Believe it or not, fall (and a new school year) is a lot closer than we think. In many cities across the country, getting into preschool has become as competitive (and stress inducing) as getting into college! So we sat down with Wendy Levey, a consultant based in NYC who specializes in helping families find the best school for their children. Here are Wendy’s top tips for preparing for the preschool selection process:
Do your research.
Research different school philosophies and types the spring before you are applying to school: play based, traditional, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, religious, part of an on-going school, stand-alone preschool, coop, progressive, day care, language immersion..the list goes on.
When researching, look at each school’s website and start acquainting yourself with the different learning styles + philosophies to see how they relate to your own family values. It’s also helpful to talk to other families in the schools you are interested in to find out what they like and don’t like about their school. Make sure to speak with more than one family—everyone has a different experience!
And maybe most important, make sure you and your partner are on the same page of school philosophy + learning style.
Organize yourself with files, electronic or real, for each school you are interested in and add to this as you write notes, go on tours, hear stories, meet people who sent their children to that school, read articles etc. Start a binder or make folders electronically for the information. Keep track of who you speak to and specific dates that relate to tours, interviews, applications, contracts and so on.
Come to tours with stationary with you + your child’s name across the top in simple block letters and a photo of your child. Writing notes after each tour, interview and visit is important and you want to be sure the school puts it in the correct file. When it comes to photographs, stay away from professional photos and instead opt for a recent 4 X 6 photo that shows your child’s face clearly. During the pandemic, many schools in NYC have required a video of your child, so that they have a better idea of who your child is in quiet moments—reading, building, drawing, playing or doing large motor activities, like running, riding a trike or throwing a ball.
Know what you want.
Decide whether you want a half day or whole day and a 2, 3 or 5 day a week program. This choice will depend on you + your partners schedules and flexibility, if you have child care help, if you have other children and what their schedules are like, your child’s stamina and what the school trajectory you are looking for looks like. Do you want private school for kindergarten? Do you want Public School? Do you want to stay in the city or move to the suburbs?
Follow the individual school directions for applying: photos, tours, interviews and so on. One of the simplest ways to make a good impression is to follow directions and make tours/interviews work.