Families & Children

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There are many ways for families to get connected at Yale. The ISPY email list is good for finding others and posting questions about schools, playgroups, and popular family neighborhood for example. Join the email list by sending a blank email to this address: I_SPYsubscribe@yahoogroups.com. Also, on Yale’s Worklife Web site, you will find a childcare directory published by Yale, information about Yale’s babysitting services, and many other family resources and links for infants to school-age children. E-mail oiss@yale.edu for a current list of local playgroups.

The 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. There are various school holidays and vacation periods throughout the year. Check the school calendar for the school system in the town or city where you will live.

The New Haven area offers both public and private educations. The differences between them are explained briefly below.

Public Schools

Public schools provide a free 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. In some school systems, including New Haven, there are also magnet schools 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.

Private Schools

There are many private schools in the New Haven area offering different philosophies and educational programs. Unlike public schools, private schools charge tuition and fees. Some scholarships may be available. Some of the schools have a religious affiliation; these schools are sometimes referred to as parochial schools. You will find an extensive list of Connecticut private schools on the website of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools. You can also find a listing of private schools in the yellow pages of your telephone book under Schools.


After-School Care — Since the school day ends around 3pm, working parents normally arrange an after-school program, daycare or in-home baby-sitter for their child. After-school programs are numerous and take place at community centers and schools in the area. All require extra fees and registration. You can begin your search by inquiring at your child’s school.

Daycare — In addition to functioning as after-school care, daycare is preschool aged childcare (children from ages 3 months to 5 years) that can be full-time or part-time, licensed or unlicensed, in a center, church or home. Daycare can be quite structured, or unstructured and can vary greatly in philosophy and practice. Costs vary according to length and range of care from approximately $75 - $250 per week. The New Haven public school system offers low-cost preschool through the Magnet School Program available to anyone. The Yale Childcare Directory online at www.yale.edu/worklife provides more information and a comprehensive list of local daycare centers. Email susan.abramson@yale. edu if you have specific questions.

Babysitters — One of the best ways to find a 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 $10.00 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 babysitting service: www.yale.edu/babysitting

Caregivers on Call — On occasions when regular childcare-givers are not available, e.g., because of center or school closings or caregiver illnesses, you may need to arrange for last minute in-home back-up care. Yale students, faculty, postdocs and staff can register for Yale’s Caregivers On-call program, which is substantially subsidized by Yale, and charges between $7 and $15 per hour on a sliding scale. They are an established provider of back-up child care since 1991, and eligible members of the Yale community are entitled to up to 40 hours of services per year at subsidized rates. Complete details regarding the program and registration materials are available online at www.yale.edu/backupcare

Preschool Education

For children ages three to five years, parents have many quality part-time and full-time preschool options. Preschools offer educational developmentally appropriate programming and can vary greatly in philosophy and practice. When making the mandatory visits to prospective preschools, it is extremely important to pay attention to your intuitive reactions to prospective programs. Preschools are also called nursery schools.

School-Related Information

Remember to bring with you the vaccination and medical records, as well as birth certificates and the school records of your children. You will have to present these documents in order to register your child.

To understand the policies and procedures of the school, ask if they have a handbook for parents.

If you are worried about your child’s social, cultural or educational adjustment, call the school and make an appointment to see your child’s teacher and principal.

If your child will miss a day of school, you must call the school in the morning and tell them. You may send a letter explaining why your child was absent.

Make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the weather, as younger children will usually have time during the day to play outside.

Volunteering in your child’s classroom or school is an excellent way to learn about the U.S. educational system. Parent volunteers are welcome in most schools. Ask your child’s teacher about whom to contact. She may direct you to the principal or the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

Attending PTA meetings at your child’s school is a good way to learn more about what goes on in your child’s classroom and to meet other parents.