On Sunday, I took Josh for his first school interview. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised at what I saw.
There were easily over 100 children in the assembly hall. As we entered, Josh was given a sticker with his name on it and then he was led to the front of the hall where there were six small tables. Each table had around 5-6 children. There were crayons, pens, and paper, so that they could draw while waiting to be taken to the classroom where they will be “interviewed.” A teacher was at each table talking to the children while they drew.
In the meantime, parents were free to browse the tables where the school had set up a display of the educational materials they use for Primary 1 (P1). After that, we had a choice of sitting in the Waiting Area outside for when the children come out from their interview or we could do a school tour conducted by one of the older students (P5 or P6).
When Josh came out from the interview, he told me that they watched a clip and afterwards the teacher asked them questions about what they had seen –one question for each child in the room. That was it. I don’t know if there was more to it beyond that, but Josh said that after they answered the question, each child was then led back to the Waiting Area.
This is it. A couple more rounds of this similar process with the two other schools that we’d applied to. And we will receive notification of their assessment (and eventual acceptance or rejection) sometime early next year.
Josh seems pretty cool about the whole thing, so I’m not very worried. I am concerned, though, about my lack of preparation for this one. A student “portfolio” was an optional element in the application –limited to five A4-size sheets. I did put together a couple of the press releases that featured Josh taking part in an art exhibit when he was but two years old, a letter of recommendation from his current school’s Director, and another page where I described how Josh is as a child, as a “learner,” his interests, etc. I thought that would be good enough. How much of a portfolio can a 4-year old have anyway? Wrong thinking, Mommy!
I felt so inadequate when I saw the portfolios that other parents had put together. Five full A4 pages, double-sided, filled to the brim with photos and information, featuring the child in different light –as an athlete, as a musician, as an artist, a world traveller (yes!), etc. I don’t think I even put photos of Josh on any of the pages that I’d submitted beyond the requisite ID photo on the application form.
Ah well. This school that we went to on Sunday is a local private school, with a very good reputation. Apparently highly competitive and not easy to get in to. This one is our second choice. Only because we are concerned about the amount of homework that local schools are notorious for, but we’ll see. The students that we’ve met all were reasonably fluent in English and Putonghua, while being able to speak Cantonese, too; more importantly, all seemed happy and very well-adjusted. Of course, I'm sure only the best students were hand-picked to show us around that day. Still.
*Sigh* Now the waiting begins.