Photo by Nicole Harkin.
Nicole Harkin
Dec 27, 2017 · 2 min read

It’s DC School Lottery time! If your little one is going to be eligible for the lottery, you might be feeling a lot of uncertainty and frenetic energy among your friends. (Is your child going to be three by September 30, 2018? Then join the party.)

Here are my tips for thriving through this time.

1. Keep in mind you are unlikely to get into any school. That’s just reality. Don’t get your hopes set on any school. A secondary corollary to this reality is that going around to see every DC school is a waste of your time. A. Your child will do fine at whatever preschool they go to and B. You can tour any school you get into after you are accepted.

2. Make a list of twelve schools you think you might be interested in.

  • Pro-tip: proximity matters WAY more than you think. Driving across town in not sustainable. (Some charter schools do have buses.)
  • Do you have a preferred educational pedagogy? DC schools have three types of pedagogies: The regular US school type, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. Briefly read about these and move on.
  • Do you value language immersion? DC schools with immersion programs come in four language flavors: Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Mandarin.

3. Sign-up for MYSchoolsDC. The website is pretty user friendly, however, if you do have a problem, you can call or email them. They are actually helpful. You have until March 1, 2018 to update and change your preferences.

Make sure that you actually put the schools in the order of your preference. There is no gaming the system. If you do get into any of your schools, you will be wait listed for the schools ranked above the school you get into. The rest will be dropped off your list.

A few years ago when I was in the throws of this process I went to a panel discussion put on by parents who had already gone through the process. Their message was clear: you will get into a school, maybe lots of schools over time. If you aren’t happy with a school, you can change. And finally, this isn’t as important as it seems to you now. Keep calm and press on.

(Edited to add Hebrew to languages available at DC Schools.)

Nicole Harkin

Written by

Nicole Harkin lives in Washington, DC. She recently published her first book, Tilting, A Memoir. You can read more of her work at www.nicoleharkingwriting.com

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