Preschools- when do you apply?

You asked and you shall now receive. It’s only fair for us to share all of this stored up knowledge about a toddlers and what happens when they start toddling (and talking)! We now will answer, in a very public forum, all of those burning questions about children in their second year. Each Wednesday, we will tackle a commonly-asked-question from the point of view of a parent with a toddler. Chiming in to give her feedback will be three women who have been there and done that: an expert (you know someone who does this for a living), a mom from our community (for the “best” friend advice you need) and a babybites’ team member (someone who will promise to give you the REAL deal and no fluff). Earmark, share and add your own input to today’s question; it’s good karma.

Preschools- when should I start thinking about applying and getting more information?

Expert: Marsha Greenberg

Finding a preschool program for your child in NYC can be stressful but here are some things that may be helpful. Most programs are good. Most programs have good teaching staff, safe environments, and interesting materials. They also prepare your child well for kindergarten by supporting his or her social, emotional and cognitive growth. Look for schools in your neighborhood, stop by and pick up enrollment information when your toddler turns 18 months. Ask to visit the programs six to seven months before you need to apply. Watch how the staff works with children. How do teachers problem solve challenges that all children have with sharing or transitions? What is the programs separation policy? Check out websites like the National Association for the Education of Young Children or Zero to Three to read about developmentally appropritate practice, and age appropriate curriculum. Many programs require a visit for your child where he or she needs to separate from you, so prepare your child a few days in advance. (This is an unfortunate practice because it is not a reliable indicator of your child’s success). Most programs interview parents; try to be yourself. Programs have a range of internal criteria they use to determine good fit. If your child does not get in, it is not an statement of your parenting or your child’s intelligence. The enrollment process can make families feel badly if they are not accepted. Try to remind yourself this is city specific. Always keep in my mind what you know about your child: you are his best advocate.

Mom: Mina McKiernan

In NYC, you should start thinking about pre-schools one full year before enrollment. In the summer, start to make a list of the preschools you’re most interested in and visit their website or call to request information on their application process. Generally speaking, in September you will schedule school tours and begin submitting applications. Subsequently, interviews are scheduled and decisions are often communicated around March. It’s important to have the most updated information as preschool admissions in NYC are quite competitive and deadlines are strict. There is also a universal pre-k program, (free of charge!), offered in many NYC public schools. More information for this can be found on the DOE’s website.

babybites’ team: Heather Ouida

It’s really easy these days, to get caught up in the preschool craziness that happens in NYC and many other metropolitan areas. However, I think it makes the most sense to start casually investigating preschools the year before the admissions process actually starts. By investigating I mean checking out different school web sites, learning a little about different schools’ philosophies and finding what schools are in your neighborhood. I think it’s very important to take into account your child’s unique personality and possible learning preferences (as much as you can at such a young age!). Here are 10 tips from one of our regular speakers’ NYC PEAS on nursery school admissions that I think is especially helpful:

    • Ten things to jumpstart the private school admissions process:
    • Research as many schools as possible
    • Attend spring tours/open houses as offered. Get ahead of the game.
    • Keep an open mind about all schools.
    • Steer away from “park bench” gossip.
    • Set up a support group system with only “genuine” friends and/or an educational consultant you trust!
    • Jot down the five important attributes that you value in a school.
    • Get organized early by setting up a calendar or an Excel spreadsheet.
    • Think about your application essay during the summer; what would you want a school to know about your child?
    • Make a list of all connections you may have to any schools no matter how small.
    • Stay cool, calm and positive!

About our team:

Marsha Greenberg M.S., M.S. W

Marsha is a therapist in New York City. She is the author of the newly released book, Raising Your Toddler, by Globe Pequot Press. She has masters degrees in Child and Family Development and Social Work from the University of Michigan. As the Director of the Health Systems Child Care Program for over 14 years, she was responsible for over 250 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years of age. Marsha teaches in the Early Childhood Special Education department at NYU and has a private psychotherapy practice in NYC. Marsha is the mother of three grown sons and has three grandsons (aged 4 and 18 months and 4 months) with a new grandchild on the way.


Mina McKiernan

Mina is a mom to two daughters: Leila, 6, and Ella, 4. Before becoming a stay-at home mom, she worked as a recruiter for HR professionals.





Heather Ouida

Heather co-owns Mommybites with business partner Laura Deutsch. She is responsible for managing, growing and overseeing Mommybites nationally as well their flagship city of Manhattan. Heather’s favorite parts of her job include hosting “Mommybites Live” an educational talk show with parenting luminaries, writing her blog which varies between sappy, educational and downright snarky, interviewing parenting experts for babybites’ regular tele-class series and facilitating some of the Manhattan working moms support groups. Prior to co-founding Mommybites, Heather was a learning specialist where she taught in London for many years as well as at The Dalton School in Manhattan. Heather holds a BA in psychology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, an MA in child development form Tufts University and acquired her learning specialist degree form York University in England. Heather currently resides in Manhattan her husband, two boys, two fish and pet turtle. Heather’s hobbies include, hot yoga, Nutella eating, writing, Bravo watching, reading and sharing inappropriate jokes with girl friends. To learn more about Heather’s mission to support follow-moms in non-judgmental ways please click here.



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