Do you want to ace the parent interview for private school admissions? Are you wondering what the interview is like and how to prepare?
You’re in luck as my wife and I just went through seven parent interviews and finally got our son into a private preschool that goes through the 8th grade. We are based in San Francisco, one of the toughest cities for children to get into a good private preschool. The difficulty of getting into a private grade school is often rivaled with getting into one of the top colleges.
This article will share what to expect from the parent interview, what kind of questions the admissions officer will ask, and how you should respond. When it comes to getting your kid into preschool or private grade school, between 50% – 80% of the reason for getting in is due to the parents.
Preschools and private grade schools want to welcome involved parents in good financial standings. The parent interview process is an opportunity for the schools to get to know whether parents can be positive contributors to the school community.
How Long Is The Average Parent Interview
The parent interview for preschool or private grade school usually runs about 30-45 minutes long. You’ve got 30-45 minutes to showcase why your family wants to attend this school and how you can contribute.
What To Wear During The Parent Interview
You should com to the parent interview looking clean, neat, and put together. Please don’t wear any strong perfume or obnoxious clothing.
I recommend parents wear semi-formal clothing. You want to look as presentable as possible without seeming stiff. Like it or not, first impressions matter.
As a man, I recommend wearing casual work shoes, nice jeans, a collared long sleeve shirt, and a blazer. A suit is too formal. You can probably get away with dress pants and a collared shirt. But the blazer really makes you look sharp.
For the ladies, I recommend similar business casual attire as well. A long dress works well or a blouse with a pair of dress pants. Comfortable work shoes are a safe bet.
Common Questions Asked During The Parent Interview
Here are the most common questions asked during the parent interview for preschool or private grade school.
Why our school? – The purpose of this question is to find out whether you’ve done your homework on the preschool. Since there are various ways of teaching, they want to make sure you are onboard with their methods and philosophies. Learn the history, teaching style, hours of operation, and curriculum beforehand.
Tell us a time when you were certain your little one was one way, but your little one showed you otherwise. – This question tests how flexible you are as a parent, and how easily you can adapt to new ways of learning. As parents, we have many blindspots. We often think our little one is smarter, cuter, quieter, and more agreeable than he or she really is. It’s important to have a realistic view of your child.
How would you describe your son and daughter’s personality? – The school wants to hear how well you know your little one. No parent is going to admit their kid is a terrible tyrant. But they can get clues if your little one is indeed hard to manage. Say what comes up first. Be natural and honest. Not every kid is ready for preschool at 2.5. Not every middle school kid is ready for the rigors of a new program either.
More Common Questions
How would you describe your parenting style? – The admissions officer just wants to get more of an idea of how you parent and whether your style will mesh well with their style. Again, if the school is very structured, they may want to hear a more structured parenting style answer. If the school is very progressive and play based, then the opposite may be true.
How do you take in feedback from the teachers? – The more prestigious the private school, the more hardcore parents there are. But no teacher or administrator wants to deal with difficult tiger parents who are rigid in their ways. Private schools want to see the parents as parents who will work together in the development of the child and take constructive criticism positively.
How would you like to be involved in the community? A private school loves parent involvement. The more you can volunteer, the better. Parent involvement is one of the key differentiating factors between private school and public school. Private schools don’t want to be viewed as child-care depositories for parents.
The Parental Interview For Private School Admissions Is Crucial
Treat the parental interview as you would a job interview. The parent interview is there for you to showcase your personality, community involvement, and childcare philosophies. Getting into preschool or private grade is a lot like matchmaking.
You may think a particular school is a match for your child. However, you might discover during the parent interview the school is not a match. Perhaps the teaching philosophies are a little different than what you had read online. Or perhaps you don’t like how the school aggressively fundraises.
The parent interview is equally there for parents to get to know the school. There may very well be follow up parental interviews as well, in addition to a play date interview for your child.
Parents and the parent interview matter more than you think! Parental involvement is huge because private schools don’t have the financial support of the government. Everything is up to the own private community.
At the end of the day, both sides want the right fit. Learn more about how to get into a selective preschool or private grade school.
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About the author: Sam is a stay at home dad to two young kids under 4 based in San Francisco. Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 to help people achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.
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