Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why We (Finally) Send Our Two Year Old to School

When we had Michael, his father and I thought that we won't be the kind of parents who sends off their children to kindergarten when they can barely walk, or boast about their two year old who can write alphabet already. Well, we still are NOT that kind of parents, but we DO send our two and a half year old son to pre-kindergarten school.

Even though both me and Hubby work outside the home, Michael gets plenty of time with both his parents. Hubby plays with him in the morning since both boys are morning person who are up and about at five in the morning. I often drop home from work during lunch time to check on him and take him for a nap before going back to the office. I usually arrive home around 17.30 in the evening so I still have many hours to feed him, listen to him, play with him, talk to him, and wait for his father, who is usually home around 18.30.

Weekends are also family affairs. Hubby and I try to schedule our date dinners or lunch around Michael's nap or bed time so we can spend as much as time as possible together as a family. We also take Michael to Church to attend Holy Mass (read the post here) and I already taught him to pray before bedtime and mealtimes; and introducing him to my daily Bible reading.

So I thought, "What could they possibly teach in kindergarten that Michael cannot learn at home with his parents?" The answer: the interaction with other children.

As Michael is getting older, we realized one thing that we never put into consideration before: Michael doesn't interact much with children his own age. He only knows adults. Loving adults like his parents, grandparents, his childminder, our local helpers, aunts and uncles, who cuddle him, praise him, spoil him, bring him gifts, and let him get away with practically anything. Well, not his parents, we are quite discipline with Michael, but we cannot force other adults to be strict with our child, especially his grandparents.

Michael does play with other children sometimes. Children from the neighborhood whom he sometimes meet during morning walk or when he plays in the park, but that's it. And five-minute interaction is not really an interaction.

As he is growing older and smarter, we finally decided to send him to a pre-nursery program at a kindergarten school within walking distance from our home. Hubby and I know that many of our friends rack their brain looking for the "best" kindergarten for their child. They do lots and lots of trials, they research over the internet, parent discussion forms, asking a lot of questions about the teaching methods, etc.

Well, we are not that complicated. Our consideration in choosing Q-Kiddies - the kindergarten in our neighborhood - is quite simple:

It's within walking distance from home.
The place is clean and mosquito-free.
The teachers are patients with children.
Limited number of children per teacher.
The classmates are from "good" families. (If it sound incriminating, I bet all parents know what I mean.)
A lot of play as well as educational activities, no homework. (He is still two year old, he doesn't have to be able to read and write now!)
Last but not least, Michael likes the school and is willing to commit attending the class.

Plus point of Q-Kiddies, they teaches in English, so Michael will learn a second language in addition to Indonesian language. AND, the tuition, though not cheap, is not astronomical, either. And I am relieved to witness that the teacher washed the children's hands with hand sanitizer before coming in to class, and refused admittance of a child who is clearly very ill, coughing and sneezing. THAT is very important!

I wrote that we took Michael to visit the school one Saturday (read the post here). At the end of my recovery time, I brought him up again for class trial. Michael doesn't often wander outside, so he was quite shy at first. Thankfully, the teachers let me sit at the back of the class so he can see me. Several times, he will leave other children to sit on my lap, and gladly, the teachers just let him, until he feels ready to stand up on his own and rejoined his friends without anyone asked him to. His teachers didn't force him to come up or leave Mommy, they just keep including him in all activities, though other children sit with the teacher and Michael sits on Mommy's lap!  

 Michael has building blocks at home, but this time, he has to share with other children. ^__^

After a while, Michael was willing to sit near his teacher, or "Auntie", and let her help her with building blocks. The school limits the number of students to ten children maximum per class, that ensures the two teachers can pay sufficient attention to each child. It's like a family-style homeschool, which I really like, instead of over-commercialized schools.

He learns to sit still with other children and talk to friends.

He learns to show respect to others by keep quiet when the teacher is talking. We do teach that at home, but never with other children, since he is our first child.

He learns to write simple letters and hold pencil the correct way. He also learns this at home, but it's a completely different experience doing it with eight other children and compare his "writing" with others!

After an hour, the children go to the play room and have some fun! Again, I'm a strong believer that children need to be active physically, not just being cooped up in the classroom for hours!

He learns to wait for his turn. Something that will serve him right in life.

He learns that the world is much bigger than he's ever seen before.

We believe it's very important to - at some level - include Michael in making any big decision that will affect his life. So, after the initial class trial,
I asked him, "So, how was it? Do you like going to school?"
He said, "Yes, Mommy."
"Do you want to continue going to this school? If yes, then Mommy will pay for your tuition."
So I paid for registration fee, administration fee, and the first month tuition. Actually, parents should pay for a minimum of three-month period. However, I told the school that I would like to try for the first month first, just in case. Fortunately, they are quite flexible with my request.

So, my two-and-a-half year old goes to school twice a week now, for one and a half hour each session. He has attended two birthday parties, which is quite new to him, and he learned to bring - and give - presents to the birthday boy/girl. He likes the goodie bag he received, he likes learning drawing and writing, and he likes play time. Oddly enough, he refused to join his friends for singing and dancing, when in fact, at home he likes singing and dancing! I dropped him off to school in the morning, and he will walk home with his childminder at the end of class. When I got home from work in the evening, he will show me the class project he finished that day.

After the second class, he suddenly refused to go to school anymore! I gently asked him why, and he said "The Auntie is bad." His childminder explained that there was another teacher who wouldn't allow the childminder wait inside the classroom. Michael strictly refuse to cooperative until they let the childminder in. I know how strongwilled Michael can be - like his Mommy and Daddy, afterall - so on the third session I accompanied him to school and explained to the teacher that Michael is still new and perhaps the school will allow the childminder to join in - just sitting at the back of the class so she won't interrupt school activities - until Michael feels comfortable enough to come inside the classroom by himself? The teacher agreed.

Then I talked to my child.
"Do you want to come inside the classroom on your own today?"
"Do you want Nanny to come with you?"
"Then Nanny can come, but she has to sit at the back, OK? And promise Mommy you will behave during class. Yes?"
"Promise Mommy that you will learn to come inside the classroom by yourself after a while, OK?"
"Yes, Mommy."

So far, so good. The "bad Auntie" was extra nice to him that day and Michael is now happily goes to school again. I'm so thankful that the teachers at the school understand child psychology and are very patient. If not, school will be a traumatic experience for Michael, and we don't want that!

My baby is not a baby anymore. This is the first step toward the outside world for him. But even if I cannot always tag along with him for the rest of his life, Mommy's prayer will go with him wherever he goes. ^__^

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Stacey said...

My son goes to daycare because I work, but if I were to quit working I would need to find play dates for him because I really think he needs that social aspect. My son is also 2.5 and is so shy.

Hazel Moon said...

I loved your story of Michael attending pre-kindergarten and that they teach in English. It is good for children to be with children their own age and you have chosen wisely. Also your approach to gently help him in the decision process is good. He is growing up quickly. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

Hazel Moon said...

Glad you are feeling better too!

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