Manhattan Parents Pay $400 an Hour for Play Date Consultations

When you think of Manhattan, what pops into mind? You think posh lofts, models walking their poodles (or some kind of hybrid designer-breed variation), decadently expensive eateries and … private schooling. Not just any private schooling though: Manhattan is home to some of the most expensive and selective schools in the nation.

So it's not a huge surprise that in this borough of New York, a whole new type of commodity has reared its head. Enter: play date consultations, a high-priced advising service for teeny tots entering the Manhattan school district.

Why would a parent hire out play date help? Well, The New York Post reports that many of these elite children may be highly skilled in certain areas, like speaking a second language or masterfully holding a crayon, but fail at the simplest tasks – like playing with other kids. And turns out private schools look at every aspect of the child during the admission process – including how well they interact with others their age.

Aristotle Circle provides such services to super-rich parents. A short description of what they do:

"Practice eases the pressure of admissions playgroups and helps to ensure positive outcomes. Work with our network of experts to assess your child's style and help them be their best self on the play date."

How sad is that? Even sadder, parents could shell out $400 AN HOUR for these services. Aristotle Circle has varying prices depending on the type of services your child receives. On average, admissions help costs $350 and up, while playgroup services run about $400 per child for a 40-60 minute session (meant to recreate the observation session the school provides). This playgroup session follows up with a highly detailed report meant to inform parents of the areas their child can improve upon. The report includes information on the reaction of the child to parental separation, their interaction with other kids and adults, engagement levels and language skills.

The overwhelming response to the NY Post article has been negative. As Jake Needham tweeted, "The end is nigh."

Also on Twitter, father of five Andrew Dyer adds, "You know WHY your kid needs help with socialization? You pay someone else to teach them how to play! BE A PARENT!"

Though this admissions counseling seems to be common in densely populated places like New York, San Francisco and Houston, Michigan has yet to jump on the bandwagon. Even with highly accredited and competitive venues like Cranbrook Schools in our midst, finding a local consultant to sit in on your kid's play date may prove to be a challenge closer to home.

And, if national outcry is any clue, that shouldn't upset too many local moms and dads.


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