Category Archives: education

APPLYING FOR PRE-K IN BROOKLYN: GENERAL GUIDELINES

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written by Jen #supermom

Universal pre-K.  Finally available in NYC for the past two years, this is an opportunity for our children to participate in free, full days and prepare these little ones for kindergarten and the future. It’s an amazing chance for all kids to have equal access to early education.   Here I will try to help navigate you through the important dates you need to know in regards to pre-K programs, the application process, and other things to consider.

Is your child eligible?  If your child was born in 2012, they ARE ELIGIBLE for pre-K this September for the 2016-2017 school year!

1) Important Dates:

The Pre-K application process begins January 25th and runs through March 4th (2 months earlier than last year)!   In early May offer letters will be sent.  Early May – May 20th is the pre-registration period.  May 2nd – May 20th is the round 2 application period.  The DOE is currently working on creating new pre-K opportunities, and they are expected to announce these new programs in the Spring round 2 period.

2) How to Apply:

Online: Visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/default.htm  to create an account and submit your application.

Go to a Family Welcome Center:  http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/NewStudents/WelcomeCenters/default.htm

or Over the Phone:  Call 718-935-2067 to submit your application. 8am-6pm, Monday through Friday.

To learn about schools in your zone and/or district with detailed information on this entire process, please visit the  Brooklyn Pre-K Directory.  To see a map of different programs available in your vicinity, go to the Pre-K finder.

Note that you can also subscribe to updates on the pre-K admissions process here:  http://schools.nyc.gov/Subscribe/default.htm

3) Considerations:

– Parents can rank as many as 12 schools on the pre-K application, in order of preference.  You will be able to choose from programs at district schools, pre-K centers, NYCEEC (NYC Early Education Centers) and charter schools.  You will use one form to apply to all.

– In regards to priority, students living within the zone of a particular school WITH siblings already enrolled get first priority.  Next come any students zoned for that school, then students in the district whose zoned school has no pre-K program AND they also have a sibling at the particular school, and so on.  For childhood centers, priority goes to existing students, then siblings of current students, then to low-income families & English language learners.  For detailed information on admission priorities go to page 10 of the  Brooklyn Pre-K Directory.

– If you are not accepted into the school of choice you are automatically added to the waitlist.   This pertains to any school listed on the application that ranked higher than the one your child was accepted to.

– Most public schools offer full day (6 hrs, 20 min) and some offer 5 hour and half day options.  Some programs do offer extended hours, and you can find these options by looking at the Program Information section in the Brooklyn Pre-K Directory or in the Pre-K Finder.

– Information for students with disabilities can be found at:  http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/StudentsWithDisabilities/default.htm

– Before deciding and ranking your list, talk to friends.  Talk to parents whose children attend that school.  Research online.  Most importantly, PLAN A VISIT.   Many schools are touring now so be sure to look at the school’s calendar online or contact the school directly to set up a tour.

– When making that list of top schools, certain issues might be more of a priority to you:  public school or community center (what kind of hours are you looking for), commute to/from school, do parents feel welcome in the school, does the classroom feel clean and exciting/fun/interesting at the same time?  Here is a video from Inside Schools that can help you make the most informed decision:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSG1yhtltbI

Dr. Cao is part of ‘Free&Equal’, a United Nations campaign

dr cao for lgtb youth

Remember the campaign for the United Nations Dr. Cao was asked to be part of? here is the preview and apparently ‪#‎RickyMartin‬ tweeted about it! ‘Free and Equal’ is a United Nations campaign for LGTB Equality ‪#‎pediatrician‬ ‪#‎brooklyn‬ ‪#‎faces‬ ‪#‎unitednations‬ ‪#‎freeandequal‬
Watch the video at: https://www.unfe.org/en/actions/faces–14

APPLYING FOR UNIVERSAL PRE-K IN BROOKLYN: GENERAL GUIDELINES

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written by Jen #supermom

Universal pre-K.  Finally available in NYC as of last year, this is an opportunity for our children to participate in free, full days and prepare these little ones for kindergarten and the future. It’s an amazing chance for all kids to have equal access to early education.   Here I will try to help navigate you through the important dates you need to know, the application process, and other things to consider.

Is your child eligible?  If your child was born in 2011, they ARE ELIGIBLE for pre-K this September for the 2015-2016 school year!

 

1) Important Dates:

The Pre-K application process begins March 16th and runs through April 24th.   On May 29th placements will be announced (date subject to change).  From June 1st through the 19th is pre-registration.

2) How to Apply:

Online:  http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/default.htm (the Brooklyn pre-K Directory will be made available on this page prior to March 16th)

Call:  311

Or Visit a Family Welcome Center:  http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/NewStudents/WelcomeCenters/default.htm

You can also subscribe to updates on the pre-K admissions process here:  http://schools.nyc.gov/Subscribe/default.htm

3) Considerations:

– Parents can rank as many as 12 schools on the pre-K application.  Approximately 40% of these programs are in public schools and the other 60% are in community centers/child care centers.  You will use one form to apply to both.

– In regards to priority, students living within the zone of a particular school WITH siblings already enrolled get first priority.  Next come any students zoned for that school.  For childhood centers, priority goes to existing students, then siblings of current students, then to low-income families & English language learners.

– If you are not accepted into the school of choice you can request to be added to the wait list.

– The big difference between public pre-K and those pre-K programs offered at the children’s centers are the hours. Public schools offer half day (2.5 hrs) and full day (6 hrs).  The centers offer a full day, including the child care after the school day ends (for those parents that work full time, this option makes more sense).  Note that the child care provided after the school day is subject to a fee, based on income.  So step 1 for someone entering this process is to decide if the public school or one of these centers is the best route to take.

– Before deciding and ranking your list, talk to friends.  Talk to parents whose children attend that school.  Research online.  PLAN A VISIT.

– When making that list of top schools, certain issues might be more of a priority to you:  public school or community center (what kind of hours are you looking for), commute to/from school, do parents feel welcome in the school, does the classroom feel clean and exciting/fun/interesting at the same time?  Here is a video from Inside Schools that can help you make the most informed decision:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSG1yhtltbI

 

APPLYING FOR KINDERGARTEN IN BROOKLYN – GENERAL GUIDELINES

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written by Jen #supermom

For those parents with a child entering kindergarten in the Fall of 2015, it is imperative that you start thinking NOW about applying.   Especially for those of us unfamiliar with the process, it can seem a bit daunting and stressful.  Here is my attempt to alleviate a bit of that stress and ambiguity.  These are general guidelines in regards to the application process, along with resources to help answer whatever questions you may have.

 

1) Important Dates:

The application process starts January 7th, 2015  and runs through February 13th, 2015.  Placement offers are given in early April 2015 and pre-registration is in late April 2015.  As of January 7th you can apply online, over the phone or at a Family Welcome Center.

 

2) How to Apply:

Online:   (http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Elementary/kindergarten),

or

Go to a local Family Welcome Center:

http://schools.nyc.gov/choicesenrollment/newstudents/welcomecenters/default.htm

or

Call the Office of Student Enrollment:  718.935.2009

Here is the Brooklyn 2015 Kindergarten Directory, which can help explain the ins and outs of the process as well as full listings of all elementary schools and important information on each school:  http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/951D2800-BC77-411D-8879-4B2E8CE66972/0/2015KindergartenDirectory_Brooklyn_121214.pdf

You can also subscribe to updates on the NYC Kindergarten Admissions here:  http://schools.nyc.gov/Subscribe/default.htm

 

3) Before Applying, a Few Things to Consider:

– Enrollment is not based on first come, first serve.  If you submit an application within the period noted above, offers are made on “standardized admission priorities” (DOE).

– Decide where you want to apply (do your homework).  Are you happy with the school you are zoned for, or will you consider other schools?  Note that schools give priority to those that are zoned for that particular school.  Keep in mind that if you aren’t accepted to one of these “other” schools, most likely you will be assigned to your zoned school.  Perhaps you will be waitlisted at your school of choice – keep in touch with those schools to ensure they know you are still interested so that they offer a spot when one opens up.

Here are a couple of online resources where you can read reviews on a particular school:

http://insideschools.org/

http://www.schooldigger.com/

For those interested in learning about charter, magnet, dual language and gifted/talented programs, Joyce Szuflita (NYC School Help) will be discussing these options at the Hootenanny Art House on January 26th.  Tickets can be purchased here:   http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1045290

And for parents of children with special needs, this page can offer a bit of guidance:  http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/SpecialEducation.htm

As we’re just a couple weeks out until we can begin submitting applications, this is a good time to start thinking about how happy you are with the school you are zoned for.  Talk to other parents whose children attend these schools, read online reviews, look at the school’s website.  Call the school, set up a time to tour it.  Remember your child will most likely be attending this school for years to come – so think past the kindergarten year.  How do you feel about school size, class size?  How strong are the art & music programs?  Does the school have a “mission statement” or philosophy that you can get behind?  Is there child care offered for before and/or after school?  There are a plethora of questions that can be asked.  Prioritize what is most important to you so you can find the school that is the best fit for you AND your child!

 

The Day Care Dilemma …

Group of cute little prescool kids drawingBy Jen #supermom

My story is a common one.   When my daughter turned 3 months old, I  was faced with what felt like the most impossible hurdle in the world – putting her in daycare full time so I could return to work.  I left for work very early in the mornings, so my husband would take on the task of dropping her off.  I picked her up at 6pm, often one of the last to do so.  She’d fall asleep in the bjorn before we walked into our apartment.  My moments with her were mostly kept to the weekends (outside of the sleepless nights…  I would actually be excited to wake up at the wee hours just so I could hold and soothe her).  Anyway long story short… after bursting into tears to an acquaintance when asked about the situation, I decided we needed to make a change.  I have the UTMOST respect to all working moms.  Everyone is unique – we have different goals, different financial restraints, different everything.  For me, I realized that I needed more time with my girl.  More time to read to her, more time to play with her, more time to kiss those chubby cheeks.  So I quit my job, which I loved dearly.

Without getting into too much further detail, I realized quickly (after 2 months staying at home) that I needed a bit of variety in my life.  I missed working.  Loved every moment with her more than anything in the world, but yearned for something else.  Started working 2 jobs part time, both of which I can thankfully do at home, during her naps and at night after she is in bed.  Skipping ahead to the present – she is turning 2 in the Fall and we’ve decided to put her in daycare again, this time however only part time, 2 afternoons a week (I need to dedicate more time to work & I think the socialization and interaction will be fantastic for her).

So on to the task of finding the right care.  Navigating the world of daycares, especially in Park Slope where there are a plethora of options, can be a very daunting one.  There are so many to choose from!   Here is my best attempt in trying to help someone in this position as I’ve just gone through it a 2nd time:

* Word of Mouth:  Talk to local moms and dads, wherever and whenever you can.  At the playground, the YMCA, at music class, your mommy group.  What do others have to say?  I think this is the most valuable way to learn and a great starting point.   I came to figure out pretty quickly that many stay at home moms/dads (especially those with two children) have a child in daycare at least part time.  They can offer insight on where their child attends and why they would (or would not) recommend it.

* Park Slope Parents:  This site is SO super helpful.  Not only do they list the different daycares in Park Slope but they share reviews from other parents:  http://www.parkslopeparents.com/list/387_Daycare-Providers.html  and here they offer tips to help you along your search, what questions to ask, etc:  http://www.parkslopeparents.com/Finding-a-Daycare/the-psp-guide-to-finding-and-securing-daycare.html

For me, above all else making that decision was based on trusting my gut.  I knew immediately when taking a tour of some of these facilities if I loved or didn’t love the center.  Of course there are a whole slew of issues that come into play (curriculum, cleanliness, etc)…but how do you feel about the staff?  You’ve got to get some sort of warm feeling from these people that will be caring for your child.

I still have these last few months with her 24/7 and I cringe at the thought of dropping her off somewhere in September…however I know this is what is best for both her and I.  Again, we are all unique, our lives are unique, our desires and goals are unique, our ideas of balance are unique.  But the one thing we all do share is that we absolutely want what’s best for our children.   If you’re in the market for daycare, Park Slope Parents (the site & literally the parents you meet) should be super helpful, guiding you to find the place that FEELS RIGHT to you!

Yours,

Jen #supermom