Abacus4It’s not so easy to describe a four year old.  I know–I’ve helped families write private school essays about four year olds, hundreds of them, for so many years that some of those four year olds are now in high school.

Private school essays typically ask something along the lines of, “Tell me about your child.”

Typically the parent of a preschooler is sure of the following:  Junior is cute.  He’s curious.  He’s bright.  He loves books.  He liked his music class last year.  He’s very sweet to his sister.  Hmm.

That sounds reasonable.  Junior is four, after all.

But this is a private school essay.  You’re trying to get your child into school, to somehow make him stand out from the rest of the pack of kindergarten applicants.

That’s where things get tricky.  How can you make Junior seem special?

Asking this question in this application context, admissions directors lead parents down a primrose path.  Some parents go flying down, making such wild assertions about their child’s uniqueness and superiority as to turn off anybody who reads their statement.

“When asked to describe Milo, we would say first that he is gifted.”

“Jessica, who is already reading at the fourth grade level…”

“Frank, recently dubbed “The Mayor” by his teachers and classmates at Tot Time, is greatly admired for his precocious leadership skills.”

So rule #1 in writing your parent statement:  Keep It Real, and resist the temptation to describe your child in over-the-top language.  You need to be modest, and show through example, rather than tell, about your child’s qualifications. That way, on their own, admissions directors will draw the conclusion that oh yes, Junior seems very bright and worthy of admission.

As one of the longest practicing private school admissions consultants in NYC, I have considerable perspective about what makes parents and children unique in a way that attracts admissions directors.  Jan 2012 Update: I am currently accepting clients who will be applying in 2012 for 2013 admission.  To learn more or call 212-712-2228 9am-9pm EST.  Please book early because prime slots in late spring go quickly and every year I have to turn parents away.

For more:

The Three Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Write Private School Admissions Essays