the clone wars

the clone wars

What's in a name? Granted NYC School Help is lame. If I had thought another minute, I probably could have come up with something better, but when you search "joyce" or "help! schools" I figured it would be likely to come up in the search. Lately there has been a rash of similarly named schools that have occasionally been scrambling my brain.

Read More

nursery school hysteria

Here is the problem. There are many people in a small space who all want passionately, and they want it NOW. Their main source of information is other people in the same boat who have a lot of fear but no accurate information or experience.

Here is the result. Unnecessary fear, misunderstanding, rigidness that creates hysteria, promotes wrong headed decisions and sets up a climate that is unhealthy for the schools, the children and the parents. You are doing it to yourselves, people.

Read More

public prek primer 2013

Public Prek is the fours year. They are housed in public schools and they are free for everyone, no matter your income (the "universal" in UPK). Some programs are half day and some are full day (it depends on what the school provides) and they are all 5 days programs.

When the DoE releases this year's information it will be located here.
The application period for prek begins March 4, 2013.
The application deadline is April 5, 2013.
You will hear about your placement in early June.
Registration for prek will be June 5 - June 19.

Read More

seats available in new nursery program at St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier School in the north slope (President St. between 6th and 7th Ave.) is adding a threes program to their prek to 8th grade school. Dorothy Taylor, the new principal, took me on a tour the other day. She is new to the school and bringing energy and innovation to the program. It will be a 5 day program with the option of full or half day. The tuition is very reasonable. There is an open house every Thurs. 9am or call and make an appointment for another time 718-857-2559 or ask questions by

The classrooms are large and bright. There is a separate little wing for the early childhood classes. She is developing a large indoor playspace in one room and has plans to update a section of the yard for the little ones. The class sizes are small and there is availability in both the threes and fours classrooms. Children wear St. Francis t-shirts and sweats and there is introduction to religion; celebrating holidays, bible stories and moral teachings. She is expanding their enrichments with music and movement.

They have applied for UPK funding and are waiting to hear if they can offer a subsidized program next year.

schoolfest in williamsburg and greenpoint

Town Square's Schoolfest, the wonderful annual school "open house" is being held on Sat. September, 17 from noon to 4pm

in the Harry Van Arsdale Campus, 257 N. 6th St. near Driggs Ave. (home to Brooklyn Prep High School, Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design and Williamsburg Prep).

There will be a wealth of local programs represented. They invite all schools, day care to high school - private and public, in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, to a single venue to promote their schools and programs. 50 schools and organizations are coming!

I will also be there doing seminars sponsored by Schoolfest.
12:00 Prek and Kindergarten Application Process
1pm Middle School Application Process
2pm High School Application Process

I got a call today from a very happy kindergarten parent, whose child is in the dual language French program at PS 110. This program will be recruiting interested families for next year as will the growing dual language Spanish program at PS 84. Come and check out those as well as all the other wonderful neighborhood options.

Trilok Fusion Center for Arts & Education

Trilok is the Sanskrit word that means "three worlds"; the world of the family, the educators and the place where they all come together to create a safe, nurturing, dynamic and creative environment for children to grow.

Trilok Fusion Center for Arts & Education is a very unique combination of Arts and Community Center and a progressive preschool that is growing to 8th grade. They have found a wonderful new home at 143 Waverly Ave. in Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill. The building is vast (22,000 sq.ft) and renovated in bright pop art colors and it will house the current growing preschool and studios for local artists and events. They plan to integrate the community and artists with the school to provide a rich environment for all the participants.

The school features an international outlook, language, Gandhian principals, a story telling/hands on curriculum, rich art and dance programs including an extensive weaving classroom and yoga.

They are currently registering kids for their 10th summer camp program for kids from 2 to 15 years from July 5th through Aug. 26. Programs include Weaving & Sewing, Music & Dance, Cooking & Gardening, Art & Theatre. For more information: or call 718-797-1700.

Dillon Child Study Center

Dillon Child Study Center is a long standing (75 years), child centered preschool program in Ft. Greene Brooklyn. This school has large and sunny classrooms and a well equipped outdoor play space where kids can ride bikes and scooters. Their age cutoff is Dec. 31 like NYC public schools.

One thing that sets Dillon apart from other fine preschool programs is their association with St. Joseph's College. They are a "laboratory preschool" with the full complement of long time, full time, paid teachers and a multitude of college students getting their field work experience in the classroom. The college students are not counted in the official student:teacher ratio, which averages to about 6:1 (those numbers are dependent on age). They are required to do 5 hours a week. When they graduate from this 4 year program, they will have both Special Ed and General Ed certification for Birth through 6th grade. The kids often call them "my college student".

Dillon has a 5 day a week schedule but depending on the age of the preschool students it may be a part time or full time schedule offered. The Director, Susan Straut-Collard, said that they believe that the consistency of a daily schedule is important for the children's development. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule may look like it makes sense to you as a parent, but to a child who doesn't know the days of the week, it just may appear to be random.

I asked her, "how would you describe 'child centered'?" And she told me a story about a child who was interested in Jackson Pollack. The other kids in the class didn't know who that was, so the teacher showed them examples of his paintings. The kids thought that the paintings looked pretty easy to do, so when they came in the next day, the floor was covered with paper and the kids were immediately put into smocks to try it for themselves. They wanted to see what a real Jackson Pollack looked like so they went on a trip to visit one in person. From this little seed, grew 8 months of "inquiry", many trips to museums and the study of lots of other painters. Child centered means following the interests of the class to enrich the embedded learning. Dillon is not an academic program in the preschool years and current progressive studies have shown that enriched play is extremely important for children's academic development. Another thing that is a little unusual about Dillon is that they have a kindergarten class, which is the first academic year and prepares students for both public and private first grade placements.

Their last tour this year is Wed. March 2, but if you have missed that you should contact Susan Straut-Collard, 718.940.5689.

If you have arrived late on the scene and missed the regular admissions season, all the Preschool Directors recommend contacting them and staying in touch through the spring and summer and you may very well be lucky if there is last minute attrition, which happens more often than you think.

2009 Twins Nursery School Survey

I have heard, mostly from Manhattan experts, that a family of twins needs to apply to 10-12 nursery programs to gain entrance. I have also talked to people who "heard about parents of multiples" (urban folklore alert) that didn't get any acceptances to nursery programs. When I inquired further it turns out that they got a space off the waitlist shortly after the acceptances went out.

All of this anxiety seemed out of snyc with what I know about Brooklyn admissions. I wanted to get some data. Last month I ran a survey for the Brooklyn Brownstone Parents of Twins Club. 19 families responded. 1 family was very unhappy with their experience and didn't gain acceptance to a school, but they also didn't answer most of the other questions so it was difficult to get a picture of their situation. All the rest of the 18 families either got an acceptance right away or were taken off the waitlist. The most surprising result was that 14 families applied to 1 to 3 prorgams and the other four applied to 4 to 6 programs. Only a few families were trying for the occasional independent school. I will be doing this survey every year to continue to collect data, and I hope that we will find out more about the independent schools twin admissions in the future. Nursery school directors love twins. Looking for spots for twins is not the same as looking for two singletons. So POTs, take heart! It is not purely a matter of math. Here are the results:

Read More

Intro to Nursery School Talk

I will be talking about
* nursery school philosophies
* what to look for on a tour
* what you need to know to keep the search under control and in perspective
* Lots of Q&A.

I won't be discussing individual schools at this event
$20. for an individual /$30. for a family

Tuesday, August 11 at 7pm - 8:30pm
at NYC Explorers 388 Atlantic Ave. (between Hoyt and Bond)

Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 10am - 11:30am
at Hootenanny Art House 15th St. (@ 8th Ave. Brooklyn)

Thursday, Sept. 24 at 7pm - 8:30pm
at Still Hip 283 Grand (between Lafayette and Clinton Pl.)

The Coop School

Brownstoner brought us great news that the Coop School has a new home. It will be located at 87 Irving Place between Putnam Ave. and Fulton St. in Clinton Hill. I just got done talking with them and I have a few more details.

They are expanding to 5 classrooms, starting age 2 and exiting age 5 in September. They will be able to let in 50-60 families as opposed to 10-15 in their existing space. They also have a space available to rent. The ideal tenant would offer other programs that would benefit the community at large such as an after school, child/family therapy, or regular events.

Park Slope School House and PreK

Thanks to the Park Slope Parents Listserve and Gowanus Lounge for bringing us news of the Park Slope School House (formerly the Berkeley Carroll Child Care Center). There are ongoing tours. Call Natasha Corlette at (718) 768-4873 to schedule a tour. They will stay in their location on 6th St. until they are able to move to their new location, anticipated to be in the South Slope on 5th Ave.
The Director will be Ashley Davis who is the current Director of the Berkeley Carroll Child Care Center. They are hoping to keep all of the teachers and staff of BCCCC in their respective roles at the new school.

For those of you that are looking for a Public PreK program. You should sign the petition for an Early Childhood Center in District 15. There is some talk about the 14th St. Armory as a possible location. I have heard Brad Lander's name associated with interest in this project several times. I would contact him as well as all of the candidates coming up for City Council election if you are feeling strongly about this issue. Contact Jim Brennan's office as well.

All Hail Sunset Park Parents!

The parents in Sunset Park are awesome. I attended a town hall meeting last night in celebration of their 40 year effort (supported by hundreds of parent activists and community organizers, yes!) The auditorium was packed to capacity with standing room spilling out into the halls.

Sunset Park has schools! A brand spanking new state of the art, 1650 seat HS building is going up on 34th St. and 4th Ave. to open Sept. 09. The construction authority was there to give progress reports (not grades.) It is on schedule.
This school that has already chosen it’s Principal, Corrine Vinal (a longtime educator and experienced administrator). It will have three learning communities within the school: Performing and Visual Arts, Health and Human Services, Business and Entrepreneurship. The themes were chosen by the community, as was the currently unprecedented model of having one principal to oversee the school. It is not a screened program. They are focused on college prep and there is priority for Brooklyn students.

8th graders, if you want to place this school on your list of 12, this is how you do it. It sounds weird, but it IS the procedure straight from the DOE. This school will not be listed in the directory. Don’t panic. Fill out your application. Don’t list Sunset Park HS yet. Hand in your registration on or before the appointed day in the fall. File a NEW FORM during the February 2009 application period for new schools. This form overrides the previous form. Rank Sunset Park High School along with your other schools in the order you want them. If you have questions about admission call OSEPO (212) 374-2363. If you have questions about the high school call the Sunset Park Task Force (718) 788-3500.

But wait there is more…for you preschoolers. There is a brand new public Early Childhood Center being built on 4th Ave. and 64th St. (on the 4th Ave. subway line) The first green designed school in Brooklyn. It will house 18 classrooms PreK through 2nd grade. It opens in 2010. This is a trend that local principals endorse. As the Elementary Schools become more crowded and PreK programs lose their spots, it makes more sense to group the PreKs into a centralized site. More on that later.

...heh Park Slope Parents, that sounds like a good idea! What is the Diocese doing with the St. Thomas Aquinas school building on 4th Ave. and 9th St? Would it be enough PreK seats for everybody who wants one, and relieve the overcrowding in all of our Kindergarten classes? You guys need to start making some calls.