Enrollment FAQ

Montessori Toddler and Preschool (ages 18 months-6 years, including Kindergarten)

I observed Montessori classrooms and there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for pretend play. Is this true?

Starting in her first “Children’s House” in 1907, Dr. Montessori found that children did not choose pretend play, when given the opportunity to do actual, meaningful work instead. Her first classrooms contained dollhouses, for instance, where children could pretend to serve tea to dolls—and real, child-sized tea sets, where children could prepare real tea and serve it to each other. Invariably, the children would choose to do real work with real utensils, which is why we enable our children to do the same in all of our classrooms.This is not to say that pretend play should be eliminated from a child’s experience. If a child engages in pretend play at home, parents should support the child’s choice. But in the school environment, we’ve found that children themselves prefer to be engaged in meaningful work—and find it fun!

How do you foster creativity? The children seem to work in a structured way, always doing the same things with the materials.

Dr. Montessori believed, and we agree, that real creativity is built on a foundation of skills. Just as a creative jazz piano player is one who has mastered playing to the point of automaticity first, at which point his mind is free to improvise beautiful melodies and rhythms. In the same way, we prepare your child with the skills he needs to be truly creative. For example, we teach him how to control a pencil to create the “art of the inset”, and he thereby acquires the foundational skills needed to paint creative pictures later on. Click here to read our blog post about Montessori and Creativity for more information.

When I observe a Montessori preschool class, most kids work by themselves. Will my child still learn social skills?

Montessori classrooms have a strong focus on developing mature social skills. Our teachers constantly support each child’s social development: they provide students with words to express their emotions, model grace and courtesy in social interactions, and guide them as they learn to control their impulses in order to interact maturely with their peers. Dr. Montessori has found that most preschoolers, when left to their own devices, prefer to work alone—and we respect that choice. Thus, the children are free to work individually during designated periods of the day, and they participate in group activities at other times (such as for certain lessons and group sing-alongs). Our goal is to enable each individual child to benefit from social interactions, and to develop a fundamental benevolent attitude towards other people.

Why is Kindergarten included with preschool?

Our program, like most Montessori programs, has multi-age classrooms. Children aged 3-6 are in one class called “Primary” because of the pedagogical benefits of such an environment. Dr. Montessori found that children in this age range follow a similar developmental pattern—and so she tailored the materials in the classroom specifically to their needs. Indeed, the third year of the program, the “kindergarten year”, is critical: in the 3rd year, primary students cash in on all the preparatory work they have done up until that point in the Montessori program; by the 3rd year, they are fast becoming proficient writers and readers, and are mastering the basics of arithmetic. The kindergarten year also serves a psychological purpose. Students benefit from being the oldest children in class, as they mentor their younger peers and deepen their own skills by showing them to the younger students. They develop a sense of accomplishment and confidence that makes them yearn for, rather than fear, the challenges ahead. Children graduate to the elementary class when they are ready, generally sometime in the year after their 6th birthday.

Will my child learn to read and write?

Yes. Children who join our program at or before age 3 typically learn to write by age 4 ½ – 5, and are reading shortly thereafter. Our 6 year olds regularly read a wide range of children’s books and write multi-sentence compositions in neat cursive handwriting.

Why do Montessori children learn cursive before print?

It seems counter-intuitive, but it is actually more natural for a child to begin with the flowing lines of cursive than it is to engage in the stop-and-start motions required in printed text. In many traditional programs, children are taught to print first, based on the assumption that cursive is too difficult for a young hand to learn. Cursive is then taught in 3rd grade—at which point the child must unlearn the print method, and learn a new way to write. This process is unnecessarily cumbersome: with Montessori materials, our children easily learn neat cursive handwriting at ages 4 ½ or 5, thereby skipping the intermediary step of print letters—while at the same time practicing to read print letters, of course. Cursive is the faster, more efficient way of handwriting, and it helps a child develop a sense of personal style.

I saw a child upset in the classroom, and the teacher didn’t immediately comfort him. Why not?

Our teachers observe children carefully and provide targeted support, such as a kind word, a short hug, and by being present near the child to reassure him, rather than holding him for extended periods. This is particularly true in the case of children new to the class, who tend to quickly develop a sense of comfort in the classroom setting. In a case where such an approach is not working, a teacher will offer a child continued support. However, there is sometimes an initial period where a teacher will observe a student in order to give him a chance to calm down on his own, and so the teacher can assess how best way to help him; during this time, a crying child may not be immediately comforted. We understand that young children can have strong emotions and need support in coping with them, especially as they transition into a new environment. Our teachers are trained to do so with utmost care: they focus on enabling the child to recognize his emotions, and guiding him as he slowly learns to become more emotionally independent—all while ensuring that each child knows that his teachers care deeply about him. In general, we believe that children develop greater self-esteem and independence if they discover that they are not entirely dependent on adults for handling emotional situations. We have found that with proper nurturing and support, our students grow to be better prepared to thrive in the less controlled environments of elementary school and beyond.

Will my toddler cry when he first joins the class? What if he has separation anxiety?

We understand that many young children—especially toddlers and young 3 year olds—may experience separation anxiety when they first enter a new environment. Our goal is to make the transition a smooth experience, and to enable your child to learn that it is okay to be with new, caring people away from parents or other long-term caregivers. We take your family’s and your child’s individual context into account as we manage this important transition, and most of our students adapt to our school quite smoothly. We have learned that a few principles generally help make this a positive experience:

    • An individualized approach—including shortened days during the first week, where needed. We invite parents to discuss their concerns with us, before the transitions starts. The more we know about your child, the better we can help make her comfortable with the change from her home environment to school. On occasion, when children have a particularly tough adjustment, we do ask a parent to be available for an early pick-up (and we appreciate your cooperation). After a week to ten days of slowly lengthening mornings, most children will have gained the confidence to join the full program.
    • Parents in the classrooms during the transition period. We invite you to come and visit the school and to see the classroom with your child before his start date. We also invite your child to join us for an hour or two of play time the Friday before he starts school. Some campuses invite parents to linger outside, in the play area, while the children arrive. Once classes start, however, we suggest that you take a warm, brief goodbye from your child. You are always welcome to observe your child anytime, but we have found that when parents come in the classroom, it prolongs the anxiety, as the child comes to expect the parent to stay, and leads children who have already separated from their parents to regress.
    • Extra personal support and attention in the classroom, by peers and teachers. To support those children who have separation issues, we build in extra time for emotional support: our toddler rooms have a low child-teacher ratio. With rolling enrollments, we ensure that we never have a full class of new children at once. Our mixed-age primary rooms rarely have more than 3-4 new children joining at a time (many of our kids move up from the toddler program; others enroll mid-year). Our group of floating teachers and the Head of School provide extra assistance in difficult separation periods. We may also assign new students an older “mentor”—a child who has been with us for at least 18 months and who enjoys being a one-on-one guide to his new little friend.
    • A belief in children’s resilience & emotional growth. Through years of experience, we have found that it is rare for children (even young children) to be emotionally upset while they have this level of support and personal attention—especially when they see their peers enjoy the many wonderful activities our schools offer. We are, however, comfortable to let our young charges struggle just a bit as they adjust: while we will never let a child cry for an extended period of time, we will occasionally give a child the opportunity to calm down on his own for a little while, with a teacher nearby to offer a kind word and hug now and then. We find that this builds self-confidence, as the child slowly learns to better deal with challenging emotions, without relying entirely on an adult to sooth him.

Montessori Elementary (Grades 1-3)

Why do you offer a Montessori approach for grades 1-3?

Between the ages of 6 and 9, children experience a tremendous amount of development—both in how they learn and in what they learn. At the beginning of elementary school, they still need considerable physical freedom to move; they have widely differing ability levels (one child may be strong in language arts and need more time in math, or vice versa). The bulk of their time is spent on acquiring skills (such as arithmetic, handwriting skills, reading and spelling); they also learn content that is very close to the observational level, such as acquiring the scientific vocabulary of plant parts, animals, etc.Our Montessori environment enables children to learn these skills and content in a developmentally appropriate way. They can progress at their own pace, spend more time on areas where they need more attention, and slowly develop the organization and time-management skills they need to succeed later in their schooling.Most importantly, this environment enables them to develop the fundamental concentration skills they need for future success. Children need to learn how to sustain attention on a task, to focus and mindfully engage themselves in work. We’ve found that a Montessori framework is crucial in helping children acquire this capacity.

Do children find it difficult to transition to a "normal" classroom in 4th grade?

No, our children have no problem transitioning to a 4th grade class at LePort or elsewhere. During their time in our Montessori elementary program, they acquire skills equivalent to, and often above grade level—and they learn how to learn. They start out with concrete materials in 1st grade, and then transition to more abstract content over the three years they are with us. For example, in math, they start with the beads and end up doing 4th or 5th grade math with paper and pencil by the end of 3rd grade. They have developed long attention spans; they have learned to solve their own problems and to edit their own work; they are organized, and can keep track of deadlines and work towards them. We purposefully develop these skills, so that our students can sit, listen and work with more abstract ideas when they graduate to 4th grade.

The children seem to choose their own work in the Montessori classes. Do you provide any curriculum to ensure they still progress in all subject areas?

Montessori schools differ in how much guidance they provide in the elementary grades. At LePort, we believe in freedom within limits: our teachers have a clearly defined curriculum that each child is expected to master over the three years in lower elementary, and they offer children a lot of choices in the particular way they master this curriculum. For example, every week the child agrees to a “work contract” with her teacher, which outlines the works she needs to complete over the course of the week. This required work typically can be done in four days, leaving the equivalent of one day a week for the child to dive deeper in areas she is most interested in. It also leaves the child much freedom of choice: she can decide when she wants to do which work. One week she can spend a whole day on math or writing; the next week she can decide to do a few hours on each subject everyday for variety.

What happens if a child doesn’t do the work he should be doing at his age level?

Because of the individualized, self-paced approach of our Montessori elementary classrooms, we have a wonderful ability to tailor what a child works on according to his needs. A student who is weaker in writing, but strong in mathematics, for instance, may find that more of his weekly “work contract” focuses on language arts to ensure he gets the practice he needs. And because of the many different types of activities available among the Montessori materials, we can adapt to many different learning needs. If a student struggles with long multiplication, for example, we can offer him the basic bead materials, to re-ground him in the basic requisite skill; he can work with a simple multiplication board, then progress to the checker board, then to the small bead frame, and ultimately learn to do the operation abstractly.By combining a wide range of carefully-designed activities with a very individualized approach, our nurturing teachers are able to ensure that each child masters the core skills and acquires the knowledge he needs to succeed in further schooling. Our test scores bear witness to this: in 2010, our 3rd graders in Mission Viejo scored in the top 2% of all 3rd graders nationwide—without the tedious, time-consuming, mind-numbing test preparation exercises all too commonly found in other schools.

Upper Elementary/Junior High (Grades 4-8)

Are you going to open an Upper Elementary & Junior High school in other locations—e.g. San Francisco?

It is our goal to ultimately provide our full program, including upper elementary and junior high in all the markets we serve. When and whether that happens depends on both parent demand and available real estate. As of Fall 2015, we’re offering Upper Elementary/Junior high at our Irvine Spectrum school and our Fountain Valley school, as well as a mixed-age upper elementary program at our Solana Beach school, with similar programs planned to start as children mature into 4th grade at our Emeryville and Carlsbad Village schools. In general, once a region has a strong base of graduating kindergarten students, we want to enable them to continue with us through elementary. Of course, being able to do this depends on many factors, including the availability of the right type of property.

What size are your classes?

Our classes in our 4th – 8th grade program at the Irvine Spectrum and Fountain Valley schools currently range from between 10-16 students. Our ideal class size is between 14-16 students, to both provide the one-on-one attention our program requires and to ensure each child has a large enough network of peers to form lasting friendships.

Why do you transition away from Montessori in 4th grade?

Our Upper Elementary and Junior High programs in Irvine and Fountain Valley may not look like our 1st to 3rd grade Montessori classrooms—but while the external appearance changes, we do not transition away from the principles of the Montessori approach. What changes is how these principles manifest themselves: as students get older, they gradually transition from concrete materials to more abstract ideas. We are currently offering programs organized by grade levels in Irvine and Fountain Valley, simultaneously to offering mixed-age Montessori programs in our Solana Beach school (and soon in Emeryville and Carlsbad Village).  Our pedagogical principles remain the same throughout, independent of the setting and site, and true to the spirit of Montessori:

    • We build on curiosity—and recognize how important it is that the child chooses to learn because he is sincerely interested in the materials.
    • We offer long work periods where children pursue self-directed activities, and where they apply and practice what they learn.
    • We ensure that our students are learning about the world, not how to memorize for a test.
    • We add a personal touch – by tying what we teach to each child’s context, and tailoring our approach to recognize her abilities.
    • We offer a carefully prepared environment that extends beyond just academics to include such things as developing social skills, character and organizational skills.
    • We have a curriculum that builds sequentially; every time the child learns something new, it forms the foundation for the next thing that they will learn.

If my child is advanced, how will you meet his needs?

Because our program is academically rigorous, and because we always tailor what we teach to each child’s context of background knowledge, skills and interests, we are able to accommodate children of varying ability levels. Our teachers delight in having advanced students in their classes. As experts in their fields, they are passionate about the content they teach, which means that they always have much more material they would love to cover if given the opportunity. Through enrichment lessons and projects, advanced students give them that opportunity.On rare occasion, especially in mathematics, we may have a student who is so advanced that he does not fit into the regular classroom, even with all the tailoring and enriching we do. In those cases, we offer individualized classes through STAS, the LePort Supplemental Tutoring and Support program: we have the additional staff to offer advanced instruction (one-on-one or in a small group setting) in any subject area during regular class hours for an additional monthly fee. Call us and we can provide you with more details.

If my child has remedial needs, can he still attend a LePort school?

LePort Schools offers an academically rigorous curriculum, but because we always tailor what we teach to each child’s context of background knowledge, skills and interests, we are able to accommodate children of varying ability levels. With extra support, and because of our nurturing environment, students with remedial needs are able to thrive at LePort. Depending on your child’s remedial needs, we can craft different types of programs to enable him to fit into our school. We have, for example, done the following things to help students:

  • Tailored assignments to meet the student’s needs (e.g. providing additional math skill practice, or more grammar work)
  • Created a plan of individualized, supplemental afternoon tutoring in key subjects
  • Put two teachers into a classroom for a while to ensure that a group of students who were behind caught up with the rest of the class
  • Offered summer tutoring in the months leading up to the start of school
  • Offered instruction (one-on-one or in a small group setting) during regular class hours through STAS, the LePort Supplemental Tutoring and Support Program, for an extra fee, until the student catches up with his regular class

What types of arts programs do you offer?

Art is integrated throughout our curriculum. In history, the children study the artwork of whichever period they are learning about—from Greek sculpture to Renaissance paintings—and also draw historic scenes where appropriate to apply their understanding. In science, we guide students to illustrate their observations—for instance, they will sketch a rock, plant or animal they observed. Depending on demand, we also offer optional afterschool classes on drawing, painting, music, and art appreciation; these optional classes are aimed at students of different ages, from Montessori to junior high.

How often do you take field trips?

Field trips are an integral part of our Upper Elementary and Junior High program. We typically take a trip every 4-6 weeks, and guarantee at least five field trips during each school year. Field trip fees are paid in advance to ensure you can budget and plan for your child’s experience, and include all transportation and admission costs (but not costs for overnight accommodations). We often need parent volunteers, and look forward to seeing you at one of our next trips. Recent destinations include:

  • The Orange County Register
  • The Wild Animal Park in Escondido
  • The Pacific Marine Mammal Center
  • The Dana Point Ocean Institute
  • The South Coast Repertory
  • The Huntington Library

Pedagogical Issues

What is your school’s approach to religion in education?

LePort Schools is proud to maintain an exceedingly diverse community, with a variety of faiths and beliefs represented among our community of staff, parents, and students. As a secular school, we welcome students and families from every possible background. We focus on academic content, including background historical knowledge of various religions where it arises in the chronology of history. However, we leave substantive religious teachings up to the individual family.

What is your school’s approach to politics in education?

LePort Schools believes that current affairs and politics do not have any place in an education through eighth grade. We are very careful to remain neutral on anything that bears on any particular controversial political issue. Our individual staff members hold a variety of political beliefs, but all take very great care not to disclose their personal views to their students. Our goal is to develop in our students the ability to think through issues for themselves, and to clearly articulate their own ideas. We focus on cultivating those skills – in essence, on the ability to form one’s own judgment and act accordingly – without teaching any particular position. Parents who would like their children to be politically informed are encouraged to discuss these matters with their children at home.

Are you a "green" school?

No. The “green” movement, also called the environmentalist movement, is a political movement, and so LePort is careful to take no stance. We do not believe our students are ready to independently understand and judge the incredibly complicated issues surrounding environmentalism. Rather, throughout our curriculum we hope to provide students with a strong grounding in logic, scientific thinking, and methodology, so that as adults they can parse apart environmentalism and other particular political movements, and then decide what beliefs they would like to hold and what consequent actions/activism they would like to take in their lives. Parents who would like to expose their children to particular environmentalist themes or positions are encouraged to discuss these matters with their children at home.

What is your school’s approach to public service & volunteerism by students?

Unlike some schools, LePort does not require public service or volunteerism from its students as part of its academic programs. Outside of the classroom, we encourage our students to passionately pursue their own, chosen personal interests, and thereby develop their individuality. Whether a student’s interests lie in music, sports, theater, debate, gymnastics, art, creative writing, or public service – we equally encourage our students to participate in any activity that they enjoy and identify with. We don’t take any particular stance on which activities those should be, or treat certain types of activities with higher moral import than others.

What is your school’s approach to sex education?

As our students enter puberty, they naturally become interested in their changing bodies. LePort Schools does not offer sex education as a formal or mandatory part of its curriculum. We do teach biology, including the reproductive differences among different species. Sometimes, depending on parent demand, we may offer a voluntary sex education class to interested students.

What is your school’s approach to physical education?

At LePort, we encourage a unity of mind and body in our students. We want our students to succeed in the classroom, and also to take care of themselves physically, succeeding in outside activities such as sports. We certainly don’t believe in the popular dichotomy between “jocks” and “nerds”!Although LePort does not currently offer team sports as a formal program, we integrate physical activity into the school day, and take it as an opportunity to teach life lessons.Our elementary and junior high teachers actively take part in daily recess with the students, organizing competitive games, and taking part along with the children. Students shoot hoops, play dodge ball, engage in impromptu gymnastics, play with hula-hoops or stage friendly races around the playground. We invite you to observe at recess in our elementary program: what you’ll see will be children more active, more engaged than in most traditional PE program. And our active recess happens every day, as against the 1-2 times per week schedule of typical PE programs at most schools. We find that this is an excellent opportunity to model values like sportsmanship and teamwork – to gently coach the student who is acting the sore loser or the braggart winner, and to help navigate the many tricky social issues that may arise in any group activity. And, of course, it is an important opportunity for our students to stay active and fit on a daily basis.Throughout the years, LePort has accommodated students from whom competitive sports were of major importance. For instance, a student who is involved in high-level competitive ice-skating might need a revised course schedule in order to balance the time-commitment required by the sport, without sacrificing academic studies.

What is your school’s approach to bullying?

Because LePort maintains such a small and intimate environment, and because our teachers are trained to be extremely proactive with regard to any issues of any kind that may arise with individual students (including interpersonal issues), it is extremely rare that an interaction among our students would rise to the level of what we would call bullying.The second our teachers notice an interpersonal issue between students, no matter how small, they will take action. First, they act to gather all available information – they will bring the issue up in a “student issues” or other meeting, to determine whether other teachers have noticed anything similar. They will pool information and have a discussion about what they think is underlying the interaction that they have noticed. They will then strategize about how to address it with the students, discuss their conclusions with parents and revise accordingly and, as a team, adopt a certain course of action. Depending on the issue, the teachers may choose to respond in a variety of ways. Possibly it may be a case where the teacher will pull one or both students aside and talk to them one on one. If so, the teacher is not lecturing to the student or doling out punishments, but trying to understand why he has behaved in the way he did, and help him to see the consequences of his actions. If the issue becomes more serious, or even if it doesn’t, it is likely that one or more teachers will actively communicate with the parents of both students, to keep them in the loop about the issue and let them know how we will be handling it in school.While our top priority is the safety and well-being of the child being bullied, it’s important to remember that a child with a tendency to bully needs just as much support and coaching as the child who is being victimized, so that he doesn’t become entrenched in that pattern. We focus on both students. We try to help the one child see that he will have healthier and more fulfilling friendships if he treats others with respect. And we try to develop in the other child a healthy sense of respect and confidence, as we strategize with him about how to most effectively respond and stand up for himself in a situation where he feels victimized.

What do you think about standardized tests?

At LePort, we try to always remember that tests are a tool to measure knowledge and performance. Tests are not an end in themselves. Actionable, applied knowledge is the goal, not merely a score on a test.With that in mind, every year our students in 3rd through 8th grade complete McGraw Hill’s Terra Nova CTBS (Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills), one of the most widely used nationally administered tests. CTBS and similar standardized tests (e.g., CAT, or California Achievement Test) provide us as educators, and you as parents, with statistical data comparing your child’s performance in Reading, Language, and Mathematics with other children’s across the nation. On average, our students score around the 90th percentile.Paradoxically, we believe one reason for such an impressive overall performance is our program does not actually give much weight to such standardized measures. Our strategy at LePort is not to “teach to the test”. Rather than stressing test scores as an end in themselves, we work to instill, through exciting academic content and engaging motivated teaching, a true joy for learning. Our goal as educators is not to create master bubblers on multiple-choice exams. Rather, we measure our success by whether our students are able to grasp the crucial knowledge and to develop in themselves the effective thinking skills and strong character that will aid in their enjoying life to the fullest. We believe the result of our strategy and goal – in conjunction with our invaluable partnership with caring, active parents – is knowledgeable children who can think clearly, who can write confidently, and who tackle new challenges with excitement.In other words, although on average our students score very high on standardized tests, we do not feel that such tests are a very effective measurement tool for academic success. Specifically, they do not do a good enough job of testing true understanding of material or logical reasoning. Mostly what they test is short-term memory. For this reason, we do not make standardized tests a big focus at LePort.In each subject, we regularly assess our students’ knowledge and understanding with reviews, quizzes, and tests of our own. But these assessments are never multiple choice, and often they require students to use their knowledge to solve unique problems and to offer explanations in their own words, thus ensuring they truly know what they know.

What is your stand on evolution vs. creationism?

LePort Schools is a secular school, and we do not take any religious positions. We do teach biology to our older students. As part of the class, our junior high students learn a great deal of observational, factual knowledge that Charles Darwin built on in developing his theory of evolution. The theory of evolution itself would come at the high school level, building on this earlier evidence.

General School Processes

Do you offer hot lunches?

We offer a hot lunch program at most of our campuses, if demand is sufficient. Sometimes, a smaller campus may not offer hot lunches;  when a campus just opens, it may also be a while before the enrollment grows sufficiently to enable us to offer a hot lunch. Our hot lunch programs use high quality external vendors, usually with online menus. Families can choose whether and when to participate, and what particular meals to select. Our partners focus on healthy eating, and we tailor our menus to remove foods we have found have a negative impact on our students (such as sugary deserts or carbonated sugary soft drinks, which are not welcome in our Montessori programs).

How do you handle food allergies?

LePort Schools works cooperative with parents to accommodate students with anaphylactic allergies. Our Montessori programs through primary (age six) provide a NUT-FREE classroom environment. We have also developed a proactive anaphylactic allergy policy, which helps parents and school to work together and to ensure the safety of children with food allergies while they are in our care. Click here to download the allergy policy for our Montessori program (toddler – 3rd grade), as well as the nutrition and allergy form, which each parent completes prior to the start of school.

What extended care schedules do you offer?

Our extended care schedules vary from campus to campus. Please request the application from the campus of your choice to get more detailed information. In general, though, we offer care from 7 am to 6 pm at most of our campuses.

How do you communicate with families during the school year?

At LePort, we believe in regular, open communication with our families. This begins with our “open door policy”: you are always invited to come and observe classes at our school. We also believe in both regular, structured communication, and frequent, informal communication.To prevent cluttering your inboxes and minds, we typically send out our regular family communications every Tuesday; they are therefore called the “Tuesday Emails” and “Tuesday Envelopes” (which consist of electronic and paper copies, respectively). They serve two purposes: to keep you abreast of any current news and upcoming events, and to share with you what your child has been working on.For other day-to-day, informal communications, our teachers will e-mail you. And you are of course very welcome to e-mail them yourself anytime. We are also available informally as you pick up your child after school: our teachers typically wait outside with the students, and are happy to answer any quick questions you have or to set up longer meetings.We also have biannual parent-teacher meetings, where we meet with you one-on-one to review your child’s progress. At times, we may call you for an interim in-person meeting to discuss any issues that cannot be addressed via e-mail or over the phone.Finally, we hold regular parent education evenings throughout the year, where we share information about our curriculum. We strongly advise you to attend these events: the more you know about what we do, the more we can work together to provide your child with the best education possible.

Are your deposits refundable? Is tuition refundable?

We require 30 days written notice to withdraw your child from school. We will apply your child’s pre-paid last month of tuition toward that withdrawal period. No refunds are available for withdrawals after March 31st. See your school’s specific application form for more detailed information.

Do you contribute to charitable causes?

Although we greatly appreciate and applaud many different causes that LePort families, students, teachers and vendors take part in, as a company we currently focus our community and charitable efforts on giving financial aid to students who cannot otherwise attend our schools.

Why is there a photo waiver on the enrollment application?

In our Montessori classrooms, photos are an essential communication tool for teachers, parents, and staff throughout the school year. A good portion of learning in Montessori happens as children work with the Montessori materials, such as tracing Sandpaper Letters or building with materials such as the Pink Tower or Brown Stair. Much of what infants, toddlers and preschoolers accomplish in Montessori does not result in a tangible product that can be taken home or saved by the teacher but rather a physical product that can only be observed in real time. Additionally, each student works at his own pace on his own chosen materials, so the whole class is not working on the same lesson at the same time like at other preschools. In order to better document each child’s progress and accomplishments, we have found that taking photos helps teachers keep a more detailed report on each student’s progress, rather than writing up simple summaries. Additionally, capturing these moments to share them with parents has become essential in giving you an accurate “window into the classroom” so you can be a part of your child’s day at LePort even while you’re not here.
We regularly hear from parents about how much they appreciate receiving these photos from the teachers. Photos help prompt parents with talking points about their children’s day, which is important because many students (especially the very young) don’t always articulate what they did at school or what they are learning. So to help parents understand the types of things their children are doing and learning, we share classroom photos in our campus-specific, closed Facebook groups, and send photos home via email. This helps you understand what happens in the classroom and gives you a point of reference when discussing you child’s progress with his teachers. In order to take these photos, we need a photo waiver signed by each student’s parent(s), which is why we include it on the enrollment application.

How do you use the photos you take beyond sharing them with enrolled parents?

Photos are a key element we use to give parents a glimpse into our programs, our classrooms, and the different activities LePort students are offered or get to experience. We select photos that showcase just how special a place LePort is and share them with families in a variety of ways, from presentations we give at parent education events to direct mail pieces and sometimes post a few on our public Facebook pages. When we utilize photos as part of our outreach communications or marketing, we ensure that none of the child’s personal information is disclosed (e.g., name, classroom). We do not give permission to any third parties to use any of our photos. We are also diligent in monitoring the use of our photos across all of our media, even the private Facebook groups of each campus community. If, as a parent, you notice something inappropriate, please do contact us. We take very seriously how our students are portrayed and are sensitive to any possible inferences that may be inappropriate or controversial.

What if we want to opt out of the photo waiver policy?

Because photos are an essential communications tool between teachers and parents, we do not offer a general option to opt out of the photo waiver. Consistency in this policy ensures that that each child may fully participate in all of LePort’s educational and social activities. In the classroom, as photos are taken of students working diligently on their lessons, an “opted out” child would have to be required to stop what he is doing and be removed from the area so he wouldn’t be in any of those photos. It is unfair to the child and goes against our mission to interrupt him when working diligently with focus and concentration during his key learning time. Additionally, photos are often taken during group activities. Most parents appreciate having pictures of their children with their friends doing fun things in school and on field trips, and it gives parents a chance to see what their child experienced that day. Again, if a child were “opted out,” such photos would be impossible to take during group activities without removing that child from the group and/or the activity, which is disruptive to the group and unfair to that “opted out” child.
(We do recognize that, in very rare circumstances, it may be necessary to not take individual photos of a child (e.g., the child of an undercover police officer), or to not use these photos in printed collateral (e.g., a child actor who has a contract prohibiting her photo to be used outside of the agreement with her agent). If your child falls into one of these categories where a photograph would threaten their safety or violate a contract you have otherwise signed, please approach your campus team prior to enrolling your child, so we can discuss your options.)

General School Processes: Vaccinations

What is the vaccination policy at LePort?

What is the purpose of your vaccination policy at LePort?

In a school setting, especially one where infants are enrolled, it is important to maintain a high vaccination rate to protect those children too young to be fully vaccinated or those who, for health reasons, cannot be vaccinated.

The purpose of LePort’s vaccination policy is to maintain the highest possible rate of vaccinated children in order to maximize “herd immunity”, while respecting our legal obligation (where applicable) to accommodate families who choose not to vaccinate their children.

Why is the vaccination policy so strict?

In recent years, there have been notable increases in cases of communicable illnesses preventable by vaccines, such as measles and whooping cough. Many of these diseases present a life-threatening risk to infants, children with compromised immune systems, staff, pregnant women, those with serious health conditions, and senior citizens.

We believe that it is our responsibility to protect the LePort community from such illnesses, and that doing so requires a clear and enforced immunization policy. In addition, for the safety of everyone involved, many states have laws encouraging or mandating schools to maintain strict vaccination requirements. For instance, in California, Senate Bill 277 has been enacted effective 1/1/2016 to require the adoption of proactive vaccination rates. (Additional information on this law is available at www.shotsforschool.org.)

Do you allow children who are not fully vaccinated, according to the state schedule, to attend LePort?

Some children cannot receive certain vaccinations due to life-threatening allergies, or for other health reasons. We allow medical exemptions to the extent permissible by law. Our allowance of personal belief exemptions varies by state. In California, no school, including LePort, is legally permitted to enroll students who are not vaccinated according to the state vaccination schedule, unless the child has a medical exemption on file with the governing authority. In other states, parents or guardians may request that their child receive an exemption from LePort’s vaccination requirements and we do our best to accommodate such exemptions, as long as we are well within acceptable herd immunity rates (92% and above for most vaccinations).

What percentage of non-vaccinated children are enrolled in your schools?

As of January 2015, our vaccination rate for standardly accepted disease categories across all (and each) of our schools is over 98%. [Children count as vaccinated if they are up-to-date on their vaccination schedule, even if they have not yet completed the full childhood vaccination schedule.]

Note that infants cannot be vaccinated against some illnesses until they reach the recommended age, which makes it important for older children to be vaccinated to maintain the proper “herd immunity.”

What is the process of applying for an exemption from the need to vaccinate my child?

In order to achieve our goal of maximizing “herd immunity”, we are very reluctant to offer exemptions except in cases required by law. Families who choose to enroll their children at one of our schools without complete vaccinations will need to submit the following:

  • any paperwork required by state law for exemptions
  • an affidavit documenting the non-vaccinated status
  • a letter from a doctor indicating that the parents have been informed of the risks of forgoing vaccination
  • a signed copy of LePort Schools Immunization Policy

What would LePort do in the case of an outbreak?

In the event of an outbreak of any vaccine-preventable communicable disease, at our school, we would immediately notify parents by posting notices on your child’s classroom door and contacting parents via phone or email. Please note that for any child that has not received his/her vaccinations and/or has opted out of vaccinations against this disease, we would require that he/she be immediately picked up from school as a precaution. The child would need to remain at home until the incubation and infection transmission period has passed. Since infants may not yet be immunized, parents must keep them at home, for the safety of their child and other children in the school.

In the event of an outbreak of a communicable disease in the community, we will require non-vaccinated children to stay home if a vaccine-preventable disease is present in our community and they are not vaccinated against it. For schools that include an infant program, we may ask such children to stay home even if the disease cases are limited to the broader community; for schools that start at the toddler level, we may choose to only require such children to stay home if a member of our school community becomes infected.

During such absences, the tuition for the non-vaccinated child must continue to be paid to keep the enrollment spot; non-payment of tuition may lead to dis-enrollment.

Do you share vaccination information with enrolled families?

We track the vaccination status of each child, and have ready access to all children’s vaccination status, so we may immediately request their pick-up from school should an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease occur. The vaccination status of individual children is kept strictly confidential due to HIPAA regulations. Enrolled parents may, at any time, request to know the overall school’s percentage of non-vaccinated children at any LePort location.

Where can I get information on the recommended or required vaccination schedule in my state?

We recommend that you consult your pediatrician for this information.

My child has a personal belief exemption. When will he have to meet the California immunization schedule requirements?

Children who have valid personal belief exemptions on file before January 1, 2016, do not have to meet California’s age-appropriate immunization requirements until they reach the next grade span. The law defines grade spans as the following: birth through preschool; kindergarten through 6th grade; 7th through 12th grade. When the child moves to the next grade span, he or she will have to meet all age-appropriate immunization requirements.

For example, a child in his kindergarten year during the 2015-2016 school year with a personal belief exemption on file from before 2016 will not have to be up to date on his vaccinations, according to the California schedule, until he begins 7th grade.

What happens to my personal belief exemption if I transfer from one school in California to another?

According to our counsel’s reading of the law, personal belief exemptions can be transferred between childcare facilities and schools in California, both within and across school districts, and different California schools. That said, however, different schools may have different requirements and schools may ask a child to be up-to-date on his vaccinations upon his initial enrollment.

Personal belief exemptions from another state or country are not valid in California.

Admissions

Do you offer school tours?

Yes, we do. Please contact us online or call the campus you are considering and we will be happy to set up a tour for you. Tours are available year-round.

Can I observe your school in action before I decide to enroll my child?

Absolutely: we invite you to come back after your initial tour and spend an hour or a day with us. We ask that you give at least a week’s notice: it is important that we spread out our observers, so that they do not interfere with our classroom operations.

Can my child join LePort mid-year?

Yes, we accept enrollments throughout the year, space permitting, in all of our programs.

Can my child join LePort in 2nd grade, or in 6th grade—that is, in the middle of your program?

Yes, we accept children into all grades, space permitting. However, we do open enrollment to existing students prior to inviting outside families. As many of our classes fill up early, we do encourage you to consider LePort from preschool onward to ensure we will have space to accommodate your child. Please contact us, so we can review your individual situation.

How do you assess whether LePort is a good fit for my child?

We generally do not require assessments of children ages four or younger. However, we do encourage you to proactively let us know of any concerns you may have for your child, or any special needs you are aware of, so we can discuss placement option. Older primary children entering late in the 2nd year or directly into the 3rd year of our primary program are required to come in for a brief assessment, which often consists of some one-on-one time with a teacher, as well as participation in some individual and group classroom activities, usually over the course of 1-3 hours. For grades 1-3 we similarly conduct an in-class, informal assessment: our classroom teacher will spend time with your child, and will have him work with different Montessori materials and exercises to understand where he fits academically and personally within our multi-age classroom; depending on the school and child, we may invite her to visit for a half day or a full day, too. For grades 4-8, we conduct a detailed one-on-one assessment, which includes an interview of your child with our Head of School, as well as written assessments. We also request that your child bring in work examples from his current school, and that you submit any past report cards or standardized tests. In this way, we can ensure the right placement for your child, and suggest any supplemental tutoring that may be needed to integrate him smoothly into our school. We also request that your child spend a full orientation day with us, so that your child will feel comfortable on his first day of school.

Do you offer scholarships?

LePort Schools does indeed have a financial aid program. Any student of any age who meets LePort’s acceptance criteria may apply for financial aid. Please click here for more information on our financial aid program, as well as details on how to apply.

Do you enroll international students?

Yes, we do enroll international students in our private school program (1st – 8th grade) as well as for our elementary and junior high summer camp program. When you inquire with our campuses, please let them know you are interested in enrolling an international student, and whether you are contacting us from abroad. That way, we can modify our process to suit your needs, for example, by inviting you for a Skype conference call with our Head of School, instead of coming in for a tour, and by conducting the assessment process via email exchange and Skype, instead of in person. In addition, once your child is admitted to LePort, we will work with you to complete the materials you need to apply for a student visa, as LePort Schools is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant alien students.

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