How to: NYC Nursery School Admissions

Updated by Angela Tohl from a previous post written by AWNY

Important Dates

Private Nursery School

  • Applications Open: September straight after Labor Day for most nursery schools
  • Applications Close: vary depending on the school, usually by October/November

Public Pre-School (“Free Pre-K”)

Check the NYC Department of Education site for exact dates and sign up for email updates.

  • Applications Open: mid January
  • Applications Close: mid February

Summary of Options

NYC offers the following options for children turning 4 during the calendar year for that school year (which starts in September):

  • Private (Nursery School), and
  • Public (Free Pre-K)

Overview of NYC Nursery School

If your baby is 9-12 months old and you’d like to think about a program for nursery school, Labor Day is the time of the year to begin. Most nursery schools will begin taking applications right after the holiday – and if you’re going to apply you may as well do it on time.

You might have heard stories from friends who wrote six ‘essays’ – or more – so their two year old could sing, paint and glue. Or you might be happily unaware of such boring tales. But it always sounds worse than it is – there are lots of great schools to choose from and the process is really not a big deal as long as you know how it works.

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Photo credit: freeimages.com/Fran Gambín

Selecting the Nursery School

Close to home works for most! But some travel too – either way the best place for the list of all the options is the Parents League and then check out each school’s website for more details on the age of acceptance (usually between 18 months and 3 years depending on the school).

The Nursery School Applications Process

Each private nursery school has their own and 90% are online the day after Labor Day, but some require you to call and request it. Either way, a lot of the questions are basically the same for everyone. They want to understand as much as they can about your family, your child and how you think about education and parenting. It’s worth understanding the school’s philosophy before answering the questions! And if you’re serious about some of the tougher schools to get into, it’s worth preparing the answers before the applications open so you’re ready to fill it out on the day (it doesn’t usually vary much from the year before).

NYC Nursery School Deadlines

All schools will have their own and it’s usually about month or two later, but really the best time to submit them is as soon as possible; even if they have an October deadline they may close it early if they receive too many.

Playdates and Interviews

Once you’ve made it through the “lottery” for the applications, you’ll be invited to an interview and tour for the parents – all of this might sound ridiculous, but actually seeing the school and the teachers interacting with the children helps you solidify your own preferences. Your child may also be invited to a “playdate” so the teachers see how they interact – it’s not to judge your child so much as to try and balance the personalities in the class, so it’s nothing to worry about. And most of the kids seem to love it – an AWNY member shares that her daughter left the first one and had so much fun she asked when there would be cake (she thought it was a party!).

Nursery School Acceptance and Waitlists

You’ll hear back in February where you got in (all on the one day). If you got into more than one school, obviously let the school you don’t want know as soon as possible so they can offer it to another child. If you didn’t get in to the school of your choice, don’t panic, email them immediately and ask to stay on the waitlist. You never know.

Public Pre-school: Free Pre-K (For 4 Year Olds)

Importantly, don’t forget the free Pre-K option available in NYC. Public Pre-K is now available for New Yorkers so if your child turns 4 before December 31st they’re eligible to start a Pre-K program in September of that year. Not every school has them but you can learn about the Pre-K program on the NYC DOE site.

Public Pre-School: Free 3-K For All (For 3 Year Olds)

The City recently introduced Free 3-K For All, which is for children who turn 3 before December 31st. The program is currently available for School Districts 7 (South Bronx) and 23 (Brownsville, East New York, Ocean Hill), with the goal of bringing it to every community school district in NYC.  So check the NYC DOE 3-K For All site regularly for updates.

Have tips to share? Or need help?

Those are the basics but if you have any questions or additional tips, please let us know in the comments section. If you’d like a first-hand perspective, check with other Aussie parents via the Australian Mums & Dads in New York Facebook Group.

Stay tuned as we have more “School Series” guides to come.

Good luck!

 

AWNY Mums and Dads Update, October 2017

By Helen McWilliam

This Month

I have two things to tell you about this month. The first is something every parent must get—the IDNYC. And the second is a recap of our October event, the superb Sunday supper at Burke and Wills.

IDNYC

Procrastination is what I do best.  At least 10 people during my time here have told me how brilliant the IDNYC is and how easy it is to apply for.  Finally after two years here, I now have my IDNYC.  It’s actually a very straightforward process:

  1. Fill out an application online http://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/index.page
  2. Make an appointment online. You can choose one of many locations dotted throughout the city.
  3. Collect your ID and proof of residency. There’s an online document calculator, which helps in the process.
  4. Show up on time for your appointment. Mine was done in 25 minutes and your IDNYC generally arrives in the post within two weeks.  Job done.

Additionally my appointment was at a very kid-friendly location, the Grand Central Library.  There’s a comprehensive list of benefits on the website but for example you get a year’s free entry to the Natural History Museum, Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is enough value to make the appointment time worth while.  As I had it pointed out to me, the list of free memberships can also act like a bucket list for your time in NYC.

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Burke and Wills Sunday Supper

What a great turnout we had for our Sunday Supper! Burke and Wills is an Australian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to our own party of 20, quite a few of our fellow diners were (unsurprisingly) also Australian. It was a really fun night with familiar and new faces.  Thankfully the bar upstairs, The Manhattan Cricketers Club, wasn’t open, otherwise the school run on Monday would have been a challenge.

Amanda and I are always keen for venue options outside of the UWS so please let us know if you have any ideas for future functions; especially the upcoming Christmas dinner.  Either contact us through the AWNY website https://australianwomeninnewyork.org/awny-mums-bubs/ or Amanda or myself through Facebook.

Future Events

For our next events, we’re working with the producers of Women of Letters for a group booking as well as our annual Christmas party!  So please watch this space.

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AWNY Mums and Dads Update, September 2017

 

By Helen McWilliam

Last Days of Summer

And just like that, summer is over.  When I returned to New York for the start of the school year, it made me realise how important respite is when you live in such a big city. We take the beach and trees for granted in Australia.  I had a wake up call when my four year old was terrified of a fly. Don’t get me started on our trip to the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Natural History Museum—sheer terror! It was definitely time to get out of the city. Now we’re glad to be back and ready for the school year. Over the last few months, I found a few things that I thought were worth sharing:

Crybaby Matinees

I wish I’d known about this when we first moved here. There are parent and newborn baby screenings at cinemas here in New York, called ‘Crybaby Matinees’.  I used to attend them regularly in Sydney with my firstborn. I loved them because everyone’s baby is crying so it doesn’t matter if yours is too! Wednesdays at 11am at the E86th Street City Cinema is one location I am aware of however I am sure there are screenings in cinemas across New York. Definitely worth looking out for if you have a small baby.

53rd St Library Movies…

Another thing I wanted to share was a great children’s space I came across during the holidays—the 53rd Street Library, which has been open for just over a year in Midtown and is across the road from MOMA.  I came to know about it as I attended a free movie screening with my children. With a library card, the library provides you with a listening jack/headphones and you are welcome to bring food. It was a great and free way to see a movie with children.  

…and Kids’ Room

My two year old got tired of listening after a while so I took him downstairs to the children’s room, which is an enclosed space, so you can sit down and watch your children explore the room.  The children’s room also had Lego, toys and of course many books, as well as staff on hand.  They also had change tables and it just felt very child friendly.  In addition to the movie screenings, there are also numerous story times, coloring clubs, Spanish lessons and even a children’s improv hour.  See their website for more details.

Coming Attractions for Aussie Mums and Dads in New York

Finally, as the kids are back at school, Amanda and I have more time to ourselves so we are back to organising events!  The next one is a beauty and will be on October 22 at Burke and Wills for their $30 Sunday supper special. Please check out the event up on the Australian Mums and Dads in New York Facebook group.  We have a few more events planned over the next few months so please watch this space.

Helen and Amanda

AWNY Mums and Dads update, June 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

May was a quieter month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group after a very busy April.  The warmer weather has been very welcome and my children are loving the more regular sight of sprinklers in the playgrounds.

This month, Amanda and I wanted to include a shout out to the Dads of this group.  The events we’ve organised so far have been focused on the Mums.  We’d love some input from the Dads to see if you’d like our help to organize a Dad’s meet-up, arrange a Saturday playgroup or something else entirely.  Please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY. We’d love to hear from you.

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, I wanted to share a day trip idea.  As I have recently overcome my fear of travelling on the subway alone with two children, I am finally leaving the Upper West Side.  Well, if I’m honest there’s still fear, I can just do it without hyperventilating and shouting! The New York Hall of Science in Queens is worth the long subway ride.  I have a 4.5 year old and nearly 2 year old and they were both transfixed for hours.  It would also be suitable for much older children as my two missed a lot of the meaning behind many of the exhibits. All the exhibits were engaging and hands on, however the ‘Connected Worlds’ installation was a must see. There’s also plenty of staff on hand to help the children get the most out of the museum. It can get a bit hectic with school groups but there’s a preschool area where groups aren’t allowed and we were advised that the groups tend to leave at 12-1pm. A few helpful pointers:

1. There’s no lift for strollers at 111th street Subway Station in Queens however, however I found I only had to look towards the stairs and people were offering me help.

2. The café was pretty basic so I would advise bringing your own food.

3. In what I would consider a big win, the shop was easily avoided!

Some up coming AWNY events to highlight: the ‘Working In the USA’ information session presented by Belinda Jackson is on the 14th of June.  It provides expert advice for Aussie job seekers.  Plus, the annual AWNY picnic is one for the whole family on the 24th of June in Central Park.

Photo credit: Helen McWilliams

Enjoy your June and the last few precious weeks of school before the endless school holidays!

 

Maarten van den Heuvel @mvdheuvel Maarten van den Heuvel

Is it okay not to love New York City with kids?

By Helen McWilliam

 

What makes a person move to New York City? Bright lights, big city? For us, it was love at first sight ten years ago when we visited New York City. My now husband and I visited for 5 days and loved every second. We barely slept because we didn’t want to waste a moment. We were determined to return to live in New York one day. This dream took a back seat as we continued our every day life. We visited again for a few days as part of a longer holiday in the US. Again loving every second.

The opportunity came when I was about 3 months pregnant with our second child. We had made a happy life for ourselves in Sydney; new to us but it felt like home. As settled as we were, we didn’t feel like we could turn down the opportunity to move to New York, a city that we both loved. We negotiated for my husband to transfer 6 weeks after the baby was born. I would move to Queensland to live with my Mum whilst he moved to New York to set us up. I couldn’t wait to get to New York. I hated splitting up our family and my then 2.5 year old missed his father desperately.

I am pretty flexible and I find it easy to make conversations with strangers so I was looking forward to the challenge of forming a new network…but with a 12 week old baby? I didn’t think about how challenging that would be.

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