by Erin O'Connor
Halloween is over and the preschool interview process has begun!
Schools vary in their philosophies around “interviews” for children and parents prior to admissions. Some schools believe that it’s important to observe how children interact with others to ensure a balanced classroom in terms of temperaments, interests and skills. Other schools observe the child one on one to get to know them. Schools also differ when it comes to whether they want parents/caregivers to be involved in the interview process.
No matter the set up, the interview process can be anxiety fraught for both parents and children. What are some ways to prepare you and your child for the interview?
1. Talk to your child about what the process will look like so that they have an idea of what to expect. This is especially important if you’ll be separated.
2. If possible, don’t bring along siblings because they can distract your child who is interviewing from interacting.
3. As tempting as it is, don’t bribe your child with a treat if they do a good job on the play date. Your child may be more focused on the “reward” and less willing to engage in the actual experience.
4. Discuss with your child how the play date will end. Even if you don’t know the exact details, you can provide your child with general information such as the teacher will have everyone put their toys away. Transitions can be difficult for young children and transitioning to the end of the play date can be challenging.
5. As a parent, do your research. Schools differ widely in their philosophies - some are Reggio inspired while others Montessori etc. Some schools may be more traditional in their practice and others progressive. You want to find a school that matches your family’s values, as well as your child’s temperament. This is important not only for the interview, but also in the long run. It’s fine to ask questions when touring the school or meeting with admissions and parents. It is best to illustrate, however, that you know general characteristics of the school when you ask a question.
6. After the interview, it is good to send a thank you note. Not only is this an opportunity for you to show the school your interest, but also the process of writing the thank you notes can help you with your decision. As you reflect on what intrigued you most about each school, you will start to discern which schools had philosophies that resonated with you most.