Reader Question: Feeder Preschools To Private Elementary Schools

We got a question from a mom who asked whether she should consider where preschools send their graduates (to public or private elementary schools) since she wants her child to attend private school. I’ve had the experience of both types of preschools. My daughter attended a preschool where lots of kids attend private elementary schools each year. My son attended a preschool where almost all the children attend public elementary school.

If it is your first child and you want him/her to attend private school, you should definitely consider the “feeder” preschools. Those are the preschools that feed into top private elementary schools. You shouldn’t try to send your child to a “feeder” preschool ONLY because it has a connection to a good private elementary school. But, I know firsthand how helpful it is to have a preschool director who is on a first name basis with admissions directors at the top schools, who knows what a parent interview is all about, who can tell you which schools might be good for your child and who can help you navigate the entire process. If the preschool director is not “in the loop” about private schools, it will be more difficult for him/her to guide you through the process. Elena Cielak at Montessori Shir-Hashirim was incredibly helpful to me and other parents as we went through the admissions process. When we stopped by her office to tell her about our visiting day, she knew exactly what we were talking about. She discussed our application with admissions directors. She helped me decide which school would be best for my daughter (and she was right because she knew my daughter and she knew The Willows School.). That knowledge comes with experience of helping families get into private elementary schools year after year. Private elementary schools accept children from a wide variety of preschools. Still, there’s a reason certain preschools are called “feeder” preschools. These are the preschools whose graduates go on to a few specific private elementary schools.
Preschool directors who have years of experience helping place their graduates at top LA private elementary schools juggle many potentially conflicting issues, including families from their own preschool who are competing for admission to the same schools. They are dealing with families that get wait-listed at their top choice and families who are declined admission at all the schools they applied to. They have to advise families who ignore their advice and only apply to one school, which then wait-lists their child. That’s a lot to handle! But, if your preschool director knows your child and knows the private elementary schools you like, that’s a huge advantage. Do preschool directors get upset at families who refuse to follow their advice during the application process? Yes, it can happen. Do preschool directors sometimes get upset if a family selects a school that they don’t think is best for the child. Sometimes. Still, most preschool directors will do their best to place each family at their top choice school.
The book, Coping With Preschool Panic, lists the elementary schools, public and private, where each preschool sends its graduates. This can be really helpful if you are just starting to look at preschools.
We also discuss the topic of feeder preschools in our book. 
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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at

6 thoughts to “Reader Question: Feeder Preschools To Private Elementary Schools”

  1. Christina, what if your preschool Director seems to prefer to take a less active role, and has stated that advocating certain families over others puts her in an awkward position? Is this common? Do families ask teachers to write letters of recommendation? I have backed off asking her for an outright recommendation or letter because i sensed she did not want to do this for some families over others. But as a non "insider" I feel this could be one of the few things that makes us stand out. Thanks for your advice!

  2. Hi Anon, thanks for the question! Some preschool directors take a very hands-off role in the admissions process. Others are very involved in every aspect with each family who is applying. I think that your preschool director doesn't want to say publicly that she would ever advocate one family over another. But, privately she may do exactly that when she's on the phone with admissions directors. There is really no way to know how she handles that issue. I think its completely appropriate for you to ask for her support during the admissions process. I don't know that letters of recommendation are what is needed, but instead, a strong teacher/preschool director EVALUATION FORM that she fills out and sends to the private schools is what you really need. You need her to advocate for your child/family on that form! You won't be able to see the form, but she can signal you as to whether or not you should worry about it. See our previous blog post about how a preschool director can help. (dated 6/1/2010)

  3. Thank you, Christina! This helps and eases my mind a bit. Our Director did say that she thought out evaluation form would "stand out" in a good way, so am breathing a small sign on relief as i type this…
    thank you again for your response and your wonderful blog.

  4. Hi again, you're welcome. Thanks for reading the blog! Sounds like your director is telling you she'll be pushing for your child! That's exactly what you want to hear from her. Good luck.

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