Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Separate and Engage

This morning, we had our initiation into the world of private school kindergarten admissions and all is not well. To be admitted to tony private school, in addition to paying the processing fee and answering the essay questions on the application and getting a recommendation from his preschool teachers, there is a parent interview, a "readiness assessment" of the child and an observed "playdate" in the kindergarten. This morning we had our parent interview and JR was to meet with the person who does the
"readiness assessment." The playdate is in January.

We told him about it last night, explaining that he would meet with a teacher in one room while mommy and daddy were in another room meeting with another teacher. We promised that we would all go out to breakfast afterward. We talked about it again on the way out to the school this morning.

JR initially did not want to go with the teacher to her office, but he followed me into the room. He was clingy and reverted to his "baby talk" ("mama, mama"). Miss B attempted to engage him. When it looked like he was calm and ready, I gave him a kiss and slipped out. The crying started. We were to have a tour of the school and then our interview. Miss B called the receptionist and advised that we shouldn't enter the room, but we shouldn't go on the tour - we should stay nearby.

We went into the adjoining office for our interview. The crying subsided. We chatted with Miss Be2 about how wonderful Joseph is. We made Miss Be2 laugh. We had been sweating our interview, but since all she asked about was JR, the questions were slam dunks and everything was going swimmingly. We talked about how competitive kindergarten admissions had gotten, but the tone was definitely "don't worry, he sounds wonderful, his preschool recommendations were terrific."

We finished and JR was in the lobby, constructing an elaborate truck out of blocks. We talked a bit about the next step (the playdate), put our coats on, got ready to leave. Out comes Miss B.

"I just have to tell you that JR completely shut down. He refused to interact with me. He would not respond to any of my tricks. I even tried bribery. He would not engage."

She told us that our option is to try again or to withdraw our application. I asked if I could sit in the next time and was told "No. He has to be able to separate and engage." I asked if they would consider him for admittance without the readiness assessment. An emphatic no.

We are at a loss. Do we put him through another interview
with Miss B? If we do, what is the likelihood that it will go
any better the next time? If it does go better, how tainted will his application be by the fact that he so decidedly flunked the first try?

What do we do at the next private school? JR has always been "slow to warm up" (in our pediatrician's words), especially with adult strangers. How do we get him to show the world how fabulous he is?
And of course, what do we do about schools? If private schools are not an option because he can't pass the interview, that leaves us at the mercy of the lotteries for the public and charter schools. That just seems so risky and scary to us right now.

How do we (should we) work with JR on his shyness (which is crippling in these types of situations)?

And finally, how do we keep our disappointment in the process from resonating with JR as a disappointment in him? Because, honestly, I find the whole idea of expecting a 4 y.o. to "interview" with an adult to get into school a bit on the ridiculous side. And I truly do love and adore him and think he is wonderful.

1 comment:

the goddess said...

By now you know what we all think of Ms. B. That there school ain't good enough fer your boy!