Preschool Chatter Doesn’t Matter When It Comes to School Admissions

We’ve all been part of those stressful conversations where a few parents standing around after preschool drop-off start talking about kindergarten admissions. After even a minute or two, we feel our blood pressure rising and our heart pounding. One mom says she’s heard that School X is the only “academic” school in the city. Another mom agrees, saying your kid doesn’t have a chance at a top middle school without an “academic” elementary school.

It can be easy to get sucked into these types of conversations, but the truth is that we need to ignore the endless, burdensome chatter that happens in every preschool parking lot.

The front porch of my daughter’s preschool was the gathering place to talk after dropping off our kids. Playdates, learning to read and birthday parties were the usual topics we’d use as icebreakers. Then, the conversation would almost always turn to private school admissions. Public or private?  Traditional or progressive? Religious or secular? And so the conversation would go. We’d usually have more questions than answers and the line outside the preschool director’s door was long.

I got an email from a Beyond The Brochure blog reader recently. She said after hearing the discussions about private school admissions at her preschool drop-off, she was feeling very overwhelmed. This doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me realize it happens at a lot of preschools. Rather than listen helplessly, there are things parents can do to prevent the head-spinning stress that arises from these casual conversations:

1. When the parking lot chatter turns to school talk, don’t get caught up in listening to the frantic talk about the admissions process. Ultimately, it is only an opinion that has no impact on school admissions.

2. Carefully choose a few parents you know and trust to talk to about your admissions frustrations. Be careful about the information you share, both about your own plans and theirs too. Discretion in person and on social media is important during the admissions process. Preschool chatter spreads faster than a case of the stomach flu (and it can be just as unpleasant).

3. Visit schools to see firsthand what you like or don’t like. This is a much better way to form your own opinions. It goes without saying to steer clear of the rumor mill. Just because another preschool mom is raving about a school, doesn’t mean you’ll like it or that it will be right for your kid.