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When to start looking at private schools
This is for all parents with a child about to start K, or 1, or middle school, or high school or college in 2008/2009 or even 2009/2010. Plan ahead for transitions. Think about what educational settings meet your child's needs. It is very disruptive to try to move a student in midyear or wait for a child to fail before seeking help or a new school. If you can afford private education, make sure you will still be able to afford college.
Start setting up school visits now, the open houses and tours are being scheduled now and within the next few weeks. If you wait you may need to apply to a school sight unseen. The Bay Area is a very tight market for places in private school classrooms and there are limited need based scholarships which are often are handed out first come first served. If you are committed to Public Education there are a range of choices, and inter-district transfers options. And you can always move or rent an apartment to find that special system. All I can say is that we are finally entering college this Fall, and after about nine different school processes from infant care, pre-school, K, elementary, middle and (god save us all) high school, college was the easiest and best entry experience. Hope I say the same thing four years from now. Seeing the Light
I'm looking for advice on WHEN I should begin researching, applying and visiting private schools in the East Bay for the 2004/2005 school year(Kindergarten)? Do many of the small private schools in Oakland and Berkeley have wait lists longer than a year in advance? Thank you in advance for your input. Maya
My kids didn't start in private schools in Kindergarten so it may be different than for the upper grades. You can make yourself crazy worrying about which school he/she will get into.
Call the schools you are interested in and ask if there's a waiting list.
Starting usually in Nov. or so schools will have open house
visits for new families, followed by an application,
sometimes an interview and the child is usually invited to
spend at least a day or more in the classroom.
Different schools do this process differently. Applications
should usually be in by late Jan. or early Feb. and I think
they all pretty much let you know by March.
Good luck, but take it easy and don't worry.
been there, done that
September: Contact schools you are interested in and request information packets. October: Indepedent School Fair at UCB Pauley Pavillion: See all the possible school choices
October: Book school tours for those schools you are interested in.
Oct. - Dec. Tour the schools you are interested in.
Nov.-Dec. Submit applications for schools you may want to attend.
January: Child visits each of the prospective schools for an "assessment"; these are low key and done very well by all of the schools. Your child doesn't need to know this is an assessment.
First week of March: You are notified by each school you applied if you've gotten in/wait listed or not in. You have one week to commit to any of the schools. All schools have the same notification and commitment date.
In response to Caroline's questions about when to start researching kindergartens - now is the time if you are talking about entering school next year. We live in Richmond, and did not feel that the local school was a good place for our kids, so the decision to go private was an easy one. I don't know the rules in Union City, but you need to call the school district and find out what options you have with the public schools, and then go visit the schools and talk to parents and teachers. If you decide to look at private schools, I think they start having their open houses in October or November, but I'm not sure. Parents Press usually has all the information. As far as what your child should know, if they are enrolled in a preschool for this year, they are probably getting all the socialization skills and "academic" skills they need. Windrush, the private school my kids go to (daughter just started kindergarten and son in 3rd grade), does interviews for kindergarten, but does not test the children. There are some private schools which do test, and are going for the "smartest" kids possible, but we weren't interested in that kind of school. We were looking for small class size, quality programs like art, music, Spanish and computers, an excellent before and after school program, and a philosophy that is supportive and non-competitive, and we found that at Windrush. They probably expect the kids to know their alphabet and numbers, write their names, but are looking more for verbal and social skills. Good luck, I know this is a stressful time and the decisions are hard - but if you start now, you'll have enough time to figure out what you want in a school and then make well-informed decisions. Helen
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