28 Sep When a Preschool Admissions Director Applies to Preschool
I became a preschool teacher at Montclare Children’s School in 2005, before meeting my husband and way before having two children of my own. From the moment I set foot in the classroom, I began imagining my own future little-one coming to Montclare. I could picture him trailing a finger along the hallway singing, “Put Your Finger on the Wall” to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” Other times, I imagined her singing songs in music with Noel, making first friends and even my first Parent/Teacher conference, all in a place where I have come to care for and respect each and every teacher.
But then, life happens. You get married and have real children. Your English husband yearns for a “garden” or as I call it, a backyard, where the kids and the dog can run around. Long Island, where I grew up, is now the place we call home and this year it was time to start searching for a preschool for my son. For many reasons, I needed to let go of the dream of bringing my child along with me every day to experience what I love about the preschool where I work. Being a practical person, I focused in on finding the right preschool close to home.
The Preschool Application Process where I live is slightly different from what you experience in Manhattan. Well, really, you might say that it is very different.
In August, I signed my son up for preschool and he started two weeks later. Yep. That was that!
As I am currently the Director of Admissions for Montclare, I was a bit surprised at how simple that part of the process was. However, sending your child off to preschool certainly isn’t just about the application process or being accepted to a program. In looking at different preschools on Long Island, I experienced much of the same anxiety parents express when speaking to me about applying in Manhattan. What will my baby’s first day of school be like? Where and how will he be spending his days? What will drop-off be like (with him waving goodbye after a kiss and a hug as I walk away holding in my own tears)?
As an Admissions Director, and having been an Early Childhood Educator in a classroom for two-year-olds, I figured I had this preschool thing all figured out. First, I would check the licensing, I would tour, I would talk to the Director and every and any parent at the school willing to speak to me. Yet, in the end, all of those things weren’t what led me to my final decision. In fact, I went with my gut. Where did I receive the warmest welcome? At which preschool did my child run into the classroom and not want to leave? Did teachers smile at me and embrace my child? Where did I feel heard and respected?
I must confess that I got so wrapped up in all the worry and fear about picking the “best” program, that I momentarily forgot that preschool is fun! The “right” preschool is a place where my child will laugh, learn, grow, make friends and, hey, maybe even a place where my husband and I will make some new grown-up friends of our own! A community.
It is easy to get swept-up in the research and hype. Having sat on both sides of the desk now, I can tell you that when you find the right place, you will know. And guess what, even on this other island, there is a right place for each child and every family. So as you go on your tours and take your children to their play-sessions and play-dates, please remember, there is a classroom for your child.
I certainly hope you will find it, here at Montclare! 🙂
~ Ashley Warren
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