As parents, we’ve conducted many interviews throughout our lives. We’re comfortable with the interview format, and typically have a decent idea of how to present our story. But for many parents, a kindergarten interview seems a bit ridiculous: how can a young child conduct an interview?!
Fear not: kindergarten interviews are not nearly as formal or intense as most other interview settings. Interviews are simply a chance for teachers or admissions committee members to get to know your child’s unique personality, and get a cursory read of their development. Think of kindergarten interviews as a playdate with an adult who wants to see your child succeed.
We don’t recommend that parents engage in a formal “preparation” routine with their child ahead of kindergarten interviews. However, there are a few ways to make sure your child is comfortable and ready to show off their best selves during the interview. Read on for our tips:
What to Expect in a Kindergarten Interview
The interviewer’s goal for an interview or assessment, whether online or in-person, is to get to know your child and get a sense of their verbal and academic capabilities. Interviews should be fun and engaging, so set the stage for your child that this is an exciting (not stressful) event: they’ll be meeting with a teacher who wants to play some games!
Getting Ready for the Interview
There are a few basic ways to ensure that your child is set up for success in a kindergarten interview. These include:
- Practice a few skills. Again, we don’t recommend a rigorous preparation schedule ahead of a kindergarten interview. However, there are a set of basic skills that interviewers will likely be assessing; it shouldn’t be too difficult to work these concepts into your child’s existing play routine. In the weeks leading up to an interview, focus on things like: shapes, colors, letters, numbers, similarities and differences, opposites, memory, and problem solving.
- Prepare your equipment. We recommend purchasing child-friendly headphones; even better if your child can pick them out (or decorate them), so they feel a sense of ownership over the process. Also ensure that you have a functioning computer with a camera and Zoom installed ahead of the interview. We recommend using a laptop with a camera in the center (as opposed to a tablet with an off-center camera) so your child can more easily make eye contact. If they aren’t already, familiarize your child with Zoom/Skype/FaceTime so they’re used to talking to someone through the computer. Calling grandparents or friends is a great way to practice making eye contact, answering questions, and staying still during a Zoom call.
- Set up the interview room. Choose a room where your child will feel most comfortable. If they’ve already been conducting lots of Zooms, try to use the same place for consistency. Set up the computer, test the lighting, and make sure both audio and video are clear. Make sure the room is as quiet and distraction-free as possible: clean the desk of everything but the computer (unless the school gives instructions to have specific materials on hand).
- Make sure your child is ready to engage. If possible, schedule the interview at the ideal time of day for your and your child’s schedule: some kids are at their most alert in the morning, while others engage better in the afternoon. Make sure your child has adhered to their standard nap schedule (if applicable) ahead of the interview. Feed them a snack and make sure they’ve gone to the bathroom before the meeting begins.
Finally, and most importantly: get your child ready to have fun! They should look forward to the interview as a chance to play new games and show off what they know. Be careful to describe the interview with excitement (not with nervousness or frustration) in the weeks leading up to the interview, so your child doesn’t have any trepidation leading into the meeting. If they can show up, be themselves, and have fun, the kindergarten interview will be a huge success.