NYC 3K school offer and next steps

Last month, the offers and wait lists were released for 3K and 4K (preschool) in New York City. Given that 3K is a total lottery and children are not guaranteed a spot anywhere, I wasn’t sure if we’d get anything. But my hunch, based on enrollment at the 3K Chinese immersion school we toured, was that Kaia would likely get a spot at one of this school’s two locations in Chinatown. And in the end, she did: she got an offer at the location closer to the subway stop. This is the location we never toured, so we came here today to see what the space looked like and to meet with the director. Of course, given it’s Chinatown, it’s in an old building. You either go up a small elevator or take some narrow, slightly windy stairs up to the second level to where the school is located. The space looked fine — it wasn’t anything to impress given the old building. But there seemed like there was ample space, plus a large separate room for activities like “gym,” yoga, and play when the weather was not great out. I do like that they prepare all meals onsite and that we would no longer have to pack lunch or snacks anymore unless we wanted to. The meals are a mix of Western and Asian food, so Kaia would occasionally get her Asian greens fix made by someone who wasn’t me. They follow the Department of Education curriculum, and there’s always two teachers in the class at least, one who teaches in English and a second who delivers the same messaging in Mandarin Chinese. In the afterschool program that runs after 2:50pm until 6pm, they also do tracing of Chinese characters and writing — this would have an out of pocket cost.

When we got the offer, I knew we were lucky to have any offer. That’s the attitude of most parents whose children get a 3K spot. That’s why so many parents have commuted from Brooklyn into Manhattan and back for their kids who got into this school. I corresponded with a couple of them over Facebook message, and I get what they mean. Is a double commute going to be harder than taking a 4-block walk to our current daycare/school? Yes — a lot, lot harder. It’s going to take a LOT more time for all of us. Sometimes, I’m sure the subway will be cramped and annoying. It will really, really suck on rainy and snowy days, just as the other parents commuting from Brooklyn told me. We’ll also have to get a monthly Metro card again, which I haven’t done in about eight years. But I think we can do it for at least one school year and see how it goes.

I also thought about the pros: Kaia will have exposure to Mandarin (and better Mandarin…) from people outside of just me — The more exposure, the better, so that the language can stick to her more. She will have the opportunity to speak in Chinese with classmates and other teachers. She’ll see what it’s like to do a subway commute daily. And I’ll always have access to all my beloved Asian greens, baos, and ingredients every single day and won’t even get a chance to “miss” them. Who knows – maybe some Fridays, we’ll even all do dinner down in Chinatown or somewhere else on the Lower East Side. It’ll be a new routine for all three of us.

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