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Choosing an elementary school for your child can be a daunting process. Here are some pointers to help you make the best choice.
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Choosing an elementary school for your child can be a daunting process. In the Bay Area, we have many choices, which is good and bad news. The good news is that there are many options and types of schools in both the public and private arenas. The bad news is that it takes a lot of time to research the options, many private schools are selective, and you don’t always get your first choice.
Here are a few tips that will help you get started in the process and make a decision that will work for your child and family.
If you live on The Peninsula and you are considering private elementary schools, be sure to attend the Parents Place Private Elementary School Fair on October 13th in our San Mateo office from 5:30 -7:30pm. Our fair is the only one of its kind on the Peninsula. You will have the opportunity to meet representatives from 35 schools located from Hillsborough to Half Moon Bay to Los Gatos and in between—all under one roof! Click here to register and see the complete list of participating schools!
If your child’s birthday falls between September 1 and December 1, he may have the option to attend transitional kindergarten in your public school. There may be some private schools that will accept him, but there are others that expect children to be 5 by August 1 or even earlier.
The application or registration process for kindergarten starts a year before your child could start school. The summer is a good time to begin to research your options. The fall is when private school open houses take place, applications are made available, you can schedule school visits and testing dates, and preschool teachers should be given recommendations to write.
Some public school districts have informational meetings in the fall. December is a good time to work on completing private school applications because most are due in early January. Registration for public schools begins in January and February. To register for kindergarten, you will have to show proof of residency in the district and your child’s birth certificate to verify age eligibility.
If you live in a school district where there are choices about what school to attend, you will probably have to fill out an application form and enter a lottery. Acceptance to private schools and public school lottery results usually come out in March and April, and you will need to make a decision about your child’s school relatively quickly. Private schools will require that you send in a deposit to reserve your child’s space in the incoming kindergarten class. Information about openings that are available to children on public or private school wait lists can come out anytime between May and early September. Public school district and private school websites are the best sources for information about dates and deadlines. It’s very important that you follow these schedules.
Parents Place Private Elementary School Fair – San Mateo Parents Place – Tuesday, 10/13
Private Elementary School Admissions Panel Discussion – Palo Alto Parents Place – Monday, 10/19
Stephanie Agnew, BA, is the Parent Education Coordinator at San Mateo Parents Place. To reach her for an individual consultation about school choices, please call 650-688-3046.
Stephanie coordinates all parent workshops at our Parents Place San Mateo location, where she also teaches classes on preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school choices; positive discipline; and behavior management for young children. She also leads teacher training workshops, consults with families on many parenting and child development issues, and observes children in their homes and at their schools. An expert in early childhood education, Stephanie taught in Palo Alto area preschools for 20 years and owned a preschool for 5 years. She received additional professional training at the Bing Nursery School at Stanford University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree.
Parents Place is the Bay Area's leading family resource center. From everyday issues to challenges requiring specialized assessment and intervention, Parents Place helps parents, caregivers, and educators support children at all ages. Parents Place professionals offer parenting workshops, parent coaching and consultation, child behavior and school support, clinical and special needs services, parent/child activity groups, and child and family therapy. Join the Parents Place community online or in San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties. Parents Place is a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services and serves families of all faiths. For more information, visit www.parentsplaceonline.com.
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