When I tell people I'm about to embark on a search for a Kindergarten for my daughter for Fall 2012, the first question is usually: Why don't you just send her to the same school her brothers go?
In New York City schools, siblings, as a rule, get priority for admission.
In some private schools, like, for instance, The Studio School, it's automatic. In a majority, siblings are heavily favored in the process. A small number, like The Speyer Legacy School write, "Each applicant is evaluated according to the same criteria and all applicants are admitted based upon their likelihood of thriving in our unique program. Acceptances are offered only to qualified candidates."
If you have more than one child and are determined to send them to the same school (it does make life a great deal easier), make sure you find out what the school's sibling policy is prior to accepting a spot for your older child.
Private school siblings also receive Early Notification of acceptance.
This year's potential Kindergartners were informed of acceptances and rejections on Friday, February 11, 2011, while siblings had the option of finding out between December 8 and January 14.
It's a convenient thing to have as you can then withdraw your applications from any other schools (and potentially open up a spot for another child), or inform those same schools that you will not be going to your Early Notification school and are still interested in being considered. (Often, when a school knows that a child is a sibling or legacy at a competing school, they tend to not take the application particularly seriously.)
Public schools have a sibling policy, as well. If your older child attends a public school outside his/her zone, your younger child has priority admission over a new out of zone family, but behind any in-zone siblings.
For Gifted & Talented programs, a younger child who makes the cut off (at least 90th percentile for District G&Ts, at least 97th percentile for Citywide) is given priority at an older sibling's school. In that way, a child who scores in the 90th percentile would rank ahead of one who even scored in the 99th, if they are a sibling.
I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: Make sure you give birth to your best-testing child first.
(Arguably, you could try to move an older child's to a younger child's school if you prefer, but there are traditionally so few Gifted & Talented seats available in the upper grades as to make the odds of success nearly meaningless.)
As for why I won't be sending my daughter to the school her two older brother attend, the answer is: They go to an all-boy school. (I know, bad planning on my part.)
Coming up next: Why I chose single-sex for my sons... and why I'm not so sold on it for my daughter. (But, why it might be exactly the right choice for you!)
Want to follow along as the NY Gifted Education Examiner puts her money where her mouth (and alleged expertise) is and opens up about the process of Kindergarten admissions in NYC? Subscribe to this column for notifications every time it's updated. Your e-mail will not be shared with anyone.