Preschool In The City: The Interview.

pre school interview nurserySo, Aria had her first “interview” at Barrow Street Nursery recently. Essentially (and thankfully) it was only observed play in a classroom, and pretty painless. She and four other kids rotated at different play stations– a little kitchen with tea pots and dolls, a table with puzzles and toys, and another covered with paper and  marker paints. One parent of each child (me in this case) was allowed to sit in but were asked to not get too involved. I  must admit, a time or two I had to hold my tongue when my natural reaction was to interject or direct her (or praise her and call attention to something she was doing that was particularly impressive:).

What exactly NYC preschools are looking for during these interviews, I’m not sure. I’d say she did well, but she definitely didn’t follow every direction and certainly didn’t pull out all her charisma and charm (I guess that’s reserved for audiences in her own living room). She played well and didn’t cling to me as one of her other little co-interviewees did his mom. She was herself (although perhaps a toned down version)–  showing her nurturing side with mothering dollies, unabashedly expressing her will when another little boy tried to pry the tea pot our of her hands, and asserting her independence when she decided to rearrange the little chairs instead of sitting down on the rug for story time (free thinker? artistic expression? Surely thing was a good thing??).

Anyway, regardless, I’d say it was a success. If nothing else it’s planted the idea in her head that school is fun. She did not want to leave when it was time, and has brought up going back repeatedly since.  As mentioned before on this blog, I didn’t apply to any other schools, so we’ll see where she ends up. The mom next to me applied to 11, but Barrow was the only one they made through the lottery and got an interview.  I guess I should feel good since essentially we’re 1 for 1.

Chatter on the playground: Where did you apply?
Top choices amongst West Village mom’s seem to be:

Barrow Street Nursery
Mandell
West Village Nursery 
City and Country School
Downing Street Playgoup Co-op 

What I wish I knew then:
I wish I had applied to the two  co-ops. Subsequently (and unfortunately post-deadline) I have heard great things about both. Parents take a larger role and are more involved in co-ops and (because of this) they are considerably less expensive.

I also wish I had read this article which tells you a little bit about what to expect and gives a few tips. Luckily, I did  keep my mouth shut, and her independent streak  and will may very well have been a looked at as a positive in the end.

Good thing because ends up preschool is the best job training program out there. Or at least according to this article. 

Need help navigating the preschool madness ? A great listing of NYC preschools (listed by neighborhood) can be seen on MommyPoppins.

Preschool In the City : The Parent Visit

So, I just got out of our first preschool visit. That’s part one of two in the interview process for my 2 year old (for next year). Yes, if you’re not from NYC you probably don’t realize how big of a production this whole preschool thing is. It’s almost as bad as my college application process, and the price tag of some are almost just as much (no, I’m not even kidding).

To be honest, I am the slacker mom who has only (as of yet) applied to one school despite all the preschool chatter on the playground and the fact that Aria’s dad brought me home a book of NYC preschools to research (hint hint). I’ve used the excuse that we may not even be here next year (we discuss moving to the “country” house full time (no, no), and I’ve had a bit of a hard stance against the ridiculous process and price tag (my own silent revolt by not applying).

However, after this parent visit today, my resistance started to give way. My harshness about it all softened just a bit. The school was lovely. A place I would love Aria to be. One filled with creativity and experiential learning, one that is nurturing and loving while still fostering structure and independence. I was truly impressed.

barrow st preschool

I won’t tell you the name (right now), but it’s of the most coveted in the West Village, and now I can see why. It’s a great space with warm teachers, a philosophy in line with mine, and a beautiful space complete with a rooftop garden/playground and indoor tri-cycle track. Sigh.

It’s a hard thing now that I’ve gotten hooked in. It’s made me have to consider the fact that sometimes processes and price tags (no matter if insane) may have (some) merit.  We’ll see. For now, I guess I should be applying to others whose deadlines I haven’t already missed. After all, don’t we all want to give our kids the best things in life? The best start?

We have a second interview with Aria for this school in January, and while I know they will fall in love with her and her incredible brightness (and of course accept her on the spot :), I am going to start to check out what else is out there. Being open minded goes far– even when it  comes to preschool mania.