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Pre-Prep School

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Pre-prep: A grounding for life

Catherine Kelsey looks at pre-prep education for American families in the UK

Published on September 5, 2019


Providing your child with the best possible start can pay dividends and has benefits throughout their whole educational journey. It gives them the essential foundations on which to build for a complete learning experience.

Pre-prep is for pupils aged 3 to 4 to age 7 or 8. They are private day schools located in cities and rural areas serving the local community. It is the US equivalent to Kindergarten and Year One.

In the main pre-preps are selective and require applicants to attend a taster day or undertake detailed assessments prior to being offered a place. Sometimes pre-preps are stand-alone schools, but for the most part they offer a seamless gateway to the next stage of primary education.

The most important point to consider when looking at prep schools is the needs of the child.

Does the school fit with your child’s abilities and does the ethos of the school match the needs of the family? Do they offer a range of sports, music and other activities that can broaden your child’s horizons and help them develop as individuals as well as learning to become part of a team? Will the school be too academic or is it the right fit? Is there good pastoral care to help with any issues that might arise? Is it local so that they can make friends with whom they can interact outside of the classroom?

Whilst it is too early to have a clear idea of future academic abilities, there are considerations to be made when selecting the right pre-prep. How does your child interact with others, do they have a grasp of numbers, can they hold and use scissors and do they have pencil control – these often form part of the selection process. The top London pre-preps are in high demand and as such are very competitive. Entry requirements will vary depending on the school.

In addition to meeting the needs of the child, the choice of prep School also needs to be seen against the backdrop of the overall educational landscape that you have in mind for your child. Do you want your child to go to a boarding school post pre-prep or do you want them to stay as a day pupil? Are you going to be in the UK permanently or will your child return to the US or attend one of the American Schools based here in the UK for their secondary education?

It is never too early to start planning. At Gabbitas we help many parents start the process immediately when their child is born, and sometimes sooner!

One of the advantages of pre-preps is the small class sizes, so that each child benefits from a fantastic level of attention which is hugely important at this formative part of their lives when they are developing rapidly and will benefit from the time and encouragement to help maximise their true potential. Young children are like proverbial sponges, soaking up information and absorbing so much from a rich learning environment.

As Aristotle said, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man” and just as important - the woman!

Catherine Kelsey is Director of Elite Clients at Gabbitas, which has been involved with independent education for over 145 years. They offer a range of support to families including tuition and have some of the most experienced tutors in London working with us. For more information about how they can help get in touch at www.gabbitas.com.

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