Since we discovered the cut off date for kindergarten was December 31st and that Eli would become a kindergarten this coming fall, we have had a consistent conversation about a number of schooling options for all of our kids. We were both in public school the majority of our lives, but more schooling options are now available than ever before since the rise of charter schools and more private schools being in NYC. Homeschooling is also the choice of some of our friends and so we definitely considered it.
We explored a private school, who generously offered us a pro-rated price of $12,000 for the last 6 months of Pre-K. (Thanks, but we’ll go ahead and pocket that 12K we don’t have and teach Eli his letters and colors) We explored and even experimented with home school and investigated charter schools.
In the end, we felt strongly about pursuing the best public school education we could find for our children, assisting the teachers & faculty of that school, and assisting our children and their classmates however we could in pursuing academic excellence (not in the over-parenting-do-your-kid’s-homework way). Sounds simple enough, until you tackle the various enrollment issues of NYC.
Similar to the majority of the US, NYC has zoned elementary schools and districts, so we moved to a good district and zone for public school. We were excited about the local public school, but also discovered NYC’s gifted and talented program.
In February, Eli took a test for gifted and talented, which was like the SAT for 4-year olds and the results were to be provided for us in April. If he scored in the 90s, he could have the option of being in a gifted and talented program in our district, 97 and above would allow him to be in 1 of 5 city-wide schools with the other 5-year older geniuses of NYC.
In March, we applied to our local public school to find out 3 weeks later that we were 27 out of 67 on the wait list for kindergarten. It’s all the letter said, no mention of what next. So we wondered 2 things, 1) Where are all these soon to be 5 year olds in our school zone? We had not seen that many. 2) Now what?
Next, we were notified of a wait list meeting, which involved a number of angry parents from the district squaring off against 2 district employees who were interrupted and yelled at the majority of the night. We did find out we would get an alternative school offer as close to our house as possible in late May.
In April, we found out Eli scored a 94 and was accepted in the gifted and talented program, we then had a week to rank all the programs in our district which runs from the Upper East Side down to midtown, across to the west side and down to the end of Manhattan. After ranking, we were told we would find out in early June which school he was placed in.
Our alternative offer for general public school came in late May and we had 2 weeks to accept the offer or decline, but declining would mean the possibility of losing the option of public kindergarten. We figured the gifted and talented placement would come before the 2 weeks was up, providing us some time to make a decision. We were wrong. We had to enroll the 10th of June and we would receive the G&T placement the following week.
So we enrolled Eli in his alternative offer and then found out the following week he was placed in Chelsea Prep for the G&T program which is on the opposite end of Manhattan from where we live and we were told in the letter there would be no public transportation options, which we eventually found out was not true. (generic letters as communication are so fun and uninformative)
We toured Chelsea Prep and were completely amazed by their program (which includes him learning Mandarin) and fell in love with the school. It will be a great opportunity for Eli’s education and we are excited that he will be entering kindergarten there in the fall. We are looking forward to getting to know the families of his classmates who lives all over Manhattan.
It was quite a confusing process for this first time parent and it’s still hard to believe that this guy will be in kindergarten in the fall! We are proud of him and excited for him!