YM & YWHA
New York City
Washington Heights
& Inwood Manhattan

ymywha

Susan Herman
Director of Early Childhood Services
YM & YWHA
of Washington Heights & Inwood
http:www.ywashhts.org
54 Nagle Avenue, New York 10040
(212) 569-6200 x224

 

Manhattan Kids Guide recently sat down with Susan Herman, Director of Early Childhood Services at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood, to talk about “The Transition to Kindergarten Fair.”

S.H.:
The Transition to Kindergarten Fair is a community event wherein we invite schools of choice, zoned schools and independent schools that are available for our community to apply to. We invite the school to come in and present their programs to our families.

M.K.G.:.
Can you talk about these three different kinds of schools – zoned, choice and independent – starting with zoned schools first?

S.H.:
Zoned schools are the schools that you would go to depending on where you live. If you’re typing your address into the Department of Education website it will tell you where your zoned school is. Even with your zoned school, at the kindergarten level, there is no guarantee that your child will have a seat.  Therefore it is very important that families visit their zoned schools early in the enrollment period to fill out the required paperwork.   There is a specific enrollment period that starts usually in January.

M.K.G.:
What are schools of choice?

S.H.
Schools of choice are usually those that will accept children who live within the school’s district.  Many of these schools have a lottery system for admission. You go to the school on a tour and then you get an application and if your child is selected you get an invitation. Those schools usually have sibling preferences, so siblings will automatically get in which reduces the amount of seats that are available for people that are just going through the lottery.

M.K.G.:
And independent schools?

S.H.
Independent schools are private schools. You would need to pay tuition to go to those but many of them offer financial assistance to families who qualify.

M.K.G.:
What is it like at a YM & YWHA Transition to Kindergarten Fair?

S.H.:
This year we had it set up as a fair - we don’t always do it the same way. But this year because we had so many schools participating, we eliminated the five minute presentations we’ve had in previous years. Each school had a table containing brochures, photographs, whatever it is that they wanted to bring in order to disseminate information. And then the families were invited to visit each of the tables and ask questions of the school’s representatives.

M.K.G.:
 I noticed there were both representatives as well as parents from the schools, which was helpful for getting a sense of the school.

S.H..:
 Yes, we have heads of schools coming - we also have admissions officers and parent representatives.

M.K.G.:
When is this event, usually held?

S.H.
The Transition to Kindergarten Fair is usually held in October, on the third Thursday at 6:00PM and it’s open to the entire community of Washington Heights and Inwood in Manhattan.

M.K.G.:
And, it’s free to attend?

S.H.:
Yes, it is free and offered by the Y as a community service to families.

 

 

“The Transition to Kindergarten Fair”

It is one of the ways that the YM & YWHA
helps Northern Manhattan Families
make the Transition from Pre-K
to Kindergarten

 

M.K.G.:
Can you tell me a little bit about some of the early childhood programs here at YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood that parents can enroll their kids in prior to kindergarten?

S.H.:
Within the early childhood department, we start with programs for one and two year olds. For our youngest students, we offer parent and me programs, and then, for two year olds, we have a two-day/week program where children eventually participate independently,  Our nursery school for three and four year olds is a hands-on, interactive program incorporating the curriculum areas within units of study that are based on student interest.  We have a variety of options including full day programs, half day programs as well as a completely tuition free Universal Pre-K program.

M.K.G.:
Tell me about your communication with parents who have children in the program and how it helps with the transition to Kindergarten?

M.K.G.:
One of the things we try to do is alert parents to the dates on the timelines for when they should apply to the various types of kindergarten programs.  The Department of Education as well as a variety of independent schools send us information both electronically and in hard-copy and we share it with our families. We do try to help the students and families through the whole process including submitting school reports and talking with families about the best school options for their children.

M.K.G.:
Regarding attending the Transition to Kindergarten Fair, can parents learn more about school tours?

S.H.:
Yes. Schools offer tours and open houses usually starting in October. With some schools, families need to go on a tour in order to get an application. It is a good idea to take school tours, because schools have different philosophies as well as different approaches to teaching and learning. And it is important to know which one is the best fit for your child.

M.K.G.
What about the Gifted and Talented programs and the Hunter programs?


S.H.:
Those programs require testing. New York City has required a test for the Gifted and Talented program that is given in January. Families need to submit a request for testing form in October and November. Then you get a date and it’s usually done on the weekend. The test itself actually changes often. This year, they are using the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test along with the OLSAT from previous years. 

M.K.G.
Hunter does testing also?

S.H.:
Yes, Hunter has its own required testing, but then you have to go see a private psychologist. There’s a fee for this but it can be waived if you have need. The independent schools have testing also. You can end up having your child taking two to three different tests which can be anxiety producing for families.

M.K.G.:
You help parents through this process?

S.H.:
Yes, parents are always welcome to come to me with questions. Am I doing the right thing? Am I applying to the right schools? Am I forgetting anything? Is there any school you would recommend for my child?  We work to support parents as much as possible through the process.

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