Monday, September 10

TONIGHT (9/10): TV documentary about kindergarten admissions

The stressful kindergarten admissions process is the topic of "Getting In ... Kindergarten," a one-hour documentary airing tonight on the Learning Channel. The documentary, produced by Pamela French, follows three families through the process, revealing their anxieties while also taking a look at the negotiation process preschool directors engage in to place their students in top elementary schools. The families range in wealth and composition; one family takes long weekends in Paris; another is black and middle-class; a third mother is single and living in Harlem, where her zoned school can't be considered a fallback option.

Most of the focus is on private schools, but two of the three families also have two selective public schools, Hunter College Elementary School and the Anderson School, on their lists; one father is a Hunter grad himself. I was pleased to see that the kid with the most visible personality — a charming, caring child — ended up in public school, but I won't spoil for you which kid it is and where he started school last week.

The show itself is delicately produced and doesn't make the parents out to be crazed monsters, unlike other books and movies depicting the unique challenges of New York City parents. Instead, we see parents who simply want the best for their kids and who are able to laugh when their kid draws a gun at a play session for a prestigious private school, even though that means he's less likely to get in. It's worth a watch. And if your kids are past kindergarten age, you can watch with a sense of been-there-done-that relief — or schadenfreude!

"Getting In" airs at 7 p.m. today on the The Learning Channel. In New York City, that's channel 52.

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