Pre-k Tips, surviving the madness.
Pre-K. This is when one enters the world of going from costly daycare to attempting to secure a spot at an amazing public school- as Brooklyn has some of the best. As the Pre-K offer letter's date looms (end of April) here in NYC some mamas are feeling the stress. I've been there. When it came to getting into a public pre-k we, like everyone else, did the lottery, and (oh no!) we didn't get into any of the 5 schools we applied for despite living two blocks from our zone school's first pick. On to the waiting list we go.
I had always heard of the stress of trying to get into a public pre-k program in New York.. tough...others parents told me. Nothing prepared me for the stress I felt when my boy didn't get into any schools. I wasn't alone, so many parents applied to more then 10 schools and didn't get in. After two months of looking for other alternatives, as you need to keep going in this process, looking for solutions...we got off the waiting list and into the school we wanted. The good news is every year the schools try to offer more classes. I have heard that the waiting list was less stressful from my pre-k moms last year. My advise to parents who have entered this crazy pre-k application this year is first take a deep breath and educate yourself on this process.
A few tips:
- Join a support group, I know it sounds kind of funny but a fellow mom in the same situation put together a group of moms prior to the pre-k slots being announced. We constantly updated each other on school programs and news. We also met up and strategized and shared tips from seasoned moms who told us how to get on the wait list if we were to not get into a school. This was instrumental to me planning my 'attack' on getting on the waiting list and off.
- Have back up, most pre-k programs are private and expensive. However some private schools will offer a CBO. This is paid for by the DOE. It only goes until 11a.m but is 5 days a week. However, if you can work out a schedule with your partner or a sitter there are many free programs such as the library story times and Parks and Recreation programs your child can attend for the remainder of the day.
- For mothers with babies and pre-k parents apply for programs that are hard to get into such as the YMCA Pre-K program. As soon as you can get over to the Y and fill out the paperwork, it is a a great program and doesn't hurt to put the small deposit down. This program is famously wait listed but once parents find out there kids have gotten into a public pre-k slot a spot opens up in this program.
- Stay in touch. Join a parents group, in Brooklyn there is the HUI and some smaller groups that are usually started by parents in the community. These parent boards are great to hear about schools that you may have never known existed. While searching for a Pre-K solution, I found out about two great programs that were affordable and in my neighborhood just by asking other parents for help.
There are many great sites that support you through the pre-k process, stay tune for tips, posts that will help you through this process:
NYC School Help
Post Updated 3/20/17
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