Letter from the Editor January 2011

Jenna Hammond

A friend recently asked me to look over the essay she had written for her son's preschool applications. Gaining admittance to school, including many public schools, is a major feat in New York City. The local public school system is the largest in the world. Upwards of 1 million students attend 1,500 public schools, which run the gamut of deplorable to commendable. And there's not room or resources for every student seeking a spot in class. It's indicative of the horrendous disparity of public education nationwide. Moreover, NYC private schools, many costing more than tuition for Ivy League institutions, lack the space to accommodate the many eager families willing to shell out $30,000+ a year for a child's preschool tuition. What's a parent to do?

Should my friend capitalize on her son's hankering for hip-hop music, or might that indicate a disobedient temperament when her son is dutiful? What about revealing that the family watches television together, a pastime frowned upon by education experts and other parents alike?

The friend in question wonderfully wrote about her son's affinity for performance, sense of compassion and inner brilliance. Along the way, she realized that the anxiety-filled process of getting a child into school is more about finding the school with the best fit than making a perfect impression among all admissions personnel. Not every administrator might consider her son's prowess at imitating Michael Jackson as ideal. But the ones who saw the merits in her son's ability to master dance moves and comprehend the intricacies in TV shows would be apt to handpick students like her son for their well fitting schools.

As you endeavor to determine the best schools for your children, flip to "So Many Choices" by Jenifer Wana. Public, private, religious-based, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and play-based, all types of schools are up for consideration when reading the article that discusses the essentials of evaluating particular schools to see if they meet your family's ideals and your children's personalities. Also learn about admissions deadlines and requirements, as well as how to narrow down the possibilities to select the schools where your kids will thrive. As a bonus for all you parents vying for the most selective schools, the sidebar offers pointers for gaining admittance into competitive preschools.

The perfect follow up to the article is the Education Directory, which spotlights some of the greatest preschools, elementary schools, enrichment services, afterschool programs and resources in your neighborhood. Access the complete directory for the tri-state area on www.parentguidenews.com. You'll also find our Birthday, Camp, Health & Fitness and Special Needs Directories on the site.

Are you more focused on parenting your perhaps still crawling infant than getting your child into school? Then turn to "Tummy Time by Melissa Silvestro, OTR/L. Many little ones balk at tummy time. But Silvestro, a pediatric occupational therapist, gives guidance and activities to encourage even the most fussy infants to develop shoulder, arm and hand strength, as well as other crucial capabilities, while on their bellies. A bonus here is that your child will be amassing the capacity to have solid handwriting skills once school is in the picture.

Wherever your children are in their development, happy 2011! May the year ahead be educational, encouraging and loving for you all.

Enjoy the issue.

Jenna Hammond