For families with children, New Haven and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer. In addition to quality public and private schools, and plenty of quality daycare, parents will find a wealth of resources for children of all ages, including indoor and outdoor play areas, children’s gyms, children’s extra-curricular education and summer programs, music and art programs, language schools, museum programs, library programs and much more. Possibilities for family recreation include parks for picnicking and outdoor activity, hiking trails, beaches, zoos, nature preserves, winter sports such as sledding and ice skating, aquariums, and concerts and theater geared towards the whole family. No matter your budget or your interests, there is something to keep your family active and engaged and enjoying New Haven!
Early Childhood Education
There are many quality early education options in the New Haven area for your baby or pre-school aged child. Yale’s Worklife department, where you can find an online childcare directory of area daycare and preschools, offers helpful advice for making an informed choice.
One of the best ways to find a reliable babysitter is to get a referral from another parent, so you may want to ask around to see if anyone has children in your spouse’s class or department. Never leave your child with someone whom you do not know well or whose references you have not thoroughly investigated. You can expect to pay $8.00 to $15.00 an hour depending upon the age and experience of the sitter. Some people arrange babysitting exchanges in their community or playgroups, and Yale offers a babysitter-finding service and, to eligible member of the Yale community, a last-minute back-up care service through Caregivers On-call.
U.S. School System
Generally, the three levels of education (Kindergarten through 12th grade) that children move through are:
1. Elementary school (grades K to 5, ages 5-10)
2. Middle school or junior high school (grades 6 to 8, ages 11-13)
3. High school (grades 9 to 12, ages 14-18)
The school year begins in late August or early September and ends in mid to late June. School holidays and vacation periods are determined by the school system in the town or city where you live, and school calendars are usually posted online.
Public schools provide a free tax-funded education. Children usually are assigned to the school that serves the neighborhood where they live. Some parents choose to live in a certain neighborhood because of the reputation of its public school. Before you sign a lease (housing agreement), it is advisable to contact the Board of Education office to inquire about whether or not there is a space for your child in that particular district’s school. If there is no space, you may not have a choice about alternative placements, and your child could be bussed to an unfamiliar school far from your home.
In some public school systems, including New Haven, there are also magnet schools or schools of choice where students are drawn from different districts to schools with a specific philosophical, academic or cultural emphasis. The New Haven Magnet School program is run on a lottery system; applications are due in early February of each year.
There are a number of private schools in the New Haven area that support different educational philosophies and methods. Some of the schools have a religious affiliation; these schools are sometimes referred to as parochial schools. Unlike public schools, private schools charge tuition and fees, and while some scholarships or financial assistance may be available, it is generally quite expensive for families on a limited budget.
Summer, Vacation & Extra-curricular Programs
The choices for after-school enrichment are rich and varied no matter your budget or your child’s interests. The most affordable programs are generally those offered by the city or your local public school, and if you do not receive information from your child’s teacher, it may be listed on the website of your local board of education. For the more popular children’s programs, it is important to sign up as soon as registration opens up, since they often fill up quickly. However, should you not register in time for your preferred spot, there is often an equally suitable alternative. Remember, it is important to sign up early, so be on the watch for when registration dates start for the programs that interest you most. If you can place your name on a waiting list, you should do so since programs that have the resources and space to do so, will occasionally hire additional staff to accommodate the additional numbers. Summer and vacation camps almost always offer before and after program care for an additional fee.
For Families with Kids