Let's say you have a child named Joey who is turning five in September. You're undecided on when to start him in kindergarten: this year at five or next year at six? You tour some schools, and in January you opt to apply to both private and public—just to see what happens. Why not?
Jump forward to March: You open your mailbox to find rejections from all the privates and an assignment at a strong public. You're pleased with the public option but you're crestfallen by a "no" from your favorite private. You formulate a plan: Send Joey to public kindergarten this fall; then next year reapply to private, hopefully get in, and have him repeat kindergarten. Good idea? A friend of mine actually asked an admissions director at a private school about this. Her response? Not a wise plan. The school would rather see the child go to a special pre-K program or stay in preschool before starting a private school. I don't know exactly why, nor do I know if this is the case at all private schools. What have you heard?
Here's another scenario: You send Joey to a K–5 public school, let's say Lakeshore. He thrives for six years at Lakeshore but he's a shy, quiet kid and you're reluctant to send him to a big public junior high. You think he'll feel lost and overwhelmed. So you try to get Joey into Rooftop for sixth, seventh, and eighth? Is that possible? What's the likelihood of something like this working out?
And another: In this one, Joey's a lively little guy and so you send him to private because you think he needs extra attention in a small environment. Wrong! He's bouncing off the walls! When he's in second grade, you set out to find him a bigger public school. Can you just sign up over at Clarendon or McKinley or Alvarado? How easy is that to do?
Does it seem premature to start thinking about switching schools—when most of us don't even have our kids in school yet? Yes! But in the past few days, I've talked to so many parents about this topic. Everyone wants to know, what can they do if they pick the wrong school? Or how can they work the system to get the perfect fit for their child? Does anyone have thoughts on this?