Mark your calendars to jump start your applications for kindergarten admissions to Hunter and NYC independent schools this year at our 4th Annual Private School Admissions Panel on Tuesday, August 26th @ 6:30 pm. Kindergarten is the main entry point for independent schools and the only time kids can enter Hunter Elementary School (entrance for the high school is in 7th grade.) There are many new changes to the independent school application process this year (can you say brand new AABL test?) and we will have a representative from the Electronic Records Bureau (ERB) on the panel to discuss them and answer your questions. If you have a four year old who will be attending kindergarten in 2015 this panel is for you. Admission directors will give an overview of the application process - what to do and when to do it. Be sure to register and get your tickets early!
Our 3rd Annual Admission Panel took place last Tuesday in Harlem. Admission Directors from Hunter College Elementary School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, The Calhoun School and St. Bernard's School were on hand to answer questions and share some 'words of wisdom' on navigating the Hunter and private school admission process. Rachel Christmas Derrick, former Director of Development Communications & Publications at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Senior Writer at the Rockefeller Foundation, provides a great summary of the discussion.
Jump-Starting the School Admissions Process for Your Child
by Rachel Christmas Derrick
Do stories of parents applying to seven or ten different schools keep you up at night? Does the thought of filling out all those applications make you want to pull the covers over your head each morning? Does the prospect of writing the essays and parent statements seem as daunting as applying to college or for a new job?
Take a deep breath and prepare to be pleasantly surprised: Applying to schools for your child doesn’t have to be an ordeal. In fact, with some planning, organization, and guidance, exploring how you and others see your child and your family can actually be big fun.
Here are some tips to help you jump-start the school admissions process:
- Do your homework! School websites can give you a sense of what makes each educational environment different from the rest.
- Don’t apply to a school simply because everyone you know is applying or it’s on some Top Ten list. Remember, there are lots of excellent schools out there—and you’ve never heard of many of them.
- See if your family’s values match those of the school. For instance, do you believe that allowing learning to be incidental to having fun can be detrimental in the long run? Or do you think that rigorously training a young child in the basics can have a negative impact?
- Keep an open mind. Even if you’re positive you want a co-ed school, for example, consider single-gender schools. If you’re convinced that a progressive education is the way to go, visit a more traditional school or two.
- Consider the neighborhood. If you live in Manhattan, you can certainly send your child to that phenomenal school with the main campus in Riverdale. However, make sure you’re comfortable with what that will mean for play dates, birthday parties, and long bus rides for your young child.
- Once you identify the schools that interest you, attend their tours and open houses. Take detailed notes of your impressions of each school, including the demeanor of teachers and other staff, the classrooms, the cafeteria, gym, and auditorium, the hallway artwork, the outdoor spaces, even the bathrooms.
- Feel free to ask administrators and teachers questions—but not those whose answers could easily be found on their websites.
- As you walk through each school, can you visualize you and your child as part of this community for the next 6, 9, or 13 years? Do teachers look happy? Do students seem engaged? Are children well-supervised?
- Remember, the “best” school is the one that feels right for your child and your family.
- Tailor your application essays or parent statements to each school and explain why YOUR child and YOUR family could be right for THAT particular school. A quick way to turn off an admissions team is to submit a generic essay, one that could be written to any school about any beloved child.
- If you’re applying for financial aid, don’t put down “$0” when asked how much your family can contribute to tuition. Schools are drawn to families who understand that your child’s education is a partnership that both you and the school have a stake in.
- Apply early! (Applications go online at the end of August or right after Labor Day.) Schools like enthusiastic, organized families who plan ahead. Even before you know what schools you’re applying to, get started on your basic essay. You’ll then be ahead of the game when it’s time to adapt it to the questions asked by each school.
Rachel Christmas Derrick is a widely-published writer and editor whose Words Rule! program helps guide families through the essay-writing process for school applications. For details, contact her at WordsRuleCommunications@gmail.com.
After serving three consecutive terms in office (12 years), New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg's time in office will come to an end this year. That means that New Yorkers will be going to the polls this year to elect a new Mayor. WNYC has published an interactive map showing how people voted in the 2009 municipal elections by neighborhood.
In New York, the Mayor controls the schools. The upcoming mayoral elections are crucial in determining education policy for the next 4 years and beyond. Do you know the candidates and their position? More importantly, will you vote?
Update 9.11.2013 -- Yesterday's primary elections had us holding our breath to see if Bill de Blasio would pull off a decisive win with 40% or more of the total vote, avoiding a runoff with William (Bill) Thompson Jr or if we will go through another few weeks of these two candidates trying to best one another before an October 1 runoff election is held. There are still over 19,000 absentee ballots that need to be counted so we may not know the winner for another week. Stay tuned!
There is still time to apply to free community-based organizations (CBOs) pre-k programs for September but spots are limited. CBO programs are publicly funded (free) but are not in schools. All info and application are available online at the DOE Website.
The NYC Department of Education offers Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) programs for eligible 4 year olds who reside in New York City. UPK programs
provide a nurturing environment where children’s natural curiosity is used as a springboard to learn skills that are necessary for success in school. In pre-kindergarten, children learn how to share, take turns and work in groups. They also develop the skills that form the foundation for reading, writing, and mathematics.
All UPK programs are free of charge. Programs can be half-day or full-day; half-day programs may take place in the morning or afternoon. Programs are available at select public schools and at many community-based organizations (CBOs). CBOs are independent groups that contract with the Department of Education to provide pre-kindergarten programs and other services to families.
Starting today, March 5, you can submit a pre-k application in person at an Enrollment Office or online. Applications deadline for public school programs is Thursday, April 5. The Pre-Kindergarten Directory is available at your local borough enrollment office and at the DOE pre-k webpage.
Before you begin the application, review the Pre-K directory and brochure and become familiar with the Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs in your community. Take time to gather as much information as possible; visit schools and attend open house events or tours.
New York's Universal Pre-K program facts:
- All universal pre-k programs are free of charge for children born in 2008 who reside in New York City
- Even though all 4 year olds are eligible, a seat in a public universal pre-k program is not guaranteed
- Programs can be half day (two and a half hours, AM/morning or PM/afternoon) or full day (six hours and twenty minutes)
- Programs are housed in public schools or in community based organizations, and each has their own separate application process. You can find the CBO application directory online here. To apply, contact each site directly to obtain specific information.
- Admissions are NOT first come first serve. Placement offers are made based on standardized admission priorities.
- Public school spots are given by lottery. First preference is given to Zoned students with a verified sibling who will be in grades K-5 in the school in September 2012. Additional admission priorities are detailed in the Pre-K Brochure.
- Applications available online or at a borough enrollment office only. Do not apply by mail. You may apply for a number of schools in one submission and rank those schools by order of preference.
There are information sessions in each borough starting next week. Representatives from the Office of Student Enrollment and the Office of Early Childhood Education will be available at the sessions to answer your questions. The sessions are often crowded so be sure to arrive early.
Pre-Kindergarten Information Sessions
All sessions will be held from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
March 12, 2012
Sunset Park High School
153 35th Street
March 15, 2012
The High School of Fashion Industries
225 West 24th Street
March 19, 2012
Flushing High School
35-01 Union Street
March 20, 2012
P.S. 121 Throop
2750 Throop Avenue
March 22, 2012
P.S. 69 Daniel D. Tompkins
144 Keating Place
Once your application is complete the waiting begins. Notifications are not sent out until early June.
Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday observed by all states. This means your little one has the day off school. While this is a major holiday, Lee's class didn't do anything special to celebrate and I'm not sure if he learned anything about who Dr. King is (at least that's what he told me. I'll have to double check with his teacher). Continue reading "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day For Preschoolers"