Imagine that it is already the Tuesday after Labor Day, and you have secured your child’s applications to prospective New York City preschools. Congratulations on successfully completing the first step of the application journey! Here are your next steps for completing the preschool application process…

1. Read the application thoroughly. Follow up with any required materials. Some examples may be a copy of your child’s birth certificate, a photo and/or some thoughts regarding your child. Each school has different items that they request.

2. Watch the deadlines. Schools accept applications within a certain time frame, and they must be complete with all materials and received by the school by those dates.

3. Schedule the tour. Some schools require an application be submitted before the tour, others do not or may offer open houses. Usually both parents, where applicable, are expected to attend. Coordinate your available dates so that you are prepared to call the school to reserve your spot.

4. Take the tour. This is where you will get a real feel for the school. Here are some questions to ask yourself during the tour:
Do you feel welcome?
Is it a warm, inviting atmosphere?
Do the children seem engaged and happy in the classrooms?
Are the teachers engaged with the children?
What are the teacher’s credentials?
Is the school clean and well maintained?
Are the classrooms well supplied with materials?
Are the rooms spacious and well lit?
Are there areas for physical activity such as playgrounds or gyms? Children need to move!
Does the philosophy of the school match the education you want for your child?

Feel free to ask questions. This is your chance to get information that you will need to help make your decision, when the time comes. Remember to smile and show your interest in the school!

5. Playgroups. Each school has a different approach to playgroups. Some allow you to choose the day and time, while others will assign it to you. The playgroups vary from being a few children, a larger group or one-on-one session with a member of the admissions staff. Be relaxed with your child, and follow any information that the school may have shared with you to make the playgroup easier on you and your child. Trust that the staff who is running the playgroup understands the age of the children they are observing. If your child is sick, reschedule. Your child will not be his or herself and you do not want to expose other children to an illness.

There may be a separate parent interview required in addition to the tour and playgroup. Again, each school has their own way of setting up those appointments.

If you feel strongly that a school is a good fit for your child and your family, let them know. It is always helpful during the process to read parents’ comments from their tours and playgroups. Remember, schools want families that are a good fit, and families need to be able to communicate their interest in attending the school. At the end of the process, hopefully you will have found that perfect match.

SHARED by: Nancy Baldaro, Director of Admissions at York Avenue Preschool