Preparing for Preschool Admissions
Challenges in Nursery and Primary School Admissions
In many parts of the world, the number of spots in good preschools or primary schools is smaller than the number of children who apply. This makes entry into the nursery or primary school of one's choice all the more difficult. No wonder parents today say that one of the most daunting tasks they face is to get their child admitted to a good school.
Even the word "admissions" can seem synonymous with “nightmare.” Once a child has a secure spot in a good school, their parent can finally relax—at least for a while—regarding their child’s school situation.
Visiting a range of preschools both with and without your child is key to learning about your options. You will want to know whether the school's daily routine and philosophy are in sync with your child's temperament and your family culture.
Many schools want to interview children during the application process. Parents of older children know, however, that nursery schools are not just interested in whether the child is ready to enter school. While there are many nursery schools that do not attach much weight to the parents' background, many others want to know the parents' employment situation and income. Schools want to gauge whether a family will be able to support the child financially and, if they work full time, whether they will be able to spend time with their child. Most likely the school also wants to ensure that parents are able to pay tuition and even make additional financial contributions to the school.
Parents can prepare for the daunting preschool search by knowing what questions they want to ask, and what questions they will be asked. This article will help you to get ready for both these steps.
Interviewing at a Prospective Preschool
If a primary or preschool says they want to interview your child during the application process, don't panic. Preschool interviews are generally gauged to the age of the child and are play-based with some question and answer time. Most likely the school staff will assess whether your child knows the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, and rhymes and goes to a play group or day care.
As you visit a preschool and speak with the director and teachers, be aware that they are interviewing you, too. By getting to know the parents, the school is also able to see how a child is being brought up, what the child's needs are, and how the parents address those needs.
Be prepared to answer lots of questions, even some rather personal ones, when visiting prospective primary schools. The more prepared you are, the easier your visit will be.
Primary School Questions and Answers for Parents
The primary school staff may ask you the following questions:
• Share a memorable moment with us about your child. (Tip: Think of a special memory of being with your child that made you especially proud.)
• How do you expect this school to contribute to your child's life? (Tip: Talk about how being in a good school will give your child a sound foundation for life and groom him or her into a socially mature citizen.)
• How much time do you spend with your child? (Tip: Talk about where you work, your working hours, and how much time you spend with your child at dinner, doing household chores, and on family outings.)
• What are your child's hobbies? (Tip: Talk about your child's interests in collecting things, reading, art, or helping in the garden.)
• Who takes care of your child in your absence? (Tip: Talk about the child's grandparents or a babysitter, nanny, or ayah you have hired to look after the child.)
Questions Parents Should Ask a Preschool
Your child will spend precious time at the preschool or primary school you choose (and which has a place for them!). Be sure it is the right place for them.
Come prepared to ask teachers and the director the following questions:
• What does a typical daily routine look like?
• Do children freely choose their activity or is the program more structured?
• How do staff handle discipline issues?
• Is there time for sleep or rest during the day?
• Does the school provide all food and meals or should the child come to school with a lunch?
• Is there outdoor space with safe play equipment?
• As children grow, is there an academic program to prepare them for the next level of schooling?
All the best and good luck!