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How Young Kids Can Succeed on Zoom: Tips for Gifted and Talented NYC and Private School Admissions

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

As schools remain closed across the country, parents must adapt routines and reset expectations in order to help their preschool and kindergarten-aged children navigate their new educational reality. An ever-increasing number of private and public schools use the Zoom virtual conferencing and communication platform for everything from preschool lessons, to admission tests for Gifted and Talented NYC programs, to general school attendance and participation.

Children who have not had exposure to the traditional classroom setting or admissions process must quickly learn entirely new ways to engage with adults and other children. This new reality requires two main changes. First, both parents and private educators need to work with young children so they are able to use the Zoom platform success

fully. Second, parents must also understand new changes to private and public school admissions procedures and assessments in order to position their child in the best possible light.

New Virtual Systems Parents Must Know

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both public and private schools and academic organizations have shifted how they operate when it comes to admissions procedures and conducting lessons. If your four to five-year-old child is preparing to enter preschool or kindergarten in Fall 2020, chances are that the majority of their education will take place over Zoom. The Zoom video-chatting program has emerged as the most popular option, used in numerous educational settings.

Using the Zoom Platform

Any computer or smartphone can run Zoom for distance learning and general communication. The NYC Department of Education has approved a DOE-licensed version with additional security features. This platform is also widely used for private school admissions procedures.

How Can Parents Help Their Children Succeed on Zoom?

Issues with childhood engagement and attention may arise while using this platform. It is more challenging for young children to sit in front of the screen and talk with a teacher or school administrator than it would be to meet in person.

As with most new activities, parents should introduce the Zoom virtual conference program to their young children as soon as possible. Absolutely do this well before the scheduled assessment or admissions test date. It may take quite a lot of exposure for a preschool-aged child to focus consistently while engaging with this new form of communication.

It is important to understand that a parent, guardian, tutor, or other adult will not be allowed to influence the assessment process directly once the child is connected to the organization’s or school's representative. Of course, you can sit nearby to observe and answer questions the assessor directly has for you, but the child will be the focus of the appointment.

Practice helps, so you should create frequent communication opportunities for your child over Zoom so they understand how it looks, sounds, and functions. Get other people involved in this learning process! Remind your child that the video chats they do online are important for school and that they should be on their best behavior, as if the other adult was right there in the room with them.

Help prevent distractions by keeping brothers, sisters, or friends out of the room whenever an educational conversation happens. Do not let the child play with their pet or any favorite toys during the meeting, either. That being said, small items like fidget cubes, balls of putty, or similar items may help them retain mental focus while allowing a physical outlet for their energy. Experiment with various options well before the assessment date. However, do not choose anything that will make a mess of your computer or their hands, or ultimately lead to shift in their attention.

When in doubt about your ability to familiarize your young child with Zoom so that they make the best impression possible, hire a virtual tutor to help with everything from communication to preparation for private school admissions, Gifted and Talented Program tests, and more.

The Difference in Virtual Education

The primary issues with virtual communication and classroom activities include distraction, inattention, and lack of engagement with events or the teacher or administrator on the other side of the screen. Four- and five-year-olds are used to getting up frequently, moving around, and switching from one activity to the next in quick succession. These actions are the primary structure of an ordinary preschool setting. If a child suddenly has to sit in front of the computer to do these same tasks and activities, it simply does not work out as expected and the end results are not the same.

When it comes to essential meetings or introductions before the school year even starts, the same difficulties come into play. Private institutions and educational organizations that could formerly meet with the children in person and observe their activities while asking questions and having a conversation must now do things very differently. Parents and young children need a way to prepare for this new setting so they can still succeed during the admissions processes for the G&T Exam, the Thinking and Engagement Exam, or for HCES and other important educational groups.

Private School Admissions and More

In-person interviews and assessments will not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since many schools themselves are closed down to physical participation, it makes sense to use Zoom for the admissions process as well as the classes themselves. This presents a wide variety of potential issues that parents and students are not prepared for.

Admissions assessments usually take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. During the focus Zoom session, parents or guardians are not supposed to engage with the process unless directly asked the question. Instead, it is up to the preschool-aged child to communicate and interact with the stranger on their screen. Understandably, things like distraction and anxiety may affect the overall results. These are particularly troublesome with students who have attention-deficit hyperactivity dysfunctions, autistic spectrum traits, learning disabilities, and other developmental or behavioral diagnoses.

The Gifted and Talented NYC Program

Starting as early as kindergarten, the Gifted and Talented Program identifies exceptional students who are eligible to enter special academic programs focused on rapid advancement. Although these were done in-person in years past, they are now given solely online. Applications for the G & T program may also include Zoom meetings or assessments for this school year.

It makes sense to maximize the chance of your young son's or daughter's success by practicing how to participate in Zoom and other virtual communication platforms. Doing so before the testing schedule commences is similar to studying for a test when you want a good grade. Getting into the Gifted and Talented Program in NYC opens up opportunities for additional schools and enrichment opportunities not afforded to every student.

HCES (Hunter College Elementary)

Although there are many elite elementary schools in New York City, the Hunter College Elementary School represents one of the longest-lived and prestigious options around. The combination of a robust core curriculum and specific enrichment opportunities help guide even the youngest student to academic and personal success throughout their lives. This and other private schools have transformed the way they welcome admissions and assess students for inclusion. Even though HCES is not affiliated with the NYC Department of Education, they may use the agreed-upon Zoom educational platform in their student selection and assessment process.

Private School Thinking and Engagement Assessment

To minimize the need for multiple private school admissions applications and interviews for the coming school year, the NYC Independent School Admission Directors have developed what they call the Thinking and Engagement Assessment. This specially designed process was created specifically for Zoom. It allows children who are entering kindergarten for the 2020-2021 academic year to take only one assessment, whose results are then sent to each desired school, instead of taking separate exams for every single application they want to submit.

Through a unique assessment that judges both verbal and non-verbal skills, critical thinking, and childhood development, the qualified assessors come up with a determination of your child's preparation for school and ability. The goal for this $250 assessment is a more streamlined process for multi-school applications.

The T & E Assessment takes 45 minutes to complete in most cases. This is a long time for such a young child to sit in front of a screen and to engage with a childhood education expert on the other side. This makes practice and the option for professional Zoom tutoring a great choice.

Zoom Use Helps With Focused Tutoring

You want to give your young children the best opportunity to attend high-quality public and private schools in New York and to earn admission into the Gifted and Talented NYC programs and more. Through practicing with Zoom, engaging with the process as an informed parent, and getting tips from articles like this, investing in the future by hiring an Admissions Consultant through Bright Kids makes the process simpler.

Even the youngest students or preschool-aged children can benefit from careful and dedicated guidance to improve Zoom comfort and use. Help your children make the best impression and let their brilliance shine through over the virtual connections that NYC Department of Education and private institutions require in these challenging times.

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