About Mal Starting School

Looking for a school for Mal was a tedious process. It took us close to a month to find a school for him. Out of the 5 schools we visited, and a few more we called which have no vacancy, we chose this one which is about 15 minutes drive from our house. Considering the course that I will be taking is going to be from 9 to 12 everyday, we need to put Mal in a half day childcare instead of a preschool .

In Singapore, a 3 year old can either attend a childcare or a preschool. A preschool is normally a 3 hours program, twice or 3 times a week. For childcare, they have half or full day and it starts as early as 7 am and ends around 1 pm for half day and 5 pm for full day. We decided to put Mal in a childcare for obvious reason.

Each morning, I will send Mal to school at around 9.30 am, just in time for the 1st lesson of the day and pick him up at around 1.30 pm. Each day, he will spend around 4 hours in school, which to me is pretty long, considering that he has never attended any formal school. The daily program includes a 1/2 hour breakfast at 9 am, which I skipped cos I thought it will be good to have breakfast with him in the morning at home, 1/2 hour shower, which I also skipped, as I don’t think I am ready to have a stranger bath my little boy. Maybe they will teach them how to bath by themselves, but the thought of having left over soap residue, partially shampooed hair make me decide to tell the teacher that she could skip the shower for the time being. I would have skipped the 1/2 hour lunch if not for the lesson after that.

The principal, a Malay lady who seemed like a fantastic teacher and a passionate nurturer, showed us around the school. They have a big and spacious hall area with full length mirrors. I love this area and could almost imagine the kids running around, skipping and zooming around with wide open arms like birds soaring in the sky. I love the space. They have a shared restroom for both boys and girls, with mini potty and sink and towel area low enough for the kids to wash and dry their hands.

I was particularly distracted by the colorful decorated classroom. Everywhere I looked… colourful charts and artworks were splashed on every inch of wall, containers of crayons, pencils, markers, glue, craft bits, puzzle boxes, toy boxes, a shelfl of paper plates painted craft, hand made lanterns of different shapes and design, teeny tiny chairs, miniature tables – it was all so deliciously youthful, but I felt my heart sank with heaviness knowing that my little boy will do all this cool stuff, and I won’t be there to see it.

It is tough. I am excited for Mal for this new phase of his life. Yet deep down, a part of me is utterly terrified of all the negative new experiences and influences he’ll face without me. Dealing with peculiar social norms, friendships, disappointments, loneliness, rejection, embarrassment, bullying, fighting. Every day when I fetched him from school, I asked about what he did in school, whether he speaks up in class, whether he learn anything new, whether he find out more of his friends’ names, whether he tried any new food for lunch or finish his bottle of water. I just hope he will tell me everything. Knowing that he actually pee on his own during his first day of school made me so happy and proud yet heartbroken as my little boy has grown up.

These few days of school has been emotional for me. I was happy yet heartbroken, knowing that my little boy has to grow. He is able to do things without ME around. I guess I just have to learn to let go, have a bit of faith and remember that life is full of good things to learn and experience, esp for a 3 year old.

p/s: when I picked Mal up from school on the 2nd day, he was eager to tell me that he had carrot for lunch. Mal never like and refuse to take carrot. When I asked him why this time round he ate the carrot, he turn to me gleefully and said ‘So that I can grow up to be a pilot!’
what we taught him at home and what he learned in school, does work hand in hand.

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