11 Tips for NYC Kindergarten Applications

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Applying for kindergarten at NYC independent and private schools seems complicated, especially if you didn't grow up here. Or even if you did! This journey requires planning, patience, and persistence. Here are our top tips for navigating the process with a bit more ease and organization.

1. Narrow your list of kindergartens.

You don’t want to end up applying to 20 schools when only 10 would be suitable for your child. Make the process easier by learning about the many curriculum styles in New York City. Traditional, progressive, Montessori: schools have varying types of approaches to learning.

Are you looking for single-sex or coed? Do you want a school affiliated with a synagogue or a church? The more knowledge you have about the different types of programs, the easier it will be to narrow your list to match what your child needs.

2. Look at independent school websites.

Look at schools’ websites. Start with the Parents League, which provides links to over 150 NYC independent school websites.

3. Register for school open houses.

Check school websites for open house dates in the spring and fall. ISAAGNY provides a calendar of open houses taking place at independent schools.

4. Create a list of eight to ten independent schools to consider.

Speak with someone who knows the environment and culture of the school. Parents League advisors visit NYC independent schools and meet with heads and admissions directors. They can provide insights to help better match your family with the right school.

5. Meet with your Preschool Director.

If your child is in a preschool now, the director may provide help finding a kindergarten. They know your child and your family and can help point you in the right direction.

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6. Download applications online ASAP.

Depending on the school, you’ll be able to request an application by phone or download it from its website in the summer or early fall. Use a chart to keep track of applications and deadlines.

7. Submit applications early.

Many schools will only schedule tours and interviews after you have completed an application, so get them in early in order to schedule those dates!

8. Prepare for school visits and interviews

Often there is a tour for parents and a separate visit for your child. Parents League holds an event each year, The Kindergarten Child Interview where Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum describe what schools are looking for during the kindergarten child interview and provide helpful strategies to prepare.

Topics covered include:

  • fostering kindergarten readiness behavior at home
  • talking to your child about the visit
  • practical issues and logistics
  • what to expect on the visit

9. Don’t wait on financial aid.

If you are applying for financial aid, do so when you apply. Schools need to know how much financial aid funding to allocate to families. Not sure if you qualify? Speak to a Parents League advisor about the process. Look to websites for helpful guides and tips.

10. Consider early notification if you have siblings or legacies.

If your child is a sibling or legacy at a school, let the school know if you wish to be included in its optional early notification for legacies program. If your child is accepted, you are then obliged to attend that school and withdraw your applications at all other schools.

11. Mark your calendar for notification and reply dates.

 Find out when schools will notify you about acceptances and when you'll need to reply to them.

Getting your child into the right kindergarten IS a big deal. By planning ahead and not waiting until the last minute you will certainly feel more confident and  in control of this process. If you are still confused or need help, contact us at the Parents League so we can support you with this important step in your child’s educational journey.