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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Preschool Interviews

NYC parents have a lot riding on their toddlers and preschoolers getting into the nursery school of choice. In some cases, a year of preschool can cost as much as college tuition (over $35,000), but that’s only if you get in. Not all toddlers (or parents, for that matter) pass the interview process though. For toddlers, the “interview” is a not quite an interview, but a “play date” in which a child is being observed and assessed.

National Public Radio (NPR) recently highlighted some of the ways that parents and toddlers can blow or ace a preschool interview.

Here are some deal killers in the interview process:

  • Getting violent with the other children in the interview – you know, hitting and such (toddler)
  • Biting (toddler)
  • Having your cell phone on and being constantly interrupted (parents)
  • Showing up with your coffee or breakfast in hand (parents)
  • Being overbearing/helicopter parent with your child during playtime
  • Badgering, belittling, or scolding your child too harshly for behaving their age

So if these are the things that can get your application rejected, what are some of the things that can get help you pass the interview/play date, and hopefully get an acceptance letter?

  • Showing natural curiosity (toddlers)
  • Remaining calm and not reacting to other toddlers who start hitting you (toddlers)
  • Dressing appropriately (both toddler and parents)
  • Flattery (both toddler and parents)
  • Being yourself (parents and toddler)
  • Try to relax (parents)

Yes, for people who live outside of NYC (or even outside of Manhattan), it seems absurd that there are do’s and don’ts for nursery school interviews. For Manhattan families though, given the level of competition for preschool slots, it is important that parents spend time learning what to expect and how to make the interview a positive experience for everyone involved.

For those unfamiliar with the process, please visit our Nursery School Admissions Videos page, which includes the following video:



Oh, and yes, there are companies like Aristotle Circle, which help prepare you and your child for with mock interviews for the big day:

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