You’ve heard all of the rumors; now learn the facts about nursery school admissions in the city. Yes, there’s competition based primarily on supply and demand, but the vast majority of interested families find spots at schools that they like–as long as they do their homework. Here’s yours.
1. Mark Your Calendars
Call it Black Tuesday. The Tuesday after Labor Day is when a number of private nursery schools give out their applications. Miss it, and you won’t be able to get an application to those schools for the year, so do your school research in the prior months (see point 2). And for that special Tuesday itself, we recommend starting at 9am and recruiting a trustworthy family member or friend to help you work the phones and computers, keeping in mind that the popular nursery schools may give out their applications by noon. “Staying organized and on top of those dates and deadlines is really critical,” explains Roxana Reid, educational consultant and founder of Smart City Kids. “Otherwise, you can be out of the process before you even get started.”
Special Tip: Find out beforehand whether a school distributes applications online or over the phone. Also, schools that nominally distribute applications throughout the fall may stop once they’ve given out the number they can handle—a good reason to reach out to them sooner rather than later.
2. Do Your Research
Even before parents read about, talk about, or visit any schools, Gabriella Rowe, head of the Mandell School, recommends coming up with “Must Have,” “Would Be Great But Not Critical,” and “Who Cares?” lists to differentiate the qualities they’re looking for in their child’s education. The lists may evolve, but they’re a good way to remember what’s truly important to you as you go through the process. Once you commence your research, visit the website of every school you’re interested in. Consider buying Victoria Goldman’s The Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools, which profiles over 150 preschools and offers parents advice and tips for narrowing their search. Likewise, the Parents League offers a schools guide, personal consulting, and seminars. If you seek additional advisory services, organizations like Smart City Kids offer private sessions and small group workshops. It’s recommended that parents contact approximately ten schools to get eight applications. And you may want to widen your search a bit if you live in an area densely populated by families, such as the Upper East Side.
Special Tip: Make sure you apply to a range of schools, not just the most popular and sought-after schools in your neighborhood. Better to diversify and increase the odds of getting in somewhere.
3. Weigh Private And Public
Tuitions at some NYC private nursery schools can range between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. For that reason, many families use public school Pre-K programs, which are free but only offered the year before kindergarten. Unlike with kindergarten, the city doesn’t guarantee you a spot in Pre-K. (Visit the Department of Education website for more.) A number of children’s activity centers offer “preschool alternative” programs, which don’t have elaborate admissions, but offer similar activities.
To read the full article at New York Family magazine click here.
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