For some, the fall season means apple picking, leaf blowing, sweater wearing and pumpkin carving. For New York City parents of four and five year olds, fall is the start of the Kindergarten application season.
If private school is even a little bit on your radar, now is the time to apply, test and tour. (You can always change your mind and withdraw your application later, or even, if admitted, choose not to attend. But, if you don't apply now, you will have to wait for next year, and there are much fewer available spots in first grade versus Kindergarten.)
When it comes to testing, the private schools will still be requiring the WPPSI (colloquially known as the ERB) for this season. (Read about why that may change and what it means to you, here.)
When it comes to touring, some schools require that you apply before being scheduled to visit, while others are more flexible. Still others will hold Open Houses in the fall. Unlike a formal school tour, you won't get to see the teachers and students in action. But you will get a chance to meet the staff, ask questions, and possibly wander about the building on your own, to get some sense of whether or not this might be a good fit for your child.
Interested parents may check out the following Open Houses/Tours in the near future:
* Bank Street School for Children has three Open Houses scheduled for October, including October 7, October 16 and October 28, all at 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm. Their presentation will include an overview of progressive education and how that works at Bank Street, their Mission of Diversity, a tour of the facilities, and a Q&A with members of the Bank Street community. The Bank Street School is affiliated with Bank Street College. Learn more about them at: http://bankstreet.edu/school-children/admissions/
* The Rudolf Steiner School of the Upper East Side will have Nursery through Grade 6 Open Houses on October 9 and November 7 from 7 pm to 9 pm. The international chain of Steiner schools has a very definite philosophy (the Waldorf Method) for all their families to follow (for instance, no media use at all in the early years) and isn't for everyone. But it's a worthwhile place to visit for parents unhappy with the recent focus on standardized testing, and those interested in learning more about this unique kind of progressive curriculum. Contact them at: http://www.steiner.edu/page.aspx?pid=654
* The Speyer Legacy School invites parents to visit their Lower School Open Houses on October 10 and November 14 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm. The Speyer Legacy School bills itself as the only non-profit, independent, K-8 school in Manhattan for advanced learners, and they have recently opened a brand new building in the Hell's Kitchen area. Read one mother's opinion of the school, here and contact them at: http://www.speyerlegacyschool.org/page.cfm?p=394
* The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine (featured in the video above), an independent K-8 school for children of all faiths will have their fall open house on October 16 at 6 pm. The open house is not required as part of the application process, as all families will receive a tour of the building when they come in for their parent interview, should they decide to apply. Contact them at: http://www.cathedralnyc.org/admission
* The Alexander Robertson School of the Upper West Side offers group tours most mornings at 9:45 am, plus will schedule an individual appointment on request. As they don't require you to apply before visiting, The Alexander Robertson School is a great opportunity to visit a small, traditional school (the kids wear uniforms) and ask questions about their philosophy and curriculum without the pressure of applying to a larger, more intense institution. Contact them at: http://www.alexanderrobertson.org/admissions.html
* Finally, The School at Columbia does not offer tours, but it is also the school with one of the easiest admissions processes in the city. All families residing in either District 3 or District 5 (Upper West Side) are invited to fill out an on-line application. That's it. No fee to pay, no testing, no interviews. The NY Gifted Education Examiner strongly urges anyone who qualifies to fill out the application, as there is no downside. If you get in and don't want to go, you simply say no. There is no obligation. To read an interview with one mother who chose The School at Columbia for her child over a local Gifted & Talented program, click here.
Stay tuned for more as the season progresses, as this is only the beginning....