Pre-k Tips, surviving the madness. March 24 2017, 0 Comments


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:

Inside Schools

NYC School Help


Photo: Vogue

Post Updated 3/20/17


Pre -k crazy? Been there. Now try to relax. February 28 2014, 0 Comments


It was only last year around this time when I started to go really crazy. Stress? Work? Nope, pre-k applications. For all the stress and rest less nights and WE still didn't get in it would have been hard for me to hear from another parent to relax however the truth is as one parent to another, try to b.r.e.a.t.h.e. Erica Young, my extraordinary friend who is my sounding board on many of my education quandaries, answers all my questions on education sums it all up with this honest post. And my story by the way is that my son did get in after being on the wait list and if he had not, 3 pre -k openings at very affordable programs (what I pay now for a part time sitter) came up. All in my neighborhood, excellent teachers and up my alley on budget. 



As the pre-k application deadline looms over NYC, I am able to sit back and relax. I am busy dealing with the kindergarten application stress.  :) Ha-ha.  But seriously, sit back and relax. The fact that you are stressing about a pre-k placement shows that you are in fact an active, concerned parent, and you hope little Jimmy goes on to an Ivy League school.  The exact (or any) pre-k won't matter. As parents, WE are the foundation of success. We will read books with our children, we will put our tablets down, and we will read a book in front of them. We will take neighborhood walks and point out letters on signs, and talk to people and demonstrate good manners and how to be social. We will sing songs. And laugh. And be silly. We will teach them how to be people. And that my fellow parents, is the foundation of early childhood education.  

But what about writing?!  And reading?!  Doesn't Jimmy need to be able to do all of these things?! Sure he does. And he will. My daughter is in a public school pre-k this year and I am shocked at the level of expectation. Writing letters. Counting objects. Writing sentences.  Using inventive spelling. She is 4!  Is she doing these things?  Sure.  Some of them. And sometimes she is excited to do her homework, and other days, not so much.  But I have every confidence in the world that when she enters the world, she will have these skills. These things can be taught.  But while I enjoy her time in the classroom, I always keep in mind that it is up to me as a parent to expose her to world. Teach her to respect her peers. Respect her elders. Appreciate art. Enjoy a good book. The basic skills will come in time. And if needed, extra help is always available for these subjects. But I have never seen an after school program for appreciation/respect/etc./you get the idea.  

So parents, let's focus on teaching our children to be amazing people and worry less about what school they are in.  For the record my daughter didn't do a 2s program. Or a 3s class. She hung out with me, and then me and baby brother, and then jumped right into the big, bad, public school. And let me tell you, she is absolutely fine. She can share the crayons.  She can write her name. She can raise her hand.  She can also participate in classroom discussions. She has amazing thoughts and ideas. She is an awesome girl. And so is your child. Don't let a pre-k rejection define who they are. They are yours and you will help define who they are and who they become. You are already doing a great job.  



Erica Young has a MA in Early Childhood Education from New York University. She is currently a stay at home mom to a 4 year old pony loving ballerina and a 2 year old metrocard holding bus driver.
Top Photo: Jo Bradford