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Old 02-07-2013, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
1,350 posts, read 3,282,130 times
Reputation: 402

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I need some advice regarding preschools in the East End. We live in Squirrel Hill near the Children's Institute so our neighborhood feeder school is Colfax. We currently have a part time nanny for our two kids ages 2 & 1 who cares for them when my wife is working. We will probably have a third child at some point in the near future but nothing is immediately on the horizon in that regard. Our two year old's birthday is in mid October. When do we need to start looking for preschool? Do they generally charge $$$ upfront to hold your spot or do you just pay when you start? Any specific suggestions of which ones to check out or avoid? How do I start the process? Do they have open houses or do I just start calling for private tours? Do any have significant entry requirements other than having parents willing to fork over the dough? My understanding is the only school that is "hard" to get into is Falk which is a school that doesn't really appeal to me anyway (on paper at least, haven't toured it myself).

We haven't decided on private vs. public school long term, currently leaning towards trying public and seeing how it goes. This is for a few reasons but obviously the cost is a significant part of the equation. We have good jobs and are willing to do whatever is needed to give our kids the best, but we're not independently wealthy either so there are definitely other things we'd rather do with the tuition money. I'm not sure it matters if we decided we want to use, say, WT or Ellis (neither of which I really like all that much, albeit for different reasons... again on paper at least) for k-12, would it matter if our kids went there for preschool too? The same finance concept applies to preschool, we are willing to pay whatever we need to, but don't want to "waste" money either on something that doesn't matter a whole lot.

I will mention this because I think it might be relevant to some of the options. I was raised catholic, we were married in a catholic church, but haven't really been to church outside of special occasions for several years. Not really looking specifically for a religious school, but not opposed to one with a mild religious bent to it either.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:56 AM
 
Location: O'Hara Twp.
4,336 posts, read 6,467,583 times
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I don't have anything to add regarding wait lists but two nice preschools not affiliated with private schools are Shadyside Presbyterian Church and Shady Lane School.

Am I assuming correctly that your kids will go to Colfax and not a magnet. In other words they are guaranteed a spot. If you are trying for a magnet and if you don't get in and then want to go private that is something else. I don't see a real advantage to sending your kids to preschool at WT, etc. unless you anticipate sending them to a private school you may have get a preference if you send them to preschool at the school.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:17 AM
 
606 posts, read 843,391 times
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Question: Are you looking for more-or-less full time preschool (and no nanny, when the time comes)? That will affect where you can go; a majority of the preschools I know of in/near the East End do not offer anything close to a full day before pre-K.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
1,350 posts, read 3,282,130 times
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We live in Colfax feeder pattern so have a spot at a "good" public school by default. Linden is actually a lot closer and only a couple blocks away (we often use the playground there when the weather is nice). Have not made any definitive decisions about magnet schools, but don't know of a reason to pursue one, particularly at the elementary level, unless someone can tell me otherwise.

The private schools would be more of a consideration because (like most parents) we want "the best" for our kids. I am a little skeptical of the quality of public schools in general and Pittsburgh City schools do little to alleviate my concerns. It boils down to (more or less) that I don't want the government raising my kids. That said, I'm willing to keep an open mind about our neighborhood schools since most people seem to find them pretty good and I'm already paying for them. I'm smart enough to realize that there is much more to a kid's success than what school they went to, but also smart enough to realize it not irrelevant either.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
1,350 posts, read 3,282,130 times
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Stigl-- I'm not sure what the best way to work in the childcare requirement (both for our younger daughter and possibly a third child at some point as well as for our older daughter when preschool isn't in session) with the preschool schedule. Part of the puzzle to figure out I guess. Currently we have the Nanny tues/wed/thurs but my wife makes her own schedule so we could do whatever.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Charlotte
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Years ago, my siblings went to the JCC preschool (we're not Jewish) - it was very good. Swimming instruction was included.
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:45 PM
 
357 posts, read 814,547 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bong477 View Post
I need some advice regarding preschools in the East End. We live in Squirrel Hill near the Children's Institute so our neighborhood feeder school is Colfax. We currently have a part time nanny for our two kids ages 2 & 1 who cares for them when my wife is working. We will probably have a third child at some point in the near future but nothing is immediately on the horizon in that regard. Our two year old's birthday is in mid October. When do we need to start looking for preschool? Do they generally charge $$$ upfront to hold your spot or do you just pay when you start? Any specific suggestions of which ones to check out or avoid? How do I start the process? Do they have open houses or do I just start calling for private tours? Do any have significant entry requirements other than having parents willing to fork over the dough? My understanding is the only school that is "hard" to get into is Falk which is a school that doesn't really appeal to me anyway (on paper at least, haven't toured it myself).
We live in this general area too (but more towards Forbes). You should be looking at preschools now, if you haven't already done so because there are waiting lists. Don't wait any longer.

I think most of the preschools charge a small fee when you send in your application (to get on the waiting list). There may be a further deposit once you get in and choose to commit to a preschool.

For preschool what we did was have a nanny. We'd take the kids to preschool in the AM, and then the nanny would pick them up after preschool and watch them until we came home from work. That worked pretty (especially if your nanny can come in on days when there is no school or the kids are sick).

For the 2 year old age, we used Kentucky Ave preschool first (because we had just moved here and were wait listed everywhere else). For later kids we switched to Carriage House's two morning 2's program mainly because it was within walking distance of our house and Kentucky Ave required driving for drop off. Both schools were fine. For 3, 4, and Kindergarten ages we used Carnegie-Mellon Children's School which is located on the CMU campus and operated by the CMU Psyc department (as a lab school). We liked that school alot. (Don't confuse it with the CMU Cyert Center... that is the daycare/preschool on CMU campus that is very hard to get into from what I can tell).

To start the process: google the schools. The schools typically have some open houses and you can always call or visit to ask questions if their web site doesn't cover it. Make a short list and start sending off applications. Getting in is mainly determined by your position on the waiting list... most schools have sibling priority, so folks who are already using (or have used) a school are going to get in before you.

Falk doesn't start until Kindergarten as far as I know, so don't worry about that one for preschool.

You are going to face the birthday issue with your two year old because an October birthday may be after the cutoff for starting normal school (the deadline used to be Sept 1 for PPS, but they may have moved it to Oct 1?). Some parents of kids with Fall birthdays have their kids repeat kindergarten to avoid having their kids be the youngest/smallest in their class. For example, we know several families that did Kindergarten at CMU Children's School and then had their kid repeat Kindergarten again the next year (e.g. at Falk, Colfax, WT, ...). I wouldn't worry about it too much now, but something to think about further down the line.

I think if you are going to go the private route for K-5, it is going to be easier to get in if you start with Kindergarten at the private school. My impression is that it would be harder to get in for 1st grade, though I can't say for sure as we went the Colfax route with all 3 of our kids.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Squirrel Hill
1,350 posts, read 3,282,130 times
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Looking online,

"Through school year 2011-2012, a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if
s/he has attained the age of five (5) before the first day of September. The Board
may admit a child with a chronological age of four (4) years to Kindergarten who
has demonstrated readiness for entry in accordance with the District’s early
admittance process. Early admittance may be considered upon parental request,
recommendation by a District school psychologist and approval by the
Superintendent. A child whose chronological age is less than five (5) before
September 1 is in no way guaranteed early admittance under this policy."

So basically we need to choose if we want her to be the youngest or oldest in her grade and if our kids will be 1 or 2 years apart in school. Probably would error on the side of being the oldest, doesn't seem like much downside to that as opposed to a lot of potential downside starting too early.

Do most people (who don't care about the daycare aspect of school) do a year of preschool?
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:20 PM
 
Location: O'Hara Twp.
4,336 posts, read 6,467,583 times
Reputation: 1602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bong477 View Post
Looking online,

"Through school year 2011-2012, a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if
s/he has attained the age of five (5) before the first day of September. The Board
may admit a child with a chronological age of four (4) years to Kindergarten who
has demonstrated readiness for entry in accordance with the District’s early
admittance process. Early admittance may be considered upon parental request,
recommendation by a District school psychologist and approval by the
Superintendent. A child whose chronological age is less than five (5) before
September 1 is in no way guaranteed early admittance under this policy."

So basically we need to choose if we want her to be the youngest or oldest in her grade and if our kids will be 1 or 2 years apart in school. Probably would error on the side of being the oldest, doesn't seem like much downside to that as opposed to a lot of potential downside starting too early.

Do most people (who don't care about the daycare aspect of school) do a year of preschool?
You probably won't have a choice. I have heard that schools rarely let kids enroll early.
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:17 PM
 
357 posts, read 814,547 times
Reputation: 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by robrobrob View Post
You probably won't have a choice. I have heard that schools rarely let kids enroll early.
What we did was use a preschool/kindergarten that had a Dec deadline. Then we switched to Colfax for 1st grade. They didn't give us any trouble, even though our kid was born after the September 1 deadline. Maybe having already completed kindergarten helped? The nice thing about using the PPS feeder school is that we could put off the decision on going to 1st grade vs repeating kindergarten until after current kindergarten was over.
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