When I tell my friends back in Minnesota, where I grew up, about The L.A. Kindergarten Class and our mission, they usually ask me some version of the question. “Wow,” they say, “is that really a thing?” And I usually say that well, it shouldn’t be – but here we are. Between neighborhood schools, magnets (with the complex points system), charters (a few kinds), and private schools, Los Angeles parents have a myriad of educational options for their kids. But they’ve also got no roadmap for how to navigate the system – and that’s why the moms and dads I know here in L.A. tend to understand better why The L.A. Kindergarten Class came to be.
Everyone knows that the “school question” weighs on SoCal parents. Our mission is to empower families by helping them understand the various pathways available to them and we are working to make that help more accessible than it ever has been before.
And here’s the thing: we do this because we’ve been through it ourselves. We know what it’s like to be parents of a preschooler, overwhelmed by all the different ways we could go to find the right kindergarten experience for our family, because that was us not so long ago. For me, personally, finding the best school for my daughter became somewhat of a full-time job, and I really got frustrated when I thought about all of the parents out there who simply didn’t have the time or the access to information that I did when it came to putting together this puzzle. Why on earth is this so hard and time consuming?
Some attempts have been made previously to address this issue. A now-retired woman used to do information sessions, with groups of parents in living rooms, to go over the specifics of the magnet school application process while parents took notes feverishly. And that was for exactly one type of school – yet she filled those living rooms because parents were delighted by the opportunity for help with this! There have also been a few books written for local parents that fall out of date as soon as the next application season arrives, and a few consultants who concentrate only on private school applications, or only on public schools, but charge thousands of dollars – which keeps that kind of help way out of reach for most families.
Now, when I went through my kindergarten odyssey, I didn’t know about any of those consultants. My preschool offered the living room lady’s magnet talk and gave us a day’s notice to sign up. Well, my husband was working that night and I had a baby and a 3-year-old at home, so unfortunately I could not attend. Instead, I became my own consultant. I mapped out spreadsheets filled with info about application deadlines, school scores, and my own assessments after going on every school tour I possibly could. I learned the system up and down, and eventually realized that I could use this expertise to help others who were faced with the same decisions but did not have the opportunity to do as deep of a dive as I did. So I never closed the spreadsheets. I kept researching, because the truth is things change every year (especially this year).
When I first went through the process, I was looking at both public and private school options. It is clear to me now that a lot of families are just like mine – really wanting to know every possible school choice, public and private, so they can clearly assess and weigh their options. Our class has helped those families a lot, the ones looking at all options and trying to figure out which is the best one for their child and how to get their child into those “best fit” schools. Looking back I now see that, even if I had known about them, I would have had to hire one consultant for our private school applications and another to help me understand the public options. That would have been a whole lot more money than I was comfortable spending as a stay-at-home mom, always conscious of keeping expenses low. The L.A. Kindergarten Class has been and continues to be the only experts in town on ALL school types, including public and private options.
Before starting this class, though, I began working for a local non-profit called The Parents Education League (PEL) during the last few years of its impactful run, and that’s where I met Kim Haselhoff. Kim shared my passion to help parents understand and take advantage of all the opportunities available to their children, and we both agreed that the once-per-year kindergarten-focused seminar offered by PEL was not enough. So we teamed up and started hosting our own seminars – and that’s how the L.A. Kindergarten Class was born.
Kim and I soon discovered that parents were eager to get help understanding and accessing the maze of LAUSD neighborhood schools, magnets, affiliated charters, independent charters, and private and parochial schools. Every year, we hosted many seminars around town, and every year attendance grew – because parents were getting all of their questions answered and leaving with concrete, printed timetables and other resources. Our biggest challenge was fitting everything into a two-hour seminar… let’s just say we often ran a little long, and then lingered even longer answering individual questions. That’s one of the many reasons I’m excited about our transition to online coaching, because now we can cover everything you need to know – in short, laser-focused videos, and we can walk you through the process over the course of the entire year.
So here’s the pitch: We strongly believe parents deserve more help with this undertaking and that the help should be more accessible. We’ve always kept our pricing low because we wanted more people to be able to access this help. Now, in an effort to MAKE THIS INFORMATION EVEN MORE AVAILABLE TO PARENTS, we are offering the help online, which you can access 24/7, as many times as you want, over the course of your application year. We will continually update our content during the application season, answer questions as we go, and support you along the way. And we are offering this full year of coaching for $129 because we want you to be able to get the help you need.
I promise: it’s going to be the BEST POSSIBLE SUPPORT that parents in Los Angeles have ever had.
Also, every year, the L.A. Kindergarten Class selects one under-funded LAUSD school’s PTA to receive $10 from every course purchase, because we know that fundraising at certain schools is just incredibly hard. Your donation will mean a PTA group will be able to help fund art experiences for students, science projects, or anything they think will help their school community.
Join us, because we care tremendously that you get the information you deserve as you make a critical decision for your family about what schools to pursue for your children. We have more empathy for parents in Los Angeles than anyone else ever has. I promise you that we will deliver for you.