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In most parts of America, gone are the days when a mother just sent little Johnny off to the neighborhood school for the first time at the age of five. Most parents think pre-k and even preschools are prerequisites for entrance into a "good" elementary school now.
Today, there are charter schools, religious schools, private schools, and even homeschool options to think about. And choosing a school the parents like is half the battle. The kid still has to get in first.
Even at some of the top public schools, there are not enough spots for all the children who want to attend. This was the case during open enrollment for the Penn Alexander school, a public charter school in West Philadelphia, this year.
Parents started lining up 24 hours before the doors would even open to accept their application. The low teacher-to-student ratio, an excellent reputation, and a substantial subsidy from the University of Pennsylvania helped to create the frenzy for the 60 open spots for the upcoming school year. More than 100 parents applied.
But getting into a "good" school isn't all about luck or standing in line like it's Black Friday. Some parents know the testing and psychological evaluations many private schools engage in can be detrimental to some four-year-olds' chances for admittance. This is why tutoring, (yes ... tutoring), for the three- to five-year-old set is on the rise.
As reported on Yahoo.com, Joe Nativo, CFO of North American Kumon, told The Boston Globe Magazine that most of the company's growth is in the "Junior Kumon" program.
In this preschool-designed program parents can shell out hundreds of dollars each month so their prekindergartener can learn math and reading skills to fare well on entrance exams and in the rigors of private school classrooms.
Some parents now believe that five-year-olds should already be reading by the time they reach kindergarten. And tutoring, flash cards, and expensive DVD programs may be forcing this important milestone to happen sooner than later.