You’ve probably heard intimidating stories about the process of moving from preschool to kindergarten, especially in a competitive city like New York. Some parents feel like (and focus on) the first day of their child’s preschool as just the beginning. Yet, many parents are already zeroing in on three years ahead with a focus on kindergarten.  What is the best school for my child? Will he or she do well enough, academically, to get in there? This is the only place for him or her! We have to get them in! If any of these questions or statements sound familiar, the below will hopefully allay concerns and shed some light on what parents may anticipate as a stressful exmissions process.

It’s not just New York City

In big cities like San Francisco, Boston and New York, kindergarten and private school elementary admission often becomes an overwhelming prospect. With dozens of applicants for every available spot in some cases, getting your child into what you consider a good kindergarten program and grade school is viewed as tough at best; admission to what you consider a top school seems nearly impossible.

What to look for in an exmissions offerings?

Identify a school and staff that understands, values and promotes the premise that each child is unique and has his/her own learning style and needs. Before any educator can help your child (and you) even begin delving into the ideal school for the post-preschooler, they should be taking great care and effort to have learned about each student. This includes identifying his/her strengths, understanding his/her disposition, and truly grasping his/her academic abilities.

When do you start?

Navigating the search and selection of public and private schools does not need to begin until early spring of your child’s 3s year. If people are stressing out on the playground any earlier, walk away and know that you have time to relax before your initial search begins. No matter what age your child enters a preschool program, the staff and school director will be learning about your child and your family, making notes as to schools that they feel could be a great fit. An early spring meeting with the school exmissions director will be one of many as you move through entire kindergarten admissions process together.  As you visit and learn more about schools, you will gain clarity on what you as a parent feel is important in a school for your child and family. When it’s finally time for your preschooler to spread his/her wings, you should feel confident and comfortable in having selected an aptly-fitting educational environment in which your child to continue to flourish in every area of development; social, emotional, physical and academical.

How to choose the right primary school?

Having so many options of school types is one of the greatest and worst things about living in a metropolitan area.  Choices can be empowering but can also feel overwhelming. Families have a plethora of offerings from single sex to traditional, progressive to art-based and religious schools.  in short, schools that best match their child’s learning style and abilities with parents’ academic objectives. Make sure you cast a wide net, visit as many schools as you can, and whittle down your list based on what feels right.

What happens if my child doesn’t get in to the school we wanted?

If you and the professional helping you in your search go about the process in a thoughtful way, you should find yourself in a good position at the end of the admissions process where there are a few schools that you feel could be wonderful for your child and family.  Also, by casting a wide net and applying to a variety of schools, it would be unlikely to be turned away from all your choices. In a city like NY, if you are only looking at private school options, you should be applying to between 8 to 10 schools.  You should definitely have your top 3, but you should assume that your top 3 are probably the top 3 schools for many families. This is the part of the process where your school director or exmissions professional really gets to work, calling schools on your child’s behalf and ensuring them why accepting your particular child would be a great fit for their school.  If you don’t initial get accepted to one of your top 3 schools, try not to panic.  First of all, if a school does not accept your child it might simply be because they needed to fill more girl spaces and your child is a boy.  It could be because there were a ton of siblings and legacy children applying that year, or it could be because, for whatever reason, they simply didn’t think it was the right fit.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t reapply sometime in the future, but probably you will accept a spot at a different school that might not have been one of your top 3 choices and once there, realize it is the perfect school after all.  If applying to public schools, you are guaranteed a spot at your zoned schools, however, there are many other public school alternatives such as; magnet schools, charter schools, dual language programs, specialty schools (music, gifted programs).  Again, you and your current emissions director should be communicating through the process and be helping you form a list that makes sense and will give you the best opportunity to receive a placement that you are happy with.

Where do we stand on exmissions?

At Columbus Pre-School, as educators and parents ourselves, we understand the stress that can come with the thought of kindergarten admissions.  We believe in offering support to the families of our kindergarten-ready classes, understanding that there are many different avenues to explore for kindergarten and beyond in New York City. This is not a square peg, round hole process. We are partners in the process from beginning to end, holding your hand the whole way and ‘talking you off the ledge’ should you find yourself falling victim to the crazy feelings that this process can evoke.

Whether opting for public or private school, we provide our families access to resources like panels of former school families, seminars conducted by educational consultants, and many one-on-one meetings, phone calls and yes, sometimes hug of comfort from our experienced school director. Together, we make sure that after our students take off into the wild blue yonder, they land gently in the best place for him or her.