Already Look at Elementary Schools for Your Toddler? You’re Not Alone.

Working with young families looking at independent schools, I can say without hesitation that I truly love my job. Here’s one thing that gets me excited: parents with babies and toddlers who call to ask when they should start the school process. Ok, so you are not all perfect masters of organization, but you do share a common thread – you want to make the best choices for your child right from the start.

In areas like Baltimore or Boston, where it seems like there’s an independent school on every corner, you first have to figure out what you like and what you’re looking for. Hence, the Spring Preview, Tour, or Open House. There is nothing like seeing and smelling the classrooms, tuning in to the interactions among students and between students and teachers, and getting an overall sense of the campus. Is there a safe, inviting outdoor play space? And how often do children get to go outside? Is there a special teacher for music? Art? Science? When do they start teaching foreign language? And what is the library like? Look for fun and enriching programs that include sports, dance and instrument lessons during aftercare, too.

What better time to start looking for a school, than when there is no pressure to decide quickly, and you have plenty of time to look at several options. Check online, ask your colleague, your dentist, your realtor – find out what’s nearby, what people are excited about, and then schedule some appointments. The schools you contact should be happy to have you take a springtime tour. Their busiest season is over, and they’ll have time to spend with you. In fact, if you start early enough, Admissions Directors will become your new best friends, and you’ll become a school search leader in your community.   This way, when the time is right, you’ll know just who to call and just what to do!

Martha Donovan

Martha Donovan

Mrs. Donovan is the Associate Director of Lower School Admissions at St. Paul’s. She previously spent ten years in Middle and Upper School Admissions at the Key School in Annapolis, where her three children graduated. Since coming to St. Paul’s, she and her husband have moved to Baltimore and love it. Mrs. Donovan also has experience as a national news editor with NBC Radio and Mutual News, and spent a year as a Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. You will often find her in the Kindergarten classrooms or on the early carpool line, anywhere she can see the kids in action. She can be reached at

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