellow mom on a website for parents trying to get their kids into private elementary schools that singled out the actress and Gisele for things they've said about motherhood under the heading, "Perfect Mommy Syndrome: Are Celebrity Moms Too Perfect?"
Bialik told People that she gave birth at home, doesn't vaccinate and plans to homeschool her kids. Gisele, if you remember, talked up the importance of breastfeeding, threw her support behind a mandatory-breastfeeding law, and told a Brazilian TV station that natural childbirth "didn't hurt in the slightest."
But Bialik insists that she wasn't trying to thumb her nose at other mothers or talk down to anybody just because she has chosen a certain lifestyle for her family.
"The next time you see a picture of me or Gisele on the red carpet, picture me instead on my hands and knees scrubbing my crummy bathtub with only a cracked open box of generic brand baking soda as my cleaning product," she wrote.
"As for Gisele, you can picture her the same exact way if you want to, but picture her looking 1,000 times less 'normal' than I do. And let's all try and be happy for her about that."
Fair enough. But the next time Gisele painlessly gives birth, let it stay between her and her midwife.
—Additional reporting by Jennifer ArrowRead more: http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b214427_Mayim_Bialik__Not_in_Gisele_s__quot_Perfect_Parenting_quot__League.html#ixzz17GNF3bFL
Book Review of Beyond the Brochure: An Insider's Guide to Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles
Beyond the Brochure: An Insider's Guide to Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles (Fat Envelope Publishing), written by Christina Simon, Anne Simon, and Porcha Dodson, offers anxious Los Angeles parents an in-depth look at what it takes to get into private elementary schools throughout LA. From setting up the school tours, filling out the applications, doing the interviews, and waiting for acceptance letters, this book walks you through the often nerve-wracking process and lets you in on some golden nuggets of very useful and helpful info that may increase your chances of getting into a private school.
Christina Simon is the mother of two children who attend The Willows Community School in Culver City. Having recently gone through the process of applying to highly selective Los Angeles-area schools, Christina offers her perspective as a current parent. Her mother, Anne Simon, has more than 30 years experience as an educator in private schools in Los Angeles and nationally, spent four years heading up Wildwood Elementary School, and is also the former dean of the Middle School at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. Anne Simon offers a true insider's view of what admissions directors and their schools look for in their candidates. Porcha Dodson spent five years as a teaching partner and director of diversity at Curtis School in Bel Air.
After describing the various types of elementary schools and educational philosophies that exist (traditional/academic, developmental/progressive, religious, and idealogical),Beyond the Brochure points out that applying to private schools begins one year BEFORE your child will begin school. The book, however, encourages you to start doing your “homework” of learning about the pool of schools available to you by talking to friends, your preschool director, and that you should “Spend the time early to learn as much as possible about LA private elementary schools.” This is sound advice, in my opinion, because the more information you have, the better armed you will be when you finally start touring schools.
Beyond the Brochure contains many critical bits of information that are especially helpful to parents, one of which I think is especially important as you do your research is to attend the annual events that the schools put on (i.e. fairs, picnics, book sales, school plays, etc.). It's hard to get a really good idea of school from simply their school tour. Attending a private school is a huge monetary and emotional commitment - you want to make sure the school you end up sending your son or daughter to meets all of your expectations and needs.
There are many books out there that parents can get their hands on to help them through this process. What I like about Beyond the Brochure is that it gives examples of teacher recommendation forms (what teachers fill out during their assessments of the children), examples of what preschool directors are asked to fill out, examples of sample application questions, as well as sample tests that are given to children on their assessment days. These are all very useful to see before you head into your tour, interview, and finally applying to the school. In addition, the book gives sample letters of recommendation and highly recommends that if you have friends, colleagues, or “anyone who has a connection to the school” for which you are applying, letters of support for your family can be very beneficial.
The other part of the book that I like is that it has testimonials from parents currently attending private schools in LA. While these examples come from mostly a couple of schools (Curtis School and Willows Community School, in particular), it is very interesting to read what other people’s suggestions regarding the application process would be. These views certainly do not represent all experiences of parents, but it is helpful to read more intimate and, hopefully, honest reviews of the experience of applying to private schools in LA.
One criticism that I have of the book is that it omits many of the private schools in Los Angeles (a tall order, of course), but a reader unfamiliar with Los Angeles and various communities might not become aware of other private schools in smaller communities both well-known and hidden gems. For example, only one Pasadena-area private school is listed in the book, while there are at least a dozen or more private schools in the city of Pasadena and its surrounding communities. Be mindful that the views expressed in the book are those of the authors and the parents that they interviewed and do not represent a full and unbiased perspective of the process of applying to schools.
My family went through this ordeal of applying to schools two years ago and I wish that I had had Beyond the Brochure on my night stand table to give me a head’s up about several aspects of this process. Applying to private schools is a very competitive and arduous process and if you have access to this book, I’m sure you will have an easier time going through the many months of researching, applying, discussing with family and friends, waiting for letters, and making your ultimate decision than you would without such a helpful and insightful guide.
You can purchase Beyond the Brochure: An Insider's Guide to Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles online at Fat Envelope Publishing and at Amazon for $32.
Check out the author's blog for helpful articles on parenting, schools, and more.
Full disclosure: I did not purchase this book, however, the views expressed here are solely my own.
Beyond The Brochure: An Insider's Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles received "Honorable Mention" in the 2010 DIY Book Festival which honors independent and self-published books.
A Parenting Examiner Review of Beyond The Brochure
by Rebecca Lacko, parenting columnist
Many parents worry about how to pick the right private elementary school for their child. Selecting the right school can be challenging. We’ve agonized over these decisions ourselves. And, the competitive nature of private elementary schools in Los Angeles can limit a family’s choices because there’s no guarantee that your child will be accepted at your favorite schools.
To help you choose the best possible school for your child, here are some excellent tips from Christina Simon, Anne Simon and Porcha Dodson, collaborative authors of a new book, Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles: (Read on to learn how you can WIN one of FIVE copies of this incomparable guide!)
Tour as many schools as possible. The authors recommend parents see between eight and ten schools to really learn how different each school is from another. This is easier if you start looking at schools two years before you apply (which is one year before your child will enroll in kindergarten). Los Angeles has excellent private elementary schools, but each one is unique and unless you visit the school, you won’t get a good feel for what it has to offer.
Location, location, location. Geography matters in Los Angeles. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of finding an outstanding school that you know would be a great fit for your child. The only problem: it’s an hour drive each way to and from the school. Don’t ignore this geographic reality. A commute of this distance will be difficult on your child and the entire family. And, don’t forget about your child’s play dates and events that require you to be at the school during the day and on more than a few evenings.
Be aware of the popularity contest. It’s easy to choose a school because it’s “trendy” or “popular” or filled with celebrities. Don’t forget, these trends change from year to year and this isn’t a good reason to select a school. When parents at your child’s preschool are abuzz about a particular school, take a step back and ask yourself if you are being influenced away from your own values. Be confident in your choices even if they are not the most sought-after schools.
Plan ahead (but not too far ahead). K-6? K-8? K-12? Should you pick an elementary school that has a middle and/or high school? A number of the top private elementary schools in Los Angeles have middle and/or high schools. How important is this when you’re choosing an elementary school? THe authors think you should focus on the elementary school at this point. It’s impossible to know whether your child will remain at the same school until he or she goes to college. The lack of a middle or high school shouldn’t deter you from touring or selecting a great elementary school. Remember that a school that is devoted to elementary education will keep its primary focus on the programs your child will benefit from now.
Calculate the costs. Tuition at the top private elementary schools in Los Angeles can range from $17,000 to $24,000 per child, per year. Some schools are slightly more expensive and parochial schools cost less. You should know that schools increase tuition annually. And, you need to consider additional out-of-pocket expenses. Every private school asks families to contribute to their annual giving campaign. Your child may want to take enrichment classes or need after-school care. Summer camp, hot lunch and other expenses can add up quickly. If you don’t think you can afford the full tuition, inquire about financial aid, which, if awarded, could cover all or part of your child’s tuition and other expenses. Many private elementary schools place a very high priority on having an economically diverse student body. Money should not deter you from seeking the best education for your child.
Find the right fit for your child. Most importantly, don’t lose sight of your family’s core values during this process. Look around each school and observe the classrooms, teachers, administrators, students and other parents. Try to see the students in upper grades. Can you feel a connection with the culture of the school? Do you think your child would feel comfortable at the school? Would he or she be excited to arrive at school every day? If your child is artistic and the school lacks an arts program, is it really the right school? Your goal is to find a school where your child will be inspired, challenged and nurtured. Your family should feel comfortable with the other parents. Ideally, your parenting style and family values will be similar to other families at the school. This helps build a sense of community and belonging.
The right private elementary school for your child is there. You just need to find it!
For more info: Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles, available at Amazon.com. Visit FatEnvelopePublishing.com or see what's new at the book's blog.
Christina Simon is the parent of two children at the Willows Community School.
Porcha Dodson is a former teaching partner and director of diversity at the Curtis School.
From LA City Mom's Award-Winning Blog
by LEEROSEEMERY on SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
I just finished reading, Beyond the Brochure, which I have to say is a must read for any of you who are contemplating embarking on the year long journey of trying to secure a place in a private school kindergarten in Los Angeles. Like most major cities, getting your child into kindergarten in LA is a long drawn out process of tours and interviews, school play dates, and most of all, soul searching. One must ask the hard questions about what kind of education one wants their child to have, not to mention the daunting question of how much it will cost, and is private school a possibility? Beyond the Brochure is a well-organized and concise look at the often-overwhelming process of applying to schools from start to finish. The book covers everything from interview dos and don’ts, to sample tests that are given to pre-schoolers to ascertain readiness. There is a great chapter on applications and letters of recommendations, and many answers to questions that may come up on your school search. The book is well written, and funny and will hopefully reduce some of the stress that we over-conscientious parents feel as we try to do what is best for our kids in what feels like the most important decision of their little lives.
Christina Simon, an elementary school parent, Porcha Dodson, a former teacher, and Anne Simon, a former head of the Wildwood School, and Dean of Crossroads Middle School, are the book’s authors. They are private school insiders who share a wide range of insights and experiences about the process. If only the book had been around when I needed it a few years back! But it least it is here for you. Or maybe you have a friend who you’ve noticed is starting to hyperventilate when anyone mentions what kindergartens they are considering. Buy them the book. They carry it at Chevalliers on Larchmont Blvd. Or Amazon.
Now available on Amazon.com and Chevaliers Books on Larchmont!
"Beyond the Brochure: An Insider’s Guide to Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles" is a valuable resource written by collaborative authors Christina Simon, Anne Simon and Porcha Dodson who offer a revealing glimpse into private elementary schools in Los Angeles. Parents will learn about financial aid, selecting which schools to visit, what questions to ask on the tours and testing tips and resources for diverse families. Christina Simon is the parent of two children at The Willows Community School, Anne Simon is the former head of the Wildwood Elementary School and the former dean of the Crossroads Middle School. Porcha Dodson spent five years as a teaching partner and director of diversity at the Curtis School. The book includes samples of applications, examples of test questions a child might be asked during his/her interview and tips for successful parent interviews, leaving no surprises. Available on Amazon.com and in local bookstores. For more information, visit www.fatenvelopepublishing.com