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Re: Seeking Elementary/Middle School Advice
I've got a 2nd grader and kindergarten-er in Lafayette public schools (specifically Happy Valley). I am really happy with the schools so far. I moved to Lafayette from Oakland for the schools and I haven't been disappointed. Not sure it is the same for all the schools here, but Happy Valley focuses on pdf - playtime, downtime and family time. They stress not over-scheduling kids, letting kids be kids. Academics are great - lots of support, involved parent community, relatively low class sizes (20-23 kids per class). There are great enrichment programs funded by LPIE - Lafayette Partners in Education. LPIE is funded by parents (request is $1K/per kid/per year) and community businesses. They sponser art, science and music in the schools. Overall I am very happy with Lafayette schools. happy with lafayette schools
Re: Best districts for elementary aged kids with autism
As a parent to a 9 yr old with ASD I have relocated to Lafayette specifically for the schools. My child has classic autism, late talker... And other ASD symptoms but is more in the high functioning group, not aspergers. Springhill elementary school in Lafayette is a wonderful school that offeres special Ed classes specific to kids abilities with mainstreaming into the General Ed class and a lot of awareness & acceptance for our kids. Yes, it is a bit pricey here in Lafayette & I've accepted to live in a smaller home than if like to but it's one of the best school districts in California. There's no tolerance for bulling which our ASD kids need, acceptance and understanding. I wouldn't send my kid to school Anywhere else! A.
Re: What schools have differentiated instruction?
Since you asked about Lafayette, where we live, I will say in my experience it depends on the teacher. In elementary school, my daughter, who was a very advanced reader, got some differentiated instruction, depending on the teacher. By middle school, there are many opportunities to differentiate in math but not so much in language. The one time I asked for a different assignment, as the original one was so easy for her as to be laughable, the teacher came up with a completely ridiculous and busy-work making assignment. I learned to never ask for anything like that again. Now I am a bit more humble on the whole topic, as she is plenty challenged in high school. Unless your child is profoundly gifted, I think you should be focusing on receiving good overall instruction, and not worrying too much about the differentiation. There are also plenty of opportunities to seek enrichment outside of the classroom. Just my $.02
Has anyone had the issue of not getting into your neighborhood elementary school as a new resident at Lafayette? What has the district office been telling you about the process for redirecting and process for placement? It seems to me that the district office has created a permanent problem of overcrowding the neighborhood schools. I was told that they consider all inter-district (inter-neighborhood transfers), redirected students of past years who decide to stay in their non-neighborhood schools and redirected student's siblings AHEAD of new enrollments in the neighborhood. If you think about it, new students are considered last. I've heard that almost all new students in my neighborhood almost never get into our neighborhood elementary school at first. Has anyone else experienced the same problem? If I call the school district office, I can't get a straight answer about how these decisions are made. -lafayette mom
My story: moved to lafayette from oakland a year ago. moved into the downtown neighborhood; registered by son at lafayette elementary. We recently closed on a house in the happy valley district. We really wanted to keep our son at lafayette elementary but were told we could not because lafayette elementary has a long waiting list of in-district students. So we got the boot. I'm guessing that may be in part because our son was registered but had not started yet (he starts kindergarten soon). Good luck! brenda
Nevertheless, if your understanding is correct, then I can understand that policy too. If a child is redirected, then they are sent to another school that is further from their home. They didn't have a choice in this matter. If, in time, they choose to stay at that school, then there is a good chance that the parents would like any subsequent children to also attend the same school. The school district probably understands how hard it is on families to be split up between schools.
I will tell you about my experience. We live walking distance to Lafayette Elementary. When we moved to Lafayette this past spring, neither of my two children got into our local school. It was very upsetting and frustrating. Fortunately both were redirected to the same school, Burton Valley (there was no guarantee that they would be placed at the same school).
One of my children got into Lafayette Elementary after one month at Burton. At this point, I had kids in two different schools and that was challenging. With all the extra driving and coordinating, I didn't have a lot of extra time or energy to get involved in either school! I'm sure this is what the school district wants to avoid if they are trying to keep siblings together.
My second kid got into Lafayette Elementary this summer and will be a new student there in the fall. We loved Burton, but felt that walking to school and attending with our neighbors was the right choice. The round-trip commute to Burton twice daily took close to an hour and that was also a big factor in our decision to move schools.
Good luck and hang in there. Even if you didn't get your home school upon enrolling, chances are you'll get a call this year with a spot. A neighbor of ours was redirected to Springhill and she too got a spot at Lafayette this fall. Walking to school now!
We're planning to move to Lafayette with a first grader and a third grader. The home we are considering is near one of the four schools in Lafayette, but I've heard that some of the grades may have no space. I've called the school district to enquire and they can tell me nothing. An acquaintance told me that if our neighborhood school was full, that we'd be sent across town to Burton Valley (of course this is a great school too, but just far from where we would be living).
I was wondering if anyone can share their experiences about getting their children into their neighborhood school. Was it easy? Did you have to wait for a while? If you had only one child accepted, would you split them up into two different schools and hoped that the second would eventually find a place? Does everyone eventually get into the school that they want to attend? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Excited but nervous
My family is considering moving to Lafayette for more challenging schools for our kids. Our daughter is in 1st grade in a Berkeley public school and the curriculum is just not challenging at all for her. She spends much of her day waiting for the other kids to finish their work, as her teacher does a lot of direct instruction. Her reading and mathematics skills are far above grade level and she is sort of out on her own with that. We've heard that in the Burton Valley school they have a good GATE program, while Berkeley's GATE program is basically nonexistent.
We'd be interested to hear if other families have found the Lafayette schools to be challenging enough for kids who are working one or two grade levels above.
Also how are the arts integrated into the day in Lafayette schools? Berkeley talks a lot about valuing the arts, but I don't see that at all this year in my daughter's classroom. Pondering a Move
It's a lot different out here. So many of the parents drive the humongous gas guzzlers and look at us like we are crazy for driving small fuel efficient vehicles. I don't have the need to wear designer clothes or color my hair which seems common out here.
My kids have had a hard time too. Seems like lots of family's move here who can't afford and move out after a year or two. As a result my daughter has to make new best friends every year or so. I can't wait to move somewhere where money, blond hair and designer clothes don't make the friends. -I can't wait to move back to Berkeley
For academical challenge, you may want to compare, for example, the homework in your school and also here in my son's class, and see if you feel that is challenging enough. I cannot tell you if it is more challenging than the schools in Berkeley, but at least at our son's school, they have done evaluation on his reading and math at the beginning of the school year.
The homework just started since the lastweek. He brings back the books to read based on the level that he was evaluated at. They are also doing sight words based on there level too. So,,, in terms of reading, I see some teaching differentiation there. About math, I unfortunately don't know much about the differentiation teaching in the class room, and I don't see it either in math homework, but we supplement his math at home greatly, since he loves it so much.
About math, my older son's 4th grade class room had math table every Friday. Kids in similar math level got together at each tables, parent volunteers were assigned there to let them do some math activities suitable for their level. I believe the 5th grade class is also doing the same thing.
About GATE program, the kids have a standard test at the end of 3rd grade. If your child scores very high, (I believe,,, at 99 percentile), your child is invited to do GATE program. I heard it is not a mandatory, so you can choose to stay with a regular program, or move onto GATE.
You may want to speak to PTA president too to get the feel of the community. I don't know if that is possible, but that is what I did when we were trying to decide where to move or to stay in El Cerrito. I spoke with a member of PTA in Madera Elementary, and they provided lots of information about the school.
All being said, I feel the best person who can give tailored academical education is you. You are the best person to know her strength and weakness, and also where her interests (both academical and non-academical) will lie. There are so many online websites with interesting word, math, and science games that you can print out for her. That can be a great thing to do just for fun on weekends.
Good luck! newbie mom in Lafayette
My son has a (mild) Asperger's diagnosis and we are considering moving to Lafayette or Orinda for better schools. We have started looking at different homes. While I know both these districts have very good schools in general, does anyone have information (positive or negative) on the ASD support services at a particular elementary in either of these towns? What about Happy Valley Elementary in particular? Any school in either town which you have feedback in terms of special ed services? Thanks so much for any input on this topic. -looking for school advice
I would love to hear of the experiences of kids with ADHD in Lafayette elementary schools. Is there a particular school that supports and works well with these types of kids? We will be relocating to Lafayette shortly and are weighing our options for our first grader who will be coming from an independent school. Anon.
My child will be starting Kindergarten at Springhill Elementary School in Lafayette this fall. I was wondering if anyone had any experiences, good or bad, about the two major after-school care options, Kids Hideout on campus or Happy Days preschool across the street. I'd also like to know if there are any other options in the area, particularly any home-based daycares in the area that pick up from the school. Thanks. Springhill Mom
In response to Kathy from Walnut Creek: We have found the Lafayette Public Schools to be wonderfully warm and welcoming. My children are now at Stanley Middle but went k-5 through Happy Valley. Through town sports, scouts etc we are friends with many people from the other schools too and each has much to recommend it. While each is unique, all four elementrys have a strong sense of community, active involved parents and fine staff. HV, Springhill and Lafayette are all around 450 kids, Burton is closer to 900 - but still enjoys a tight knit community. Through Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation, all the schools have strong choral music programs from K and instrumental programs from grade 4. LASF also provides a very strong art program at all schools. None of the elementry schools have foreign language available during the school day though several have pay to participate afterschool offerings. There is also a very strong private French program in town for preschool through grade 6 open to anyone wishing to sign up. Ann
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