Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting into Preschool - Honolulu Advertiser

Tyler's mommy is quoted in Sunday's Honolulu Advertiser story on getting into preschools.

Here's an excerpt:

What parents say

'Iolani's Monaco knows the private-school application process can be stressful for parents. She recalls the new mother who called when her baby was 6 months old and wanted to know about kindergarten admissions.

Author Pirl remembers a woman coming up to her at a book signing and asking which preschool she should send her child to. Pirl pressed for more details about the child: Boy? Girl? Sports? Hobbies?

The woman, thoroughly surprised, told Pirl that she wasn't a mother, nor even married, but thought she ought to get an early start in sorting out her options.

Noreen Kam of Mo'ili'ili, an account supervisor at public relations firm McNeil Wilson, has a friend who's already working to get a 6-week-old baby onto the waiting lists of preschools. But Kam waited to get started until her son, Tyler, was the ripe old age of 2.

"It's way crazy here," she said. "Especially because when we started looking, we'd hear, 'Oh there's a wait list of a year or so.' Friends pass it on to other friends, and it gets the pregnant moms worried. ... It's one more thing you have to think of."

Kam's heard the hype that if they don't get into this preschool or that, "they'll never get into Punahou or whatever, and Harvard down the line."

She applied Tyler, now 4, to seven preschools, but specifically chose ones that didn't require tests: "I didn't want Tyler to have that pressure — or us as parents."

As a wee li'l tot, Tyler was cared for by his grandfather; Kam wanted him to be comfortable in a social environment.

"It wasn't about preparing him for a curriculum of higher education," she said. "It was about getting him to play with other kids."

Now, he's at Kawaiaha'o's summer preschool before he starts kindergarten at the highly rated Hokulani Elementary, a public school, in the fall. (Because of where his birthday falls, he's of age to start public school kindergarten, but not within the deadlines for private school kindergarten.)

Next year, Kam's hoping he'll get admitted into 'Iolani or Hawaii Baptist Academy — where he would again attend kindergarten — but she's fine if he stays at Hokulani.

"Much as we love Kawaiaha'o, it's nice to save some money," she said.


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