It took us a day to drive around the neighbourhood hunting for a school for Malcolm.
We checked out the government schools, those we used to attend when we were little but there wasn’t any vacancy. Malcolm will be joining the K1 class which is already half way through the academic year.
We visited a Montessori childcare in a private house. The teacher was nice and friendly. The kids were happy and I liked what I heard from the teacher, that they believe in letting the kids develop and learn at their own pace. The place was a bit cramped and for places without the air condition, we felt that the air was abit still and stuffy. The biggest consideration for us was the exhorbitant school fees. It costs $650 per month to put Malcolm there and we are talking about more than $500 difference if you compare that to a governent kindergarten.
My experience with branded preschool started when Mal was 3 1/2 years old when we started him on a 1/2 day school in Singapore. I must say that I wasn’t very impressed with the school. In fact, through the years, I have developed a distaste for early childhood educators and businesses targeting at insecure parents who believe in giving their children a head start in their school years. I am a skeptic and I WAS, and perhaps, still AM, an insecure parent who is finding my way to parent my child, the way that I think will best prepare him for this world.
So we visited a 3rd school. We couldn’t visit the classrooms because of the ongoing H1N1 virus. The monthly fee was a third of the private school and we love its proximity to our home. It was in fact a chinese school where most lessons will be conducted in Mandarin and we were relief when they told us that Malcolm could start school as soon as the next day!
Malcolm was however quite upset when he heard that he will be attending a chinese school. His experience with a French school where NOBODY speaks English wasn’t very pleasant and it had affected him quite a bit.
On the first day, he cried a little when the teacher separated him from us, to usher him to his new classroom. Due to the ongoing virus, no parents were allowed to accompany the kids to the classroom, not even if it was their 1st day of school. I was appalled by the shcool’s emphasis on hygience and cleanliness but I guess it wasn’t such a bad thing afterall. Malcolm was happy and chirpy by the time we came to pick him up.
On the second day, he had his temperature checked, his mouth and fingernails checked, planted a brief kiss on our cheeks and walked to his classroom BY HIMSELF, WITHOUT TEARS. We were so relief. Later on, when we picked him up, he told us that time passes so fast that he didn’t even realise that it was time to go home!
Today is the third day of school and he woke up happy and eager to play with his toys before heading for school. He obviously enjoys school here more than in Paris and we were glad that he could adapt so well. Maybe having exposed to the rougher kids and tougher environment in France has made him stronger.
Each time, as I watched my boy walked off to his classroom by himself, his little back, with his little backpack, reminds me of a little warrior, fully armoured, ready to take on the challenges that might come his way. With that, I am happy.