Elementary Schools

Children are not required to attend school until they are 6 years old; however, any child whose 5th birthday is before September 1st is entitled to attend a public kindergarten program. We recommend that you start your search for private and public elementary schools a full year before your child will start kindergarten. There are over 500 public and private elementary schools in the Greater Boston Area, all of which have their own personalities. You will need a great deal of time to tour different schools to identify those to which you want to apply and complete the application process which may involve writing an essay, student and parent interviews as well as an entrance exam.

This guide will help parents:

  • Understand the public and private elementary school admissions process
  • Identify your child's educational profile as well as your family's academic goals and practical concerns
  • Learn about the differences among the Greater Boston Area's 500 public and private elementary schools
  • Obtain handouts to help prepare for the school tours, entrance exams and child and parent interviews

The Admissions Process

Navigating the admissions process to both the public and private school systems can be daunting. Depending on the child’s age, parents have to submit applications with supporting materials which may include transcripts, personal statements, and recommendations from teachers and friends. Children have to take standardized tests to enroll in most private schools. Parents will visit several schools during which time they may be interviewed by administrators and/or teachers. Finally, children are often interviewed to allow the schools to determine whether they are a good fit. Although the application process typically begins after Labor Day one year before the child will enroll in school, parents have to decide to which schools to apply much earlier to allow for sufficient time to complete the applications and gather the appropriate materials.

Elementary School Entrance Exams

Most private and selective public elementary schools require their applicants to take an entrance exam. The private schools require students to take a standardized test commonly called the “ERBs”. Please look at the handout section near the bottom of this page to learn more about the elementary school entrance exams.

 Admissions Process

To obtain more detailed information about applying to private schools, please click on the Private Elementary School Admissions Process link.

To learn more about the registration rules and requirements of the Boston public school system , please click on the Boston Public School Education Process link.

To learn more about the registration rules and requirements of the Cambridge public school system, please click on the Cambridge Public School Education Process link.

Please see the handout section near the bottom of the parent guide for tips regarding the school tours, student and parent interviews, reference letters, entrance exams, admissions officers' pet peeves, admissions decisions as well as financial aid.

Your Child's and Family's Educational Profile

To identify which schools meet your child’s and family’s needs, you will first have to consider your child’s educational profile as well as your family’s educational goals and practical concerns.

Your Child's Educational Profile

Your child's educational profile consists of her or his:

    Please click here to learn more about these aspects of your child's educational profile for elementary schools.

    Your Family's Educational Goals And Practical Considerations

    Regardless of your child’s skill development and interests, parents may also have academic goals and/or practical considerations that are important. Some educational issues that you may want to consider are:

      Moreover, there may be some practical considerations that are important, including:

      • School schedule
      • Transportation
      • Location
      • Cost

        Please click here to learn more about your family's educational goals and practical concerns for elementary schools.

        Selecting Schools

        Once you have a clear understanding of your goals as well as your child’s academic and social profile, you are ready to identify the schools that would be a good fit. The following are some characteristics you will want to consider:

        • Public versus private school
        • If public, which type of school?
        • For private schools:  prestigious or lesser known schools
        • Educational philosophy of school
        • Grades served
        • Dual language programs
        • Distance from home
        • Large versus small schools
        • Coeducational versus single sex schools
        • School schedule
        • Feeder schools

          Please click on the following link to learn more detailed information about elementary school characteristics.

          Resources and Our Services

          School Finder and Comparison Tool

          To help parents navigate the elementary school admissions process, the website has a school finder and a comparison tool allowing parents to identify a set of schools that meet their needs and to compare these schools on a number of characteristics such as educational philosophy, cost, test scores, and attendance rates. Please click on the School Finder tab for more information about this service.

          Handouts

          Moreover, the website has handouts that help parents prepare for the school tours, child and parent interviews and entrance exams. Please click on the following links to download the handouts:

            We also provide more personal services to help parents navigate the elementary school admissions process, including eduprofile, workshops and confidential private consulting. To learn how to purchase these services, please click on the Our Services Tab.

            Eduprofile

            We have created a survey that will help us determine your child’s educational profile as well as your family’s educational goals and practical concerns. More specifically, the questionnaire asks you about your child’s basic learning capacity, skill development, community as well as any practical considerations that are important, including the school’s type, location, educational approach, schedule, transportation, and cost. Once we have reviewed the survey, we will send you information about your child’s educational profile as well as a list of schools that we think will meet your child’s and family’s needs. 

            Workshops

            We offer two 2-hour elementary school workshops:

            • Navigating the elementary school admissions process
            • Preparing children for the entrance exams

            The elementary school admissions process workshop provides parents with tips regarding 1) how to identify the elementary schools that meet your child's needs, 2) the logistics of the admissions process, 3) touring schools, 4) parent interviews, 5) preparing your children for interviews, 6) writing a compelling essay, and 7) juggling acceptances and wait-list offers. 

            The second workshop, preparing students for the elementary school entrance exams, explains the rationale behind the admissions tests required by many elementary schools. Parents will also learn how to prepare their children to be as comfortable as possible on the date of the test.

            Individual Consulting Services

            We provide individual consulting services to parents who would like help navigating the public and private elementary school admissions process. More specifically, we can help parents with any one or all of the following steps:

            Step 1) Develop your child's and family's educational profile

            Step 2) Identify the elementary schools that meet your child’s and family’s needs

            Step 3) Understand the logistics of the admissions process

            Step 4) Prepare for the school tours as well as the parent and student interviews

            Step 5) Complete the applications and write a compelling essay

            Step 6) Select the best school for your child and family


             

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