Parents want the very best for their children, especially when education is involved. If your child is nearing kindergarten age you’re likely already busy looking into schools. This can be an overwhelming and daunting task, especially in a city like New York where there is so much competition for private kindergarten placements.
At Vivvi, our exmissions team is here to support families during the kindergarten admissions process. Below, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know: from the factors that can influence school choice to the application timeline and how Vivvi supports families each step of the way.
Kindergarten Admissions: What Parents Need to Know
In New York, children must be five by September 1 of the year they enter kindergarten for private schools and December 31 for public schools. If a child is due to enter kindergarten in September of a certain year, parents will need to begin the process in the spring of the year before.
Private vs Public vs Charter vs Gifted & Talented Programs
If you’re set on a specific school, you should keep in mind there are many programs both private and public that could be a great fit for your child and you should always keep your options open. Below are the core options available to parents in New York:
- Private schools: There are many highly sought-after private schools in New York City, many of which are ISAAGNY member schools. These schools are run by private entities.
- Public schools: The public schools in New York are governed by the New York City Department of Education. You are eligible for one zoned school depending on your neighborhood. The Department of Education features a list of all zoned schools by address.
- Charter schools: Chartered schools are public schools that are operated independently of the Department of Education under a charter from either the State Board of Regents or the State University of New York. Unlike public schools, their funds are raised through both public and private means.
- Gifted & talented programs: These programs are designed for high-performing students. Children may apply for a gifted and talented program from kindergarten to third grade. These programs operate on an accelerated curriculum that often isn’t offered in private or regular public schools. Changes are being made to the testing process for gifted and talented programs this coming school year and more information will be released by the Department of Education as changes are finalized. Families can also apply to Hunter, which is a public school for intellectually talented and gifted students.
Our Vivvi preschool exmissions team advises parents to keep an open mind while researching potential kindergarten programs. You’d be surprised how many families are set on a specific private school only to realize that the public education system is a better fit for their child’s needs.
Factors That Can Impact School Choice
There are many personal considerations parents should keep in mind when considering a school. These fall into the categories of practical information, the learning environment, parent involvement, and health and safety.
- Cost: The tuition fees for schools can be a major concern for parents. Make sure to review your budget accordingly, as deposits for kindergarten can be substantial; amounts and payment schedules vary by school. If you believe that you’ll need financial aid, make sure that you apply in early September. Private schools want you to have a 13-year budget prepared.
- Student-to-teacher ratio: Consider the classroom size and what the student-to-teacher ratio will be. Does your child need more 1-on-1 support? If so, this factor could influence your decision. Private schools tend to have smaller class sizes than public schools.
- Location: Ask yourself: Are you comfortable with your child taking a school bus or is it important for you to take your child to school? Look at the school’s proximity to public transportation options.
- Legacy and sibling policies: Many private schools have legacy and/or sibling admission policies. These will differ between schools, but it is a factor that is worth researching before applying.
- Grade availability: Another consideration is whether parents want their child to attend a K-5, K-8, or K-12 school. Some parents would like the option of changing school environments as their children get older.
The Learning Environment
Understanding a school’s philosophy is another important consideration to make when shortlisting kindergarten options.
Ask yourself whether it’s important that the school is more traditional (e.g. students sit at desks, use workbooks for learning, have a uniform code) or more progressive (e.g. are less formal, have a more hands-on approach to learning). Do you want to send your child to a school that has a religious component? Or, are you looking for a school that offers mixed-gender classes?
Keep in mind whether the learning environment matches your child’s learning style and interests. Your child’s teachers can provide insight into what kind of learner your child is. Perhaps a school that offers multiple extra-curricular activities such as a dual-language program or music classes would be a better fit for your child than one that offers sports opportunities.
Ask yourself how involved you want to be in the school community. Understanding whether there are volunteering opportunities and how often parent-teacher conferences will be held can sway your decision.
If you are a parent that appreciates an open-door policy when it comes to asking questions, inquire about the school’s policies around getting in touch with kindergarten teachers and the head of school. Additionally, some schools expect parents to volunteer their time. If this is something that you wouldn’t be able to commit to, it is important to note this before applying.
Health and Safety
Make sure you inquire about a school’s health and safety policies and procedures. Some parents feel more comfortable knowing the school has an on-site nurse or knowing the teachers are trained in first-aid and CPR. Parents might want to ask about allergy and vaccine policies.
In the current world climate, it is also important to check what the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements are and whether they have a virtual learning plan in place in the event of another shutdown.
The Vivvi Exmission Process: What to Expect
Once you are ready to begin the exmission process, you will meet with someone from our exmissions team. During these meetings, we will go through your thoughts about what schools are appealing to you and the research you have done on these schools.
The exmissions advisor or head of school provides parents with realistic support and will provide information on what kind of learner your child is as well as their interests and strengths. Based on these insights, parents will have more information to inform their decisions on which schools may be the best fit for their child.
The Kindergarten Admissions Timeline
For public schools, the application deadline is not yet set in stone but more information will be available on the NYC Department of Education website in due course. Parents looking to send their child to a local public school are advised to create an account with MySchools and apply to their zoned school through that platform. To enter kindergarten in a public school, children must be 5 by December 31st of the year they are to attend kindergarten.
Private schools, however, have a different admissions timeline. If your child is due to start kindergarten next year (September 2022), this is the timeline you need to follow:
- Researching Schools: In March of 2021, parents can begin researching various schools and attending spring open houses of those schools that seem like a match for your family.
- Meeting with Vivvi’s Exmission Team: By the summer, you should be narrowing down your list of schools and organizing a meeting with Vivvi’s exmission team to review school choices.
- Submit Applications: In September, parents should begin completing and submitting applications to their preferred schools. Keep in mind application submission deadlines will vary between schools, so be vigilant in checking these deadlines on each school’s website.
- Submission of School Report: A core element of all kindergarten admission applications will be a school report, often a standard ISAAGNY report. This school report is filled out by your child’s head teacher at Vivvi and reviewed internally before our team submits it to private schools. The report is confidential and is only shared with the schools to which your family is applying. The purpose of the school report is to provide admissions teams with a sense of who your child is in the classroom.
- Parent Interviews and Child Visits: Once a school has received an application, the parents and child are invited for a meeting and playdate. Schools invite parents in as an opportunity to gain more information about your family and gauge your interest in the school, so make sure to do your research before attending. For child visits, schools will look for social-emotional development and language skills as your child plays.
- Admissions Results: By mid-February of the following year (2022), families will be notified by schools of admissions results. Parents have one week to accept an offer – while this may seem like a quick turnaround, schools encourage parents to release spots as soon as possible if they aren’t moving forward to accept a school’s offer of admission.
Vivvi: Preparing Your Child For Their Next Step
At Vivvi, we are committed to supporting our families from the minute they sign up for our early learning program to the day they take their next step into the next learning environment for their child. Our team is here to help you navigate and make sense of the preschool exmissions process.
While we can’t guarantee acceptance into your preferred kindergarten, we will do everything in our power to present a clear and accurate picture of who your child is in the classroom environment so that each school will see your child’s unique qualities.
For more information on how to get started with Vivvi’s exmissions process or how to prepare for kindergarten admissions, get in touch with our team today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.