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Let school begin!

April 23, 2018

With the admission season approaching, the process of admission into formal schools has taken a great swing. Children start undergoing interviews or tests to get admission to formal schools. All parents gear up for what seems to be the first step to school education– “the first school interview”. This first decision about your child’s education is very important, as it is the beginning of a lifetime of learning.

The entire process of getting admission to a good school has become a nail biting moment, for both the parents and the child. This makes childhood a hurried affair with the pressure to get ahead of others in a world of competition.


  • Let the child be himself
  • Do not over burden the child for the interview
  • Listen carefully to the information shared
  • Both the parents need to present for the first meeting
  • Collect information about the school in advance
  • Be prepared to face a panel of interviewers

Interviews need to be viewed as an interaction process between the parents and the school. These interactions with the parents need to be aimed at familiarizing the child to the school, observing him/her in a school setting for some time in order to understand his interests, get an understanding of the developmental milestones to help the child do better. The process needs to be holistic and all encompassing to help the child get a head start in life. Most importantly the parents need to understand the philosophy of the school, be aligned with the schools ideals and see if the school is ‘Right for their child’. The other important factor that parents need to consider while selecting a school is proximity. The school needs to be easily accessible to the children and parents. It is essential to select a great school and not necessarily a happening school for the child.


  • Check for school proximity
  • Teaching Methodology
  • School hours
  • Number of children in a classroom
  • Safety measures for children
  • Cleanliness and hygiene
  • Rules and regulations
  • Fee Structure and payments

There are government regulations that prohibit school interviews for admission. However due to various other reasons, this
regulation is not being strictly adhered to. Thus, in order to keep up to this demand, children are being trained to face interviews. However, it is important to remember that the child must not be overburdened. Avoid pressurizing the child to learn too many facts. Involve the child in selecting the school. Talk to the child about the school by describing things
he/she might see there. Let the admission process be a stress free one for the child.

Parents and school educators need to uphold the principle of ‘In the best interest of the child’ and make schooling an enjoyable process for the child.



It’s very important to give children a chance.Nikki Giovanni

When I decided to check out the private kindergartens in San Diego for my pint-sized daughter, Alyssa, I knew she would face an interview at each school. Instead of letting her worry, I explained that she would conduct interviews and then tell me what she thought of each school.

Alyssa marched into her first interview with a clipboard and a yellow pencil. On the paper, she had drawn a series of large circles. I smiled and waved at the teacher as she closed the door behind them.

Alyssa’s high-pitched voice carried through the partition. “Okay, the first question I have for you is : How do your markers smell?”

I could hear the teacher laughing in response. This was a good sign. I decided to make a chart myself while I waited.”

The teacher laughed, recovered and said, “ Could you please ask me that question again?”

“Sure,” Alyssa agreed. How do your markers smell? Does your yellow marker smell like lemons or bananas?

“That’s a very good question.” The teacher pondered a moment. “But I don’t know the answer. Let’s go into the classroom and see.” She walked down the hall with Alyssa, who smiled a casual, “Hi, Mom” as they headed to the classrooms. I stayed on my bench, waiting for the verdict. It came about ten minutes later.

“Banana,” Alyssa whispered as they returned to the interview room. Her nose wrinkled in disgust

At dinner that night, Alyssa’s father asked what the thought about the kindergarten she had visited the morning. “Oh, Daddy,” she said, like he should know the answer already, “the school’s yellow magic markers smelled like bananas!” She stuck out her tongue.

“So it was a banana school.” Her attorney father prefers clear-cut answers to every question.

“Yes,” Alyssa concurred, “a banana school.”

“Well, you still have seven more to visit.” He winked at me.

And so it went at school after school. Alyssa asked the same leading question. Some teachers made up a lame answer like, “They smell nice, Alyssa. Please sit properly on your chair so we can get along with my question for you today.” Others ignored the question altogether. Few bothered to go check. I crossed those schools off my list.

At dinner each night, Alyssa’s father would ask about that day’s interviews.

“The teacher doesn’t know about her markers,” she might report.

“Really, really, really banana,” she might reply.

Acouple of schools got a “lemon” score

After we’d visited all the schools, printed out an Excel table that detailed the pertinent facts about each and settled Alyssa on the couch in the living room with her favorite Berney video. Her father and I retreated to the dining-room table where I spread out the school information packets we’d collected.

“Okay, I’ve analyzed each school in terms of their teacher-student ratio, facilities, cost, distance from home and…..”

He held up his hand. “That’s wonderful, honey, but all I want to know is whether your top choice is a banana school or a lemon school?’

I swallowed. “It’s a really, really banana school.”

“A really, really banana school,” he repeated. We both glanced at Alyssa, engrossed in Barney’s millionth rendition of his “I love you” song. “How are we going to tell her?

“Don’t worry, Daddy,” Alyssa called out, her eyes still glued to Barney, “I can bring my own markers!”

Katheleen Ahrens, Ph.D., and Tracy Love, Ph.D.

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