The wonderful thing about raising children in New York City is that we have so many options for educating our children. The nightmare is navigating all of those options, particularly at the nursery school level when your child is barely beginning to walk and talk when you have to decide on the “right” school. Most nursery schools are independent early childhood centers whose educational philosophies can vary significantly, from play-based to traditional, from Montessori to Reggio Emilia, with many combining approaches. Families should take the time to explore all of their options in making a considered decision, keeping in mind that the “right” school is the one that most fits your priorities for your child’s first school experience.



If your child will be between 18 months and four years of age next September, there are a number of toddler and nursery school programs available for your consideration. You can get an overview of programs through books like Victoria Goldman’s Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools or by exploring the website for the Independent School Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), which has links to its member schools. Once you’ve done some research decided on a philosophical approach, you can formulate your list. Be honest about your needs: convenience of location and available schedules are as important as educational philosophy. Also make sure your child meets the school’s age cutoff. We generally recommend a list of 6-10 schools depending on your location.

Ideally, you'll be submitting your applications in the September before your child actually begins school (a full year ahead), so do your research early so that you’re ready to submit. Keep in mind though that there may still be choices available if you’re late starting your search.



If you schedule a one-on-one session with a Smart City Kids Advisor, one of the first things we'll help you do is narrow your focus. Before we meet, we'll send you a questionnaire that will help you think through what you want in a school for your child and for your family. During our meeting, we will spend time with you in advance of meeting your child and talk further about your goals. A detailed discussion of your child and your priorities will help us assess schools that would be a good match.

The first step towards improving your child's chance to be accepted at the schools you want is to apply to schools where the fit is right. Schools will be assessing fit as carefully as you will be, so if you get that right, you are already one step ahead. We'll talk with you about why we think the school is right for your family, what the environment and culture are like at these schools, and how competitive each school is. If, after you visit the recommended schools, you feel the need for more choices, we can suggest other options. But our goal is to point you to the right options immediately so you don't waste time or feel overwhelmed with possibilities.

If you decide to work through the full admissions process with Smart City Kids, we will do a home visit to meet your child, provide our assessment of your child’s developmental skills and school readiness, and revisit your school list in context. We will work with you on essays, helping you present a realistic, appealing picture of your child and a clear expression of what you are looking for in a school. We’ll discuss the all-important touring and interview process, focusing on what you should be looking for (and how the schools are looking at you), as well as expectations for your child during the “play visit.” Finally, we’ll strategize together as you prioritize your list, communicate with the schools and make choices from the offers you receive.

For more information, call Smart City Kids at (212) 249-4066 or e-mail us at info@smartcitykids.com