School Interviews -- Averting Disaster

If you, as a parent, are planning to have your child go through the admissions process to gain acceptance into a gifted and talented public or ongoing private school, it is imperative that you support your child, but do not over coach him or her on how to act, what to say or bribe him or her with a huge present!

Kids can be unpredictable, to say the least! They have good days and bad days and each one has their own unique personality, attributes and well... some things we would like to change.

I will never forget attending my son's interview for elementary school. My only goal was for the school to see his best traits: his politeness, intelligence and his caring attitude towards other children. The interview seemingly went great, but I noticed his, well, not so wonderful side emerging as we were getting ready to exit the building. He announced in the loudest most annoying voice that he did not intend to go to the school, needed to pee and that he did not like one of the boys he was just playing with in the playgroup. Our exit from the building was quick.

This happens, and there is little we can do to control our wonderful young children applying to school. At some point, we have to just hope for the best and forget about having them behave in a "certain way" -- as this usually backfires! Kids are honest, upfront little people who wear their emotions on their sleeve and like to talk endlessly about every secret in their parent's household. We have seen and heard this over and over when we worked in various admissions offices.

"My mom told me if I behave, we are going to Disneyworld!"

"My dad said to tell you that my favorite thing to do is to read, but I can't remember the name of the book."

"My mom told me to tell you that you are my favorite teacher in the whole world, you are not... should I still tell you?"

The truth is that the teachers who are working with your children come with a wealth of experience. In addition, kid's personalities and true characters tend to come out in these interviews. PLEASE refrain from instructing your child, what to do, what to say and how to act!

Here are some tips we DO recommend:

- Instead of Disneyworld, maybe a special snack or time with a parent doing something they like if on their "best behavior"

- Be honest with your child about the expectations for behavior in any school setting

- Tell your child to look at the teacher when they ask them a question so she will know he is listening

- Tell him you will be waiting to see him when he is done and waiting to hear all that he did!

- Remind your child to smile when meeting the teachers. It really goes a long way!

As education and admissions experts, we feel honesty is the best policy. Your child will be spending a big part of his growing years in the school in which he gains an admission spot. Explaining the rules of appropriate behavior is more than acceptable, but using certain false tactics to try to control your child's performance could be detrimental!