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.
- Your child will be offered a place if they perform well
Getting 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
Parents 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
We 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
During 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
The 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 …