Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Did Getting Into Pre-School Become Harder Then Getting A Job ?

I put it off long enough. To be honest I got so overwhelmed by it all I just had to leave it alone for awhile and after talking with my friend Nicole the other day who is currently applying and going through preschools I figured it was time to get back on that horse - finding a preschool for Leo. I’m a bit late into the race as the starting gates opened right after Labor Day. So, I called one preschool, “Oh, sorry the application process is already closed for the fall of 2011.” Ok, on to the next. “We are no longer accepting applications for next year.” Now my mind kicks in with scenario after scenario about being left with PS 72 and their crappy test scores, or in the middle of government housing where they can’t even afford to fix that broken down tricycle that is left outside in their playground, or Leo coming home with gold chains around his neck and his pants held up by his knees. I know what my mind is doing, but I’m already totally hooked. It’s a slippery slope my dear friends. I frantically ring my husband to tell him we’ve been shut out of two preschools already for next year. He calmly asks if we can discuss this when he gets home. Of course, there is nothing he can do and I’m sure my husband thinks I’m on my way to becoming one of those quintessential “Manhattan Parents”.

When he arrived home from work before he even took off his coat he laid down an article in front of me called “Cracking the Kindergarten Code” that was published in the “New York” on November 20, 2005. After reading it a sense of ease came over me. According to the article, “It’s the post-9/11 baby boom. So many more kids were born in the city, and now they’re applying to kindergarten.” Roxana Reid of Smart Kids adds, “Several nursery schools had ten or more children shut out from getting into school altogether last year.”  I myself had just learned about the ERB (an aptitude test used by many kindergartens) to get into kindergarten has grown by almost 40 percent. More families are applying to more schools now. From five or six was the typical number in 2000 is up to applying to nine or ten! Gone are the days of just signing your child up for school. Michele Hernandez, a former admissions official at Dartmouth who runs a college-admissions consulting service stated “Coming from schools like Spence and Dalton can actually be a disadvantage. The admissions staffs at Ivies bend over backwards not to take kids from those schools,” Hernandez contends. “Unless your kid is at or near the top at those schools, your chances of getting in from the top of a mid-level school are probably better,” she says.

I know schools such as Dalton, Collegiate and Horace Mann are not options for us and there are some really good public schools in the city even in our zone along with Charter Schools, Montessori and Waldorf  being an option. With all the extraneous stress I am putting on myself, I know Leo will get into a school that is suited for him and if not the one around the corner, there is always another school for us to look at. His father and I can only observe him to figure out what environment he would best flourish in. Leo is only coming up on two years old and so what if he doesn’t go to a formal school until he’s three, but this is Manhattan and being a bit neurotic is in our nature.

All I can do is diligently take the steps necessary to ensure Leo gets into the best school that is suited for him and within our means. I know stressing is futile and everything works out the way it’s going to be, whether it’s how we wanted it or not. I just don’t want to be left with schools that are subpar and I don’t want him to just learn how to take and pass a test. I’m wondering if other parents around the country go through this or are we just living in the “Manhattan Bubble?”

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