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I am a nervous wreck. My son is going to 8th grade in September and I feel anxious about the whole high school admission process. I know schools like it if you attend their open houses or tours, but how do I find out about them? How do I find out enough about the schools to make a choice? Is there anything we should be doing this spring?
Worried, anxious parent
Dear Worried, Anxious parent,
You are not alone. Thirteen is the age of anxiety for NYC parents and kids When kids reach that age, the prospect of high school applications looms in the not too distant future and provokes more than the usual concern over state tests and report cards.There is no getting around the challenges of high school admission, but there are ways to lessen the worry. As with most problems, being informed is the first step.
My teenagers want to work this summer – if they can find jobs. Any ideas about how they can find work when there is so much unemployment?
Mother of Teens
Dear Mother of Teens.
Teens are a vulnerable group when it comes to summer jobs. They have to plan and be very aggressive in the search. Here are some tried and true suggestions.
Gifted and talented results letters were sent to families last week, and since then our inbox has been full of G&T queries from parents of prospective kindergartners who must apply by April 20. Here are four questions that we answered.
- My 4-year-old is a smart guy. His teacher says he is ahead of the other kids in his pre-kindergarten class, but he got a really low score on the G&T test. He took it on a very cold day and he is rather shy. Can he retake the test? .
The short answer: not this year. There are no re-dos. If your child was ill on the test date, or if there was a problem with the administration of the exam, you had 48 hours to report the problem. He can test again next year when he is in kindergarten. Note, next year it will be it will be a different test mix. The OLSAT will be kept but the Bracken will be replaced by the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test [NNAT].
Our son used to be an A student but now he is getting Ds and Cs. He is a freshman in high school. The teachers tell me he does not do his homework. Sometimes he does it but forgets to hand it in. We can't figure out why he is no longer interested in school and we are getting worried!
High school parent.
Dear High School Parent,
High school is a big change for kids and sometimes they can be thrown off course. There may be any number of reasons your son is doing poorly. He could be affected by the extra work load, by having to deal with many teachers and students (depending on the size of his school), by a teacher who made an offhand comment about his academic skills, or a fellow student who disparaged him.
Indeed, there may be a deeper problem. When kids change their habits so drastically, it can be a mask for behind the scenes worries – most likely trouble with other kids at school. He may be finding it hard to make friends, he may be the target of bullies. He may be hanging around with other discouraged kids. There is lots of talk about bullying these days and his school should have instituted programs and discussions that offer kids a confidential way to report their problems. If not, take steps to see that they do. I recently wrote about this.
My 16 year old 10th grade daughter received a safety transfer from her very dangerous high school. How do I go about finding a new high school for her?
Confused and anxious
Dear Confused and Anxious.
Transfers are hard to get so your daughter’s experience in an unsafe school must have been harsh. Take the time to find a school that is known for a warm and nurturing atmosphere and which puts emphasis on respectful interactions among student and faculty.
Parents applying to kindergarten for fall 2012 still have questions as the pre-registration period draws to a close on March 2. Here are a few more questions that parents asked at our kindergarten workshop this month.1. If you apply to a school not in your zone or district before the deadline, do you take precedence over someone in the zone who has missed the deadline?
No, sorry, the school is required to serve its own zoned kids before anyone else whenever they show up unless the Education Department has agreed that the school has no room left and caps enrollment. In that case, out of zone kids would not have been accepted in the first place. When you register does not count – priorities do.
Applications for public school pre-kindergarten will be available March 5 online and at elementary schools and Education Department enrollment offices. Families must submit applications by April 5. Applications for programs located in community based organizations are separate and are now available online or at each agency that offers pre-kindergarten.
Any child who turns four years old in 2012 may apply, but seats are not guaranteed. While admissions to public school pre-k is not as competitive -- or as expensive -- as private school --in many areas of the city, such as the Upper East Side and Park Slope, there are not enough seats to meet the demand. Programs are housed in public schools or at local daycares and pre-schools, and are either half day (2.5 hours), or full day, (six hours and 20 minutes.)
How do you find out which schools and community centers offer programs? Early in March directories will be posted online, or you can get paper copies at schools, daycare and Head Start centers and borough enrollment offices.
My son has been physically attacked several times in elementary school – I call it bullying—but the classroom teacher is no help when it happens and the rest of the staff has not been helpful either. What can I do to help my son?
Frantic mother in Queens
Dear Frantic Mother in Queens,
Considering all the attention to combating bullying these days, it is really disheartening to hear that your school still has no clue about how to handle it. The week before schools closed for the winter break was Respect for All week – to highlight activities associated with the Department of Education program to combat bullying.
Ed Note: Parents of prospective pre-K and kindergarten students had lots of questions at the Feb. 8 Insideschools forum at the New School. There wasn’t time to answer each one individually, so we grouped together similar questions and Judy will answer them. Here, she tackles questions about schools that may not have enough room for all zoned students.
Q: My child falls into the second priority for admission to kindergarten. Within this second priority how is admissions decided? Is it first-come first-served, random, or based on our actual address? Of course, we would be crushed if our child had to be waitlisted as a zoned child so I am wondering what we can do to increase our chances.
The Department of Education has established priority guidelines for all children applying to kindergarten. These are outlined on the DOE’s website and in the new Elementary School Directory. First priority goes to zoned students whose siblings will be enrolled in grades K-5 in September 2012. Second priority goes to zoned students who don't have siblings enrolled in the school – your situation.
I have a son in a private school and I would like him to apply to public middle schools. I have been told that he will need to take the public school New York state exam in the spring of 4th grade year in order to apply to public middle schools. Is this the correct procedure? Is it possible for him to take this exam? Can he take gifted and talented testing?
Private school mom
Dear Private School Mom,
No need for your son to take the New York State standardized tests. It is true that middle schools (particularly the selective ones) use 4th grade state test scores as a criteria for acceptance. But schools are savvy – they are aware that most private schools don't administer those tests. Instead, they will use your child's grades and attendance record as benchmarks for placement. There are other criteria that schools use for both public school and private school kids. Many ask kids to submit portfolios of school work. Some give their own exams or auditions, and many hold interviews -- a good chance for your child to show his best strengths. In these cases, standardized tests are just part of the mix.