Call 311, the new service that Bloomberg set up. They can tell you the names of all the pre-k schools in the area you want. My two children went to an Headstart program for half days (but they had full day students as well) on East 116. The address was:
East Harlem Council - Bilingual Head Start 440 East 116 Street 212.427.9010
My littlest attended for 2 years so they have nursery-age children as well. Any school you choose is going to have a mix of good and bad. My wife didn't like the teacher my daughter had, so we got her changed the following semester. She was then placed with the same teacher my son had the previous year. Both my children went on to place well with the Private School tests and currently attend a private school on the UES. Don't be too worried about how much your child will learn during pre-k. All schools and programs are mandated to comply with the states regulations so they all teach the minimum. If you child has that they are in great shape. More important is that the teachers work to develop the childs social skills and a keep learning fun for them. You will hear about people whose kids are reading before the start of kindergarten, but that is the exception, not the norm. Most kids are not. I'm by no means rich, but my daughter is a better reader than many of the kids whose parents pay the $30K yearly tuition at her school. After you get your child enrolled in pre-k, get signed up with a program called 'Early Steps'. What they do is encourage diversity (race, color, location, minority, economic, etc.) in the private schools in NYC area for families that generally wouldn't be able to afford the tuition. Basically everyone can qualify because we are all 'diverse' in some aspect. Best of all, many of its members sit on the boards of directors for the very schools you will be trying to get into later. We met the Head of Admissions for my children's school this way. They are a counseling service, they don't apply for you, but they will go over your applications, answer questions, prep your for interviews and more. They also put you on the track for a lot of the scholarship and grant money available for private school. Most of the testing and application fees my family had to pay were greatly discounted. In the end, my children were offered scholarships at 97 and 97.5%, which means I pay next to nothing each month for my child to attend a really great school. The whole process does take some time and effort on your part (tons of parent interviews and tours), but well worth it if you want your child to attend a private school.11939
I wish I could direct you to a good school, but I can tell you from recent personal experience do not go to Spuyten Duyvil located between West 230 and 231st street and Kingsbridge Avenue and the Riverdale Montessori School located on Mosholu a few blocks up from Van Cortlandt Park. My son attended Spuyten and I pulled him out in the beginning of December of 2007. After visiting a number of private schools I decided on the Riverdale Montessiori School. The owner/director has a heck of a sales pitch. He began in February of 2008 and I pulled him out in the beginning of March of 2008. I was paying $500.00 a month for 3 days a week 2 1/2 hour days. I could have used that $1,000.00 to bring a real private tutor to my home to help prepare my son for Kindergarten.11940
St. Barnabas in the North East Bronx has 2 Prek options. One for 3 year olds (all day or half day) and the other for 4 year olds. My little princess just finished her first year of pre k 3 and she LOVES it!
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