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.