Labor Day weekend not only means a close to a long summer vacation, but it also brings excitement to families as they approach a new school year. However, as parents and children look forward to the beginnings of a new academic year, often there is much angst that accompanies the anticipation. Particularly, this is the case if it is the time to enter the process of exmissions, applying to ongoing schools for kindergarten. Indeed, parents worry about to which and how many schools they should apply. They are concerned if their child does poorly on the ERBs or interviews and ask what they should do if their child doesn’t get into any school. Parents commiserate with other parents and exchange information that they have researched or have been told and before long the process becomes a competitive nightmare. One parent said to me that she is so excited about her oldest daughter entering first grade, but so concerned about her son applying to kindergarten. This is a common phenomenon that most New York parents, applying to independent schools, are experiencing.
In fact, a parent recently asked me if I had one piece of advice about this daunting process, what would it be? I thought about this carefully and a number of thoughts came to mind. I’ve noticed that many families have become so engrossed in applying to kindergarten that they lose sight of the best interest of their child and possibly their other children. Four and a half year olds who simply want to enjoy learning and their friends should not be unduly burdened by the rigorous challenges of applying to independent schools. Obviously, the application process cannot be avoided, but what exactly can the parent do to mitigate it for the child.
So my answer would be this. When looking for the appropriate school, make certain the learning environment is the one most suitable for your child’s development. In other words, parents should neither be drawn into a competition to get their child into the “most prestigious” school nor the one that they would have wanted for themselves. Parents should remember the academic career begins in preschool and continues through college; therefore, the critical factor is not the school the child attends, but rather the success the child achieves over time. Almost all New York independent schools have high academic standards and when colleges evaluate students, their accomplishments will be much more important than the specific schools they attended. I promise if you keep your priorities straight and focus on how your child learns best, ultimately they will get into the best schools for them that will lead to a successful and rewarding academic career.
Jennifer Doyle is a Manhattan independent school consultant who specializes in working with families to ensure academic success for all learners. She is the founder and president of Transparent Learning NYC. Ms. Doyle has a masters degree from NYU. Before starting her company, she was Director of Learning Services- grades k-12 for fifteen years at a Manhattan independent school. Ms. Doyle can be reached at email@example.com.