Pre-School Fair This Thursday

Thinking of applying to private pre-school for your little one? BECDA Schools, the Brooklyn Early Childhood Directors’ Association is holding an early education fair this Thursday, September 22nd.

Brooklyn School Fair


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  • StudioBrooklyn

    Having gone through the whole Universal vs Private Pre-K process, I have Many Opinions to share. For now I’ll just say that my wife is a huge fan of Dr. Laura’s “Peaceful Parenting” forum, and my wife is smart like a new bag of razors, so if you have young kids it’s probably worth it to hear what Dr. Laura has to say.

  • David on Middagh

    Since when is pre-school fair any day of the week? :)

  • Curious Parent

    As a parent about to begin the process I’m curious as to what age she recommends starting preschool if at all. Most private schools start at two and require attending full day by the age of four.
    Some countries, due to research, are delaying the age of preschool because of the stress hormones it produces. Many also have shorter days.
    On the few private school tours I’ve attended so far they appeared to be combining playbased time with direct academic instruction. What does she recommend, purely play based?

  • StudioBrooklyn

    As I suggested, the Peaceful Parenting stuff is more my wife’s realm. My understanding is that the whole UPK system was based, at least in part, on studies that concluded that children who attend preschool are advantaged later in life, to say nothing of the other benefits (such as a partial workday) provided to their parents.

    I’m not sure if such studies have looked at the long term effects of daycare from, say, age one or two, but from age 3/4 the science seems to support attendance.

    In preparing to send our kid to a pre-k/4s program this year we toured seven or eight programs within the neighborhood and also closer to my wife’s workplace, and found that the vast majority of them embraced play- and inquiry-based learning at this level. What seemed to vary more from pre-k to pre-k are things like amenities, apparent attentiveness of teachers, commute, etc. (I’d be happy to share my observations about local pre-ks in more detail if you’re interested.) You’d be hard pressed to find a classroom full of 4 year olds who are being made to sit and memorize facts.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    If you are comfortable sharing, what program did you settle on? My son is 3, and in preschool, so we are going through the process now. Happy to discuss offline if you are more comfortable (though don’t know how to coordinate).

  • Curious Parent

    While I know they are not sitting around memorizing facts the common core standards are having a trickle down effect and impacting the amount of self exploration and play in pre-k, even in some private schools. While there seemed to be a nice balance, the programs were more structured than I envisioned.
    I was just curious to see wether Dr. Laura supported a balance of the two or if purely play based, self exploration was preferred.
    Did you find public school programs that were mostly play based? We’re any of them half day programs?

  • StudioBrooklyn

    “Did you find public school programs that were mostly play based?”
    Yes, although I don’t think any program we looked at provided exclusively play-based learning. That might just be something that just can’t be built into a “universal” system of oversight (admins need measurable ways of assessing the program). You might want to talk to people in the neighborhood about the Brooklyn Free School, they might be more up that alley.

    “We’re any of them half day programs?”
    I’m sorry, I don’t recall. Most UPK programs run something like 9-3. Private schools offer half day 4s.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I don’t mind telling you that a sequence of events made it possible for us to send our kid to a private 4s program, one that is very highly regarded in the neighborhood*. We had not originally been considering this option because of the expense (more than state college tuition!!! WTF.) but something fell into our lap and we took it. We were left with some degree of expense, but after dealing with the racket-like process of UPK in Brooklyn Heights we decided it was the better option; more to the point, the private schools demand downpayments upon acceptance before the UPK registration window even closes.

    *When you eventually meet me in person, as a few people on here have, I’ll be happy to disclose details.

    Here are my gripes about UPK:

    1. It was rolled out in such a way that it’s done, in many cases, through private daycare centers. In underserved areas, this is probably an amazing thing, where the alternative for most kids would be to stay at home, in many cases not getting the best exposure to learning and growing opportunities. In our area, private daycares dominate the neighborhood; there’s practically one on every block, and the many that offer UPK are permitted to hold seats for children whose parents shelled out the $19k the year before to enroll them in a 3s program. This means that it’s only “free” for people who have already ostensibly paid their way in (plus the one or two other lucky kids from the neighborhood who raffle in).

    2. It didn’t seem that resources (all kinds–amenities, quality of staff, quality of facilities, etc.) were awarded evenly to UPK programs. New York Kids Club, for example, generates profit and has nicer facilities (with big windows) than the (prison-like) UPK program at CityTech (on Adams, near the Marriott). NYKC takes their kids to Pierrepont Playground every day, while the CityTech kids go outside much less frequently. There’s a UPK program downtown, just across the bridge, which has its own little playground, but it’s about 400 square feet and except for a wire fence is completely exposed to a busy commercial street. These kids need a bigger area to run around in and explore.

    3. As I mentioned above, the registration window closes well after the private schools finalize their enrollment. This limits the actual amount of choices parents have, to either private or UPK.

    4. Before they opened the Dock Street UPK (in the new middle school in Dumbo) our neighborhood was clearly underserved; NYKC famously advised parents of their 3s last year to not even bother registering for alternative programs, and when the time came were not able to offer UPK seats to all their 3s. I wasn’t one of those parents but perhaps someone reading would care to comment. I heard there was outrage.

    A note on structure vs. play: I’m a big fan of the idea of “wildnerness school” for kids, letting them get into trouble and take risks, but in practical terms that’s just something I think we sacrifice by living in the city. On a personal level, I feel we trade that in for the exceedingly beautiful, safe, and friendly atmosphere of this neighborhood. Within those parameters I try to be as hands-off and adopting of free-range parenting as possible, and I think kids benefit a lot just from learning how to make their way in the neighborhood without someone hovering over them; this is in part because on every block there seems to be someone out and about they know and can trust.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Aww jeez dad!!

  • AbeLincoln

    Sponsored by: “Schools you can’t get into”