City Mom vs. Suburban Mom: Time for Kindergarten

Apr 7, 2023

Next up in City Mom versus Suburban Mom, we talk about schools—specifically, kindergarten in the city vs. suburbs. 

#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’re number 124 on the list. They say there is a lot of movement between now and the start of the year, but we’ve 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. We heard back from those schools in early March and committed to one. Going to kindergarten is competitive!

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. We always wanted to be intentional when choosing a school for our kids. While registering was more complicated than buying the house—we had to prove residency multiple times, meet with a school administrator, 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! That, for us, was a big perk to kindergarten in the city vs. suburbs. 

#2. When did you start looking at kindergarten schools?

City Mom: This is our first child, so I started hearing buzz about choosing a school, 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 told they were too late for some of the private schools. Many 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 seriously considering moving to the suburbs. The right school district was number one—we were fine with a longer commute to ensure our kids were in a district that felt right. We explored about eight or 10 suburbs with unique, high-performing 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 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 without that first-hand experience. 

Suburban Mom: 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 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 I’m sure many Ubers are in our future…mornings with three kids are tricky, so we’ve ensured all of our options are easy to get to, one way or another. 

Suburban Mom: The bus picks them up right on the corner, picking up kindergarten 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 how 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 to kindergarten at that school! I heard this happened to many families last year.

Suburban Mom: Pulling all the paperwork together and hoping we made the right decision about where to move! Choosing a school takes a lot of dedication, and you want it to be worth it since your kids will spend so much time there.

#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 nurturing preschool, know that going to kindergarten at a New York public elementary school is very different. 

Suburban Mom: When choosing a school, remember that this will be your community for the next 13-plus years—and that matters. Make you like the parents and get the right vibe when you’re in and around the school.

There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out – and how do you decide on kindergarten in the city vs. suburbs? You don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all — including picking which suburbs and cities might be best for your kindergartener. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.

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