Lynn H. Magid is a professional teacher and consultant with more than 20
years of teaching experience, and the author of five editions of A Guide
to DFW Private Schools.
Lynn has prepared a basic guide to the DFW private schools admissions
process for readers of MetroplexBaby.com.
To DFW Private Schools
Public versus private •
When to start looking •
Preschool versus Kindergarten •
Choosing the right school
The admissions process •
Preparing your child for a successful education •
All parents want
the best possible education for their children,
but sometimes they assume
that the best school on paper is the best
school for their child. However, just
like a career, a school that is appropriate for one
may not be right for another. Here are some
Public Versus Private
The basic goal is to match a school with your child's interests and
abilities. Visit both the public and private schools in your area. Trust
your instincts. As a parent, you know your child best.
When To Start Looking
There are a few schools that will accept names on a
waitlist as soon as your child is born. However, most schools do not want to
track that information 3-4 years before enrollment. For almost all DFW
schools, it is a common misconception that children must be “on the list
Generally, most open house dates run between September and December for the
upcoming August school year. So I would recommend starting one year before
you plan to enroll your child, typically when your child is almost three.
Most children start pre-school as three-year-olds about to turn four.
Public schools allow first grade admission to children
who have had their 6th birthday by September 1. In private schools, the
trend seems to reflect that boys are a few months older than their public
school counterpart. For example, first graders are usually between six years
and a few months and seven years and a few months for the most successful
Primer is an option that is offered in selective private
schools for children not yet ready for first grade. A child's emotional and
physical maturity is an important consideration. To enter first grade, a
child should already have a solid foundation of basic number and math
concepts, beginning reading and written communication skills.
Preschool Versus Kindergarten
If you're considering preschool for your
child, choose a school that will introduce your child to the excitement of
learning. This is your child's first exposure to develop - socially,
emotionally and academically - and his/her first chance to be involved in
the classroom. When choosing a preschool, the DFW area has a large range of
options. Look for a school that offers a wonderful introduction to learning,
making friends, interactive-discovery and engaging playtime. These skills
set the tone for healthy development and a positive school experience.
At the Kindergarten level of schooling, children learn through play and
discovery. The many centers and activities a child experiences provide a
good framework to develop a love of learning that can last a lifetime. They
learn the fundamentals of reading, writing and math. They also learn to
express themselves and their feelings through language, art, music, movement
and blocks. They also develop social skills, such as learning to care for
themselves and their supplies and materials, and how to cooperate and get
along with others.
extremely important for creditability. It is a voluntary process that
schools may choose to pursue. Each accrediting organization has specific
requirements, standards and guidelines to which each school must adhere.
Upon completion, the participating schools receive credentials that maintain
the standards for their institution.
on the issue differ, I feel that accreditation is the most important
criterion for a school to have. It is vital to know that a school is
teaching “developmentally appropriate” material at each age and grade level.
The standards and guidelines that govern private facilities are outlined by
the specific agencies the school adheres too. Information relating to
private school accreditation is specified by the Texas Private School
Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC).
Montessori Method is a means of scientific assistance to the total
development of the child: social, intellectual, psychic, and physical. The
environment is carefully prepared so that the child’s sense of order is
fulfilled and clutter does not distract the learning process. Activities are
scientifically designed in a “prepared environment” with didactic materials
each child can use individually or with a group. Concentration develops
through work with the hands, leading to self-discipline and independence
through self-direction. There is also freedom of choice within well-defined
Traditional Classical education covers grammar, logic, and
rhetoric. Logic and rhetoric are often taught by the teacher who raises
questions and the class discusses them. By controlling the pace, the teacher
can keep the class very lively, yet disciplined.
BEKA curriculum is a
traditional academic curriculum that is presented in a very structured
manner with the content focusing upon the Bible with a Christian
The term "progressive education" has been used to describe
ideas and practices that aim to make schools more effective agencies of a
democratic society. The education of engaged citizens, according to this
perspective, involves two essential elements: (1) Respect for diversity,
meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own
abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2) the
development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables
individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of
their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good. These
elements of progressive education have been termed "child-centered" and
►Coed versus single gender
This is a personal
choice, but many children find their concentration skills are better in a
single gender school environment. Other children will maintain that co-ed
schools enhance teamwork, communication skills and peer relationships.
Personally, I feel that both have advantages. Seek out the school that best
meets your child's learning needs.
Some schools offer classes through high school. You can choose an ongoing
school to avoid your child having to change; however, most children do not
go to one school for their entire K-12 career. Parents shouldn’t get caught
up in planning their child’s entire lifetime. There is a high likelihood
that a child will desire to switch schools before finishing high school, and
these preferences should be discussed and considered at the appropriate
time. The reality is that it’s hard to know now if 4-5 years down the road
if that is still the right school for your child. Do what is best for your
child for the upcoming 2-3 years first.
The Admissions Process
The admissions process can be overwhelming, but here are a few pointers to
make your child’s admission to any school a good experience.
- My first
recommendation is to take advantage of
at a prospective school's open house; I find that
they are an excellent way to get a sense of the school's overall
environment. After visiting several schools,
you should begin to
independently research your favorites,
looking for obvious aspects that might provide
the most comfortable
fit for your child, and then request the
admittance policies and procedures from each. Experience
has confirmed my belief in two educational principles
time and time again: first and foremost, you should always trust
your instincts, and secondly, you need to
be objective and honest about your child's ability
versus the school's expectations.
All schools require an application form, which should be
completed and returned to the appropriate Admission Office. Generally,
applications are available the first week of September. If you have
multiple applications or more than one child applying, it is often
helpful to use a calendar specific to the admissions process. There are
multiple deadlines within each application and having a calendar on
which these dates are clearly marked will lower the stress level and
assist in making sure all forms are returned in a timely manner.
Some schools have open, year round or rolling enrollment, and
accept students at any time if there are openings.
Other forms that may be required:
Emergency medical form
Proof of medical insurance
Standardized test scores (if available)
Many schools require both a student and parent interview. A
member of the Admission Office of the respective school will call to
schedule the required interviews and/or group observations. Generally,
younger applicants are observed in group situations and older children have
a formal interview. Remember, appearance is a factor in a school’s
admission decisions as well as a child’s academic record, recommendations
and extracurricular activities.
Most schools require an entrance test. Specific tests
administered vary from school to school. The following is a broad list that
may or may not reflect all tests offered by all schools.
Entrance exam prepared by individual school
Stanford Achievement Test
ITBS achievement testing
Gesell Developmental Readiness
Diagnostic evaluations where appropriate for alternative schools
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Test taking can be a
stressful experience for the student and parent. Be sure to explain the
procedure with your child to ease any concerns he or she may have. Becoming
familiar with the test format is very helpful for students; knowing what to
expect will relieve some of the anxiety of test taking. Remember, your
child can only do his/her best. That is all anyone should expect.
Specific tests administered vary from school to school.
Contact your school’s Admission Office for this information.
Some standardized tests are accepted by several schools.
Therefore, your child will only be required to take the test once and the
results will be forwarded to each school being applied to. Be sure to
verify what test is required of each school.
Other Important Notes
There is usually an application fee and often a separate
testing fee. The application fee varies from school to school.
Out of state applicants are accepted by most schools.
The admission process is VERY competitive. It is
critical for your child’s self esteem for her/him to understand that not
being accepted to a school is not a reflection on the child’s worth.
Many more children are not accepted than are asked to join a school
We recommend that your child apply to more than one school to
increase the odds of acceptance.
feel that the right school is one in which your child both enjoys the
has good peer relationships, and has a
guiding mission that you can support as a
family. If your child is happy at his or her
school and you are satisfied with its academic
quality, I would of course recommend re-enrolling. However, it is
sometimes necessary to explore
other options and re-assess what feels
appropriate, both for you and your child.
Sometimes research alone is not sufficient. As an education strategist, I
have had the opportunity to meet with countless families to discuss complex
issues concerning their educational choices. Some of
the more common issues are:
-A child is asked to relocate to a more appropriate school after
it is determined the school cannot meet the needs of
-A family is new to the DFW area.
-A family needs
an expert opinion
in choosing between the schools their child
has been accepted to.
-A family needs additional advice about
school evaluation criteria.
-A family is
overwhelmed by the
school search, the admissions process, or both,
and need coaching and/or a comprehensive
strategy to ensure educational success.
Child For A Successful Education
characteristics of successful students
According to Sharon L. Ramey, Ph.D. and Craig T. Ramey, Ph.D., in Going to
School: How to Help Your Child Succeed, ten common characteristics are as
1. They are eager to learn;
2. They ask lots of questions, and they ask for help;
3. They work hard and know that their effort matters;
4. They have well-developed social and emotional skills;
5. They are good at assessing their skills;
6. Their parents are role models for learning;
7. Their parents promote learning by “natural” teaching at home;
8. Their family routines support doing well in school;
9. Their parents are effective at setting and maintaining limits;
10. Their schools have high expectations for student achievement, support
teacher development, and communicate frequently with parents .
your child be prepared for
your child that you’re looking for a school, drive by and show the child the
school so he/she begins to feel comfortable with the environment. Explain
the basic process of starting school, prepare them for a few questions the
school may ask them, and take a tour with the child if possible so the
comfort level rises.
your child be prepared for Kindergarten or 1st Grade
There are many
activities parents can do at home to help their children. Just remember to
keep it fun, as this is how children learn best. A few things to do include:
sorting and classifying (buttons, socks from the laundry, pictures, etc.),
pretend play (grocery store, post office, etc.), using rhymes and making up
stories to help with language skills, writing (writing letters can be fun!),
copy and make up your own patterns, dot-to-dot pictures, mazes, dominoes,
puzzles, and lots of games (any board games or games like “I Spy” to
encourage cooperation and observational skills). Of course, reading books
should be a very important part of every day!
appropriate skills for a five-year old
A five-year old has become quite adept with language, often having a
vocabulary of over 3,000 words. However, it is still possible and quite
normal to have some speech difficulties, especially with “r”, “v”, “l”,
“th”, “j”, and “z”. Socially, a five-year old likes to choose his/her own
special friends, and will be able to play games, negotiate rules, and try to
resolve conflicts. They are often very competitive. Physically, children can
throw balls well and are learning to catch, using hands alone. They have
learned or are learning to button, unbutton, use zippers, and tie their
shoelaces. Most five-year olds are learning to hold a pencil or crayon
correctly and will enjoy drawing and writing. Intellectually, children at
this age are starting to use some logical thinking in games such as
Tic-Tac-Toe or Concentration. They are starting to understand spatial
relationships, calendars, and time.
►The importance of play
Play is important
to all areas of development. Socially, children learn to take turns,
cooperate and share. They make up rules, follow rules, and learn to work
through conflicts. Children may learn about leadership. Play is also
important to language development. Children learn new vocabulary from
others, as well as communication skills. Story comprehension can be improved
through relating events and sequences of events to others. Intellectually,
children learn new ideas and skills, as well as improving their problem
solving abilities. Physically, children improve their stamina, flexibility,
strength, coordination and fitness.
with summer birthdays
Most private schools enroll at 7 and public schools at 6. Schools are
looking at maturity for their 1st grade enrollment, often boys are held back
a year in either preschool or Kindergarten.
The private school industry
has many acronyms that parents must understand. These acronyms describe how
private schools are organized. Know this lingo; it will help you in the long
run. The various accrediting organizations have specific guidelines to which
each school must adhere.
(ACSI) Association of
Christian Schools International
Commission of the Texas Association of Baptist Schools
(ICAA) The International
Christian Accrediting Association
(ISAS) Independent Schools
Association of the Southwest
(LSAC) Texas District of
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Association for the Education of Young Children
(NCSA) National Christian
Schools Association of America
(SACS) Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools
Association of Episcopal Schools
(TAAPS) Texas Alliance of
Accredited Private Schools
(TCCED) Texas Catholic
Conference Education Department
(TSDA) Texas Conference of
(TDPRS) Texas Department of
Protective and Regulatory Services
The Web Guide to DFW Private