Preschool mom worries about Harvard admission

Manhattan mom needs a reality check 

Did you hear about the New York City mother who’s suing her child’s preschool because she believes the teachers there didn’t prepare her daughter for admission to an Ivy League university?


Our son is a gifted student, though he’s only five. We try not to talk about his achievements too much, but certain family members brag so much about their kids, we tend to jump into the game of “can you top this.” Afterward, we feel terrible that we let ourselves boast and be overly competitive. What can we do to avoid bragging when others go on and on about their children? Post answers on our Family Events Facebook Page.


Last week we asked Family Events readers to suggest ways to deal with a teen who is respectful and courteous at home, but who morphs into a rude teen when friends are around or when out with the family. Here’s what our experts had to say:

Say something to her in front of her friends when she acts like that. If that doesn’t stop it then she can’t be around her friends until she agrees to behave and be herself everywhere; not just with you.


I would prefer not to embarrass my teen in front of his friends — even though he has just embarrassed me! But as soon as I see him at home, I will challenge him then, that there is no need to be rude to anyone in any context. After all, there are ways to be kind to your parents even in front of your friends!

The toughest “pressure” there is, is peer pressure! Wish she had learned to make a “stand” for herself, not to emulate others. That training comes from home… She is not being “cool.” Would that she set the far better example and show her peers she is strong enough to do the right thing!


Demeaning or confronting the youth in front of there peers will only dent their self-esteem even further. There definitely needs to be consequences for their action. if they are going to act like adults (or thinking this is how adults act and talk) it’s a learning curve that needs guidance. It is called situational behaviors that we all do. This is when honest and open communication really needs to happen.
—”Blue Seahorse”


I couldn’t make this up. It’s true.

Nicole Imprescia filed a lawsuit against Manhattan’s York Avenue Preschool for a refund of the $19,000 per year she paid in tuition. She claims the preschool didn’t prepare her four-year-old for the entrance exams that would have gained her admission to a premier, private elementary school, and thus, her chances of getting into an Ivy League college already are dashed.

Apparently, the lawsuit claims the school was just “one big playroom.”

The school’s website indicates they offer a curriculum that seeks to develop preschoolers’ social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical skills.

I hate to break it to Ms. Imprescia, but in preschool, that sort of learning looks a lot like play – and it should!

Clearly, this little girl may have bigger issues down the road than college admission. Or, as my husband likes to joke, one of our duties as parents is to give our children something to tell the therapist when they’re adults.

Preschool is another word for “play”

This crazy story reminds me of an urgent email I received a few weeks ago from a friend who had concerns about the messages she was getting from her son’s preschool teacher. Apparently, the cause for concern was his inability to sit still, recite the alphabet, count objects, and manipulate crayons and pencils. The little guy is only four years old.

My girlfriend didn’t think her son was developmentally delayed, but the preschool teacher’s comments caused her to worry she was missing something.

I emailed back right away and told her she was right. She’s missing a preschool teacher with common sense!

The best advice I could offer to my friend was to grab a copy of Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful by Louise Bates Ames, the guru of child development.

Within a day, my girlfriend emailed again to say, “Whew!” Once she learned what is normal and appropriate for a developing four-year-old, she knew that the problem was her son’s teacher, who demanded too much cognitive progress, and not her son. He was as right as rain!

A preschool setting should offer ample opportunities for children to do the “work” of growing, learning, exploring and mastering new skills, and should be staffed by folks who understand that normal development varies among children.

The fast track from preschool to Princeton

If you really want to assure your child has a shot at an Ivy League life – or for whatever the future may hold – the best strategy is to focus on who he is, not what he does.


When we help our children to grow in virtues such as perseverance, trustworthiness, humility, self-discipline, moderation, honor, civility, reverence and reason, we give them the tools to achieve whatever dreams and goals their ambition suggests.

Instilling these virtues is the most important aspect of parenting and begins when our children are still very young (preschool!). We teach them to try their best to do hard things, tell the truth, follow through on the tasks we assign to them, speak respectfully to others and behave appropriately in various situations. This is how we equip our kids with the competencies and confidence to pursue big plans for themselves.

As they get older, we’ll have lots of chances to help our children enjoy the fruits of these virtues. Getting good grades, achieving in sports or music or the arts, excelling in science fairs and math competitions, or being recognized for public service at a young age are all wonderful accomplishments – for our kids, not for us!

So let’s all take a lesson from that maniacal mom in Manhattan and remember that our job as parents isn’t to plot out some magnificent success story for our kids, but to help them grow up with excellent character and be the best they can be at whatever they set out to achieve.

Thanks for reading and sharing Family Events!

Take good care until next week,


Articles to Follow
Is teen rebellion inevitable? Preschool lawsuit shows new face of hypercompetitive parents 

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Tips on handling rebellious teens Mompetition: 8 tips on how to survive it  

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Turning your child into a mature teen Will picture books hurt your kid’s chances for Harvard? 

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Connecting with your kids Raising better citizens and smarter kids 

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This week’s best buys at your local bookstore
Your Four-Year-Old: Your Four-Year-Old:
Wild and Wonderful 

by Louise Bates Ames

Part of an excellent series for every age and stage.

Stop Second-Guessing Yourself - The Preschool Years: Stop Second-Guessing Yourself – The Preschool Years:
A Field-Tested Guide to Confident Parenting 

by Jen Singer

Part of a three-book series on babies, toddlers and preschoolers – like having coffee with the best mom in the neighborhood!

What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: What Your Preschooler Needs to Know:
Get Ready for Kindergarten 

from the Core Knowledge Foundation

An anthology full of delightful stories that teach the basics.

No More Push Parenting: No More Push Parenting:
How to Find Success and Balance in a Hypercompetitive World  

by Elisabeth Guthrie

Helping parents discover the fine line between good parenting and pressure parenting

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