Kindergarten interviews - What you need to know

It is this time of year that many primary schools commence Kindergarten enrolment interviews with children and their families for the next year. It may seem quite early but most interviews are in full swing across the country.

This can be an anxious time for parents as they are afraid of the unknown. Many parents want their children to “perform” in order to get a place at the school they believe will offer their child the best opportunities. In this blog I share 5 myths about the Kindergarten interview to help shed some light on some of the worries that parents hold.

  1. Your child will be offered a place if they perform well

schoolcatchmentGetting offered a place for your child for primary school the following year is determined by many things, but one of them is not how “academic” they are. Most places are offered on catchment area (the proximity that your residential address is from the school) Occasionally state schools do offer places to children who are on the border or have extenuating circumstances. In most faith based schools places are offered in order of what category that you fall into. Category one are baptised children who practice the faith in the Parish area. Category two are siblings of children already attending the school. Category three are baptised children who practice the faith in a different parish area. These three categories are given priority. After the places have been filled by children in these three categories all other children are considered. This includes baptised children who do not practice their faith, children from other faiths and other pastoral reasons.

2. I need to prepare my child for the interview

imgresParents may feel anxious about the interview because they do not know what to expect. They may feel that they need to “prepare” their child but are unaware of what they need to be focusing on. Firstly I want to say that you do not need to PREPARE your child for activities they may need to do in the interview. Think of the interview as a conversation between the school and family. It is a time for you to ask questions about the school and get a feel for the culture of the school. I would encourage parents to talk to their child about the upcoming interview to reassure the child that they get a chance to have a look at a “big” school. Children like to know about what will happen in order to feel comfortable so mentioning that the the Principal and possibly another teacher may ask them some questions about themselves will put them at ease. That is as much as you need to tell them. Get them excited about this new adventure and rest assure that no matter what happens in the interview places are given by a strict protocol not by what your child says or does not say in the interview.

3. The interview is like an exam

examWe need to put the interview in perspective. The interview is conducted about 8 months prior to starting school. The principal and other teachers on the panel are well aware that children will change so much in that time. Some children will take leaps in their learning, will mature over that time and really become ready for school even though you can not imagine them at school now. The principal or teacher may ask your child a couple of questions and ask them to do a couple of tasks. This is not a test but simply a basic measure to see where the child is at with their learning and identify any obvious areas that may need further investigation. They may be asked to name some colours, write their name, count some objects and answer questions about their interests.

4. I wont tell them about my child’s need as I fear they will not get offered a place

imagesDuring the many kindergarten interviews that I have done, this by far is the one that parents are most fearful about. They are worried that the Principal or teacher will see their child’s “true” colours in the interview and as a result will not get a place. It is so IMPORTANT to ensure that the school has a true image on what your child’s needs are. Early intervention is the most successful strategy to helping children develop skills or concepts so it is important that schools are made aware of any current intervention happening. This may even be notifying them about an appointment time to a specialist in the upcoming months. Schools appreciate parents being proactive and by giving the school this information they are able to make the transition for your child smoother and more successful. If the school knows your child’s needs from day one they are able to put strategies in place for your child to help them make the change from preschool to primary school with less stress and anxiety. Remember that children are not given places in regards to their academic skills or behaviour.

5. I do not want to appear silly so I will not ask any questions
imgresThe interview is not only a chance for the school to learn more about your child but a chance for you to learn about the school. Ask questions about what you want to know. What features of a school are you looking for? You want to walk out of the school with a really good understanding about what they are on about and the priorities they have. Each school is different and it is important to find one that suits your family.

Hopefully you have found this blog insightful and you are feeling more positive about the upcoming kindergarten interview that you have. Enjoy this experience as you begin this new chapter of parenting.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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If you would like to read some more articles by this author please click on the links below.

Big School: 5 tips for making it a smooth transition

Preparing your child for Kindergarten: 10 tips for the reluctant writer

10 ways to help your child learn to read


What every parent should know: The three reading levels

Term 2 is in full swing as children have settled into their new classroom and have developed their relationship with their new teacher. It is usually at this point that many parents want to know how they can help their child by supporting what is happening in the classroom. However, many parents feel quite anxious as their child moves up a grade as they find it difficult to understand what support their child needs. In this blog I am going to share a strategy that all parents can use with their child no matter what their child’s age.

imgresThis strategy is focusing on developing a child’s comprehension of a text and how they engage with the text. A text is any visual or written stimulus that a child is required to make sense of. It is important that they are given a variety of texts such as factual, fiction, and visual (eg advertising brochures) in order to have a deep understanding of how texts work and what they can learn from each.

I have named this strategy : THE THREE LEVELS OF READING

To see if a child truly understands what they have read they need to be able to answer questions about the text. These questions can be divided up into three categories.

Level 1 - Reading ON the line

on the lineThe answers to Level 1 questions are found ON the line of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 1 question the child needs to go back to the text, find the answer and say it. This is a very literal level and requires simple comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Remembering and Understanding

Question starters for this level: Who, what, where, when

Types of activities for this level: List, define, cite, define, retell, explain, describe

Level 2 - Reading BETWEEN the lines

betweenThe answers to Level 2 questions are found BETWEEN the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 2 question the child needs to go back to the text, look for clues that might help them answer it and form their answer with supporting evidence. This is an inferential level and requires good comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Applying and Analysing

Question starters for this level: How and why

Types of activities for this level: Categorise, examine, demonstrate, dissect, implement, compare, contrast

Level 3 - Reading BEYOND the lines

beyondThe answers to Level 3 questions are found BEYOND the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 3 question the child needs to use the information from the text, their own knowledge and understanding of how the world works and apply it to form an answer. This is thematic level and requires high comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Evaluating and Creating

Question starters for this level: What would it be like if …? What is another possible title for this text?, What would you do if…? How does this text connect with your life?

Types of activities for this level: Create, develop, generate, produce, imagine, justify, assess, conclude

It is important that children are asked questions from all levels no matter what their age. Many parents tend to stick with Level 1 questioning because it is simple but it does not give your child enough opportunity to develop their comprehension skills. Asking questions does not have to be a formal task that is done at the end when they are finished reading the text. Ask questions throughout to gauge their understanding and help clarify if needed. Get them to point out what they used to help them answer the question. Encourage your child to return to the text as many times as they want as it is not a memory test. Teaching comprehension skills will give them a solid foundation for reading and as a result help them in all subject areas.

If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember this “Comprehension floats on a conversation”. Talk with your child about what you or they have read and ensure they really understand the purpose and ideas that are trying to be conveyed by the author.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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If you want to read more articles from this author please click on the links below:

10 ways to help your child to read

How to help your child form their letters correctly

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading levels


10 Great Mother’s Day Ideas for Kids

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and what better way to show your appreciation for your mum than a handmade gift especially for her. In this blog we have put together 11 great, simple and inexpensive ideas that will inspire your child or the children in your class to make a beautiful gift for the special lady in their life. These ideas can also be adapted for grandmothers and aunties as well.

  1. Handprint Bouquet 

handprint bouquetWhat you need: Different coloured paint, paper, ribbon,  glue

Method: Children dip their hand into the paint and make four handprints on the paper. When it is dry, paint a heart in the middle of each and paint a stem from each to the bottom of the page. Attach a bow to the stems to make it look like a bunch of flowers.

This would also work well for a large Mother’s day card or on a canvas to make an original artwork.

2. Handprint Poem

HandprintpoemWhat you need: a computer, paint, white paper and a piece of coloured paper.

Method: Choose a Mother’s day poem or type an original poem on white paper. Trim 1-2 centimetres on each side of the white paper. Children dip their hands in paint and make a few handprints on the white paper. When dry, stick the white paper on a coloured piece of paper.


3. Photo Collage

collage of photosWhat you need: camera, printer, chalk, computer

Method: Children can draw a variety of backgrounds on the ground with chalk. The child then lays on the ground and you take a picture of them. You can arrange the photos together as a collage and put them in a frame. You might even write some text on it saying “Happy Mother’s Day 2016”

4. Tissue paper flowers

tissue paperflowersWhat you need: coloured tissue paper, pipe cleaners, scissors

Method:  Cut tissue paper into squares according to the size of flower you want. ( I do 15cmx15cm) Put 12 squares together (one coloured or multi) and do a fan fold. Tie a pipe cleaner around the middle ensuring there is a long stem. Round the edges of the tissue paper while folded with scissors. Open up one layer at a time and fluff up the tissue paper.


5. Mother’s Day Card 1

card1What you need: Card stock, Markers, colour paper, string or ribbon, glue

Method: Do a tri fold with the card stock. On the front page write the word “MUM” and stick coloured pieces of paper that have been ripped off the larger paper. On the second fold, stick a coloured piece of paper and write “I LOVE YOU” on it. Draw a heart on the third fold and fill it with ripped coloured pieces of paper. Underneath the heart write “TO PIECES”. When finished, close the card and tie ribbon or string around it.

6. Mother’s Day Card 2

card2What you need: cardstock, coloured pieces of cardboard, scissors and markers

Method: Fold the cardstock in half. Cut a variety of circles of varying sizes from different coloured cardboard. Cut strips of cardboard for the stems. Cut a square or rectangle and stick on the front ensuring you leave the top side open. Assemble 3 flowers using 4 coloured circles. Glue the stem on each flower and glue stem in vase. Write a Mother’s Day message on the inside.

7. Candle art

candle decorationWhat you need: White tissue paper, coloured markers, hairdryer, baking paper, candle

Method : Children draw pictures and/or write words on the tissue paper that has been cut a little smaller than the candle. (be careful as tissue paper is delicate) Hold the tissue paper on the candle and wrap a larger piece of baking paper around it. An adult needs to hold the hairdryer on each part of the candle until the tissue paper melts into the wax of the candle. This will take a couple of minutes. When complete take off the baking paper and the image is now on the candle.

8. Footprint art

footprintartWhat you need: Canvas, paint, marker

Method: Children put their feet in paint and make two sets of footprints on the canvas. Use green paint to make a stem for each and put some leaves and grass on the artwork. Using a marker, write a Mother’s Day message. Wait for it to dry before wrapping it up.



9. Pot plant art

flowerpotWhat you need: Terracotta pot, acrylic paint, baking paper and newspaper

Method: Put newspaper on the table and put baking paper on top. Turn a terracotta pot upside down and place in the middle of the baking paper. Squeeze the paint down the sides of the pot. Do not remove until it is completely dry. The baking paper will easily come off with the extra dried paint on it. Add a plant and you have a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day.


10. Child blowing kisses

photocanvasartWhat you need : Canvas, Photo of child, paint, coloured paper

Method: Take a picture of the child in a kiss blowing position. Print photo and cut out around child. Paint the background of the canvas and wait until it is dry. Stick photo in corner of canvas. Cut out little hearts using a variety of paper. Stick hearts on the canvas from the mouth of the child going upwards.


Hopefully some of these ideas have set your creative juices going. On behalf of Creating A Learning Environment, I would like to wish all mothers a wonderful day on Sunday full of special memories and lots of kisses.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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