The Scramble for Places in Primary Schools
If you live in New York or San Francisco, you probably already know how difficult it is to get your toddler into a good primary school. You almost have to register for a place before she is born. The problem is that places in most major metropolitan area primary schools are extremely limited. Consequently, parents will do almost anything to get their children into a desirable school. Back in the 50s and 60s when I was growing up, pre-schools and nurseries were hard to find. That's because most mothers were stay-at-home mothers. Looking after the children was just part of the job description of a mother then. That began to change as more mothers began to work outside the home. In the 70s and 80s preschools and nursery schools became a hot commodity. So, how do you position your child so that she stands the best chance of getting into a good primary school?
In this video, Denise Pope offers advice on finding an elementary school.
1. Make sure your child attends a good preschool.
It helps to have your child attend a well-regarded preschool. There are several practical reasons for this. The network of Pre-K school directors and primary school directors is active in any city. These professionals know each other. They communicate with each other regularly. They also know each other's work and the standards achieved at each school. So, if a primary school director calls your pre-school director and asks about your child, your director's comments will count for a whole lot. Preparing kids and parents for preschool offers some helpful advice and thoughts on getting your child into pre-school. As I pointed out earlier, places in pre-school will be much tighter in an urban setting than in a smaller village or town located far from the competitive city market.
This video describes one of the popular early childhood education approaches.
2. Be involved.
Parental involvement in school activities says much about a parent. If you are the kind of parent who asks what he can do to help and pitches in whenever asked to do something, the school will notice. So, when asked how supportive you are, your child's pre-school director will give glowing reports about your helpfulness. If you are involved in school activities and support the school in a positive manner,it won't hurt your child's chances. Schools look at parents as much as they look at your child. If you offer to chaperone a field trip, help throw a party for your child's class or raise money to buy new playground equipment, you will ingratiate yourself with the school. actions always speak louder than words. Now, if you are both busy with careers which prevent your attending school functions during the day on a regular basis, then be sure to let the school know. Writing a check for the scholarship fund or other worthy cause will help offset your inability to be on hand during the day. Of course, clear your schedule for those special occasions when your presence during the day is absolutely essential.
3. Don't get a reputation as a difficult parent.
If you have developed a reputation as a cantankerous or, even worse, a difficult parent, that information could kill your child's chances for admission to a good school. No school wants another difficult parent lurking about. The problem with earning a reputation as a difficult, demanding parent is that the negative cloud will not go away easily. It takes very little time to become known as a difficult parent. It takes forever to get rid of that reputation.
This video offers some ideas on how to deal with difficult parents.
4. Don't try to bribe your way in.
You may have the financial resources of the Sultan of Brunei, but that means nothing to most primary school directors. The Grubman affair tainted those waters for most Manhattan admissions directors. What matters are the usual things: your child's readiness for the school's work and how the school sees you supporting both your child's school work and the school's objectives. Overbearing, self-important men and women rarely impress the director of any school. That's because the school director doesn't have to have much of an imagination to see that your example will only rub off on your children. Nobody wants self-important, overbearing students in her school.
5. Play your choices carefully.
Telling the admissions director at one school that you really prefer another other school is perhaps not the best thing to do. All you are going to do by confiding such information is to get your child removed from the school's list of places offered. Be honest with the school. Discuss your requirements in an even-handed manner. Ask questions as necessary to determine that the school is a good fit. Then make your informed decision.
The only sure way to put your child at the head of the list is to have other siblings at the school. Schools generally look kindly - all else being equal - at brothers and sisters as well as legacies. If you attended the school, your child would be considered a legacy.
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