Next up in City Mom versus Suburban Mom, we talk schools—specifically, kindergarten…
#1. Where will your child go to kindergarten in the fall?
City Mom: We aren’t 100% sure. We’re waitlisted at our zoned elementary school and we are number 124 on the list! They say there is a lot of movement between now and the start of the year but we have been warned that some people just won’t get a spot at this specific school. We sent three private school applications in, too, just to ensure we had good placements for this coming year—kindergarten counts! We heard back from those schools in early March and committed to one.
Suburban Mom: The school down the street! Where else would we go? All kidding aside—we moved here for the schools and, so far, are thrilled with what we’ve seen. While registering was more complicated than buying the house—we had to prove residency multiple times, meet with a school administrator and fill out tons of paperwork plus come to several in-person orientations, meet and greets and other events, it was worth it. No stress now!
#2. When did you start looking at kindergarten schools?
City Mom: This is my first kid, so I started hearing buzz about touring and researching schools and figuring out the G&T testing a few years ago; probably right around the time she started in the 2s program at her preschool. We started looking at the spring of 2s so we had a lot of time. Some of my friends waited until the fall of preK/4s—and were actually told they were too late for some of the private schools. Lots of city private schools close applications as early as the day after Labor Day, which I hadn’t realized.
Suburban Mom: About two years ago we started to seriously consider making a move to the suburbs. For us, schools were number one—we were fine with a longer commute or higher prices to ensure our kids were in a district that felt right. We explored about eight or 10 suburbs that all had high performing but really unique schools—schools with language immersion, for example, or tons of parent involvement or a STEAM approach. When we found a school district that felt perfect for us, we buckled down and started searching.
#3. How many schools did you tour?
City Mom: We researched for a while and narrowed our list down to six private schools. Ultimately, we only toured three but wound up applying to all of them because it’s so competitive. We haven’t toured our zoned elementary school because they don’t give tours until the spring. We play in the school’s playground on the weekends but it’s hard to get a sense of the community and who actually attends. If public school becomes our only choice then we will have to trust its good reputation that our child will be fine there but I sure would like to see what it looks like!
Suburban Mom: Well…none. We did our homework, talked to parents and actually “crashed” a spring carnival at the school my kids are now going to attend. I guess we looked like we belonged! We’ve always felt really connected to the community since our first tour, and the schools were the piece that pushed us over the edge.
#4. How will your child(ren) get to school every day?
City Mom: If we get into our local public school, we can walk, which would be amazing. If not, we’ll probably take the subway but honestly, I’m sure many Ubers are in our future…mornings with three kids is tricky!
Suburban Mom: The bus picks them up right on the corner, picking up kids through fifth grade. Easy!
#5. What was the most stressful part of the kindergarten entry process?
City Mom: Not knowing if we’d get a spot at our zoned school. It’s a great school and we moved to this neighborhood specifically for that school. It’s frustrating to be in limbo, but I know it’s just the way it goes in the city. I just hope they don’t do another rezoning because we are right on the line and I don’t want to have any issues with getting my other children into that school! I heard this happened to many families last year.
Suburban Mom: Pulling all of the paperwork together and hoping we made the right decision about where to move!
#6. What advice would you give families considering kindergarten options?
City Mom: Go with your gut—you know your child! Also, be flexible—cast a wide net and search until you find a few options you’re excited about. If you are coming from a really nurturing preschool know that starting at a New York public elementary school is very different!
Suburban Mom: This will be your community for the next 13-plus years—and that matters. Make sure you like the parents and get the right vibe when you’re in and around the school.
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