If you thought college applications were rough, you haven't seen the current state of competitive preschool admissions. I understand that parents want to give their kid a head start and the best education possible, but when people are hiring consultants to coach them into getting their 3-year-old accepted at the most exclusive, best program, you know something has gone terribly awry. I looked at dozens of online applications and read numerous articles for "savvy" parents looking to get their little Einstein into the premier preschool, and I was astonished by these ridiculous questions from real preschool applications.
I looked at a total of two preschools. I wanted my child in a bilingual program, and there were only two options. I ended up going with the cheaper, closer option. The classrooms were clean and bright, the playground safe but not too safe, and the teachers warm and welcoming. I must say when I was relieved that all they asked for were basic permissions, emergency contacts, and statement of health from our pediatrician. We made a deposit, reserved our spot, and that was that. My daughter started Spanish immersion preschool at 18 months of age, and we never looked back.
It's important that the place your child spends the most time away from home be a good fit for them, but I don't think it makes or breaks their future. Personally, I think the whole preschool application process has gotten out of hand, and I don't know how these places expect parents to seriously answer any of the following:
"What Type Of Communicator Is Your Child?"
When my child was 18-months-old and starting preschool, she was communicating in a series of grunts, whines, and pointed gesticulating. She cried for just about everything. She can talk now, but I mean, the kid says "pee pee" and "pretty" the same exact way. I don't know if I should admire her or rush her to the bathroom. If I had to go with one of the six types, I'd say Senator because it sounds less aggressive than Demander in Chief.
"If We Were To Walk Into Your Child's Classroom, How Would We Know Which Child Was Yours?"
I'd say she's the one in the Elmo shirt who looks like she could possibly be the fifth Beatle, but I'm guessing they're not looking for a physical description. I suppose they want to know that she'd be the one quietly "cooking" at the play kitchen or industriously writing her letters (lower and upper case). Which one is my kid? Like, I don't know, try yelling her name.
"What Are Your Child's Greatest Achievements?"
Did I miss something here? Are toddlers supposed to have achievements? I know there are milestones, and those are important. Walking, talking, using a spoon? Check, check, and check. She hasn't mastered Chinese calligraphy, but she has gotten over her fear of the bath (bubbles are scary), so I'm going with that.
"What Do You Hope Your Child Will Accomplish?"
Count me among the former-teacher moms who don't want their kids learning "academic" skills. I know that creative, independent play and learning to cooperate with others are more important to later learning than letters or numbers. What do I hope my daughter accomplishes? I hope she learns that school is a place she wants to be.
"What Are Your Child's Weaknesses?"
Well, I guess she's just too much of a perfectionist. Seriously, like commence humble bragging. I don't think they really want to know that my daughter's Achilles heel is her 2.5 second attention span. Experts suggest "sandwiching" the weakness between two strengths. It all sounds a little too like a job interview for my taste.
"From What Activities Does Your Child Derive Self-Confidence?"
I'm going to go with defying her mother.
"Does Your Child Have Any Special Skills?"
Yes, namely falling asleep in the car precisely two minutes before we arrive at our destination, naming all the people she knows who aren't cats, and pooping at the only time I let her have a diaper (nap and night).
I mean, what do they expect? That she can sign the alphabet? I'm pretty sure all they need to know is that she can feed herself (mostly) and pee in the potty. #GoodToGo
"What's Your Parenting Philosophy?"
My honest-to-goodness parenting philosophy is "do what works." It's a hodgepodge of Love and Logic and lighthouse parenting, plus what I gleaned from watching my mom and what I learned after being a teacher for 13 years. I'm not going to pretend that I faithfully prescribe to the "one true philosophy."
If any of my answers mean a preschool doesn't want to take my kid, that's fine. It's their loss because she's a freaking amazing human being, even if she thinks she's a kitty.