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First School Day Anxiety Strikes!

January 21, 2012 1 comment

All smiles on the bus

New school year just started this month and the most anxious would be parents of the preschool kids. Yes, it’s us.  It could be because we are first time parents, or simply because kids as young as two or three years old is much more vulnerable than any other age.  We do not want them to be hurt, physically or emotionally.  She would be the little baby we saw inside her mum’s tummy, the one we watched sleeping soundly, the one we excitedly held as she learned to walk and the one we patiently taught to speak.  While I think these kids should be enjoying the free time of this phase in their life, we had to send her anyway so she could learn to mingle with other kids and be at par with kids of her age.  I just do not think she should be be too much pressured at her age.

I was looking at my blog stats the other day and someone landed on my blog with the search that run like “not happy with playgroup”.  Well, that’s probably another nervous parent trying to find a way out of the playgroup due to the first school day anxiety. A year ago, we had less anxiety as my girl’s playgroup was just walking distance from our block.  While her first day last year did not end up with cries, Yanna took about another day or two to realize she was being left in the school with the teachers before she got those anxious “don’t leave me” plea (Flashback: January 2011).

Back in the first week this month, we felt our heart wrenched seeing Yanna ride on the school bus for the first time.  She cried like we would send her away! Aaargh. Worse is that we learned she would be the first to be picked up, the trip is going to take like an hour (because the bus had to pick up other kids of course) and the pick-up time was 1 1/2 hours before school time! Who would not be stressed by that?  It was mind boggling if my daughter would ride a bus and uneasy for more than an hour! The school bus arrangement was rather odd as we did not get the details until the first day of school.  My wife called me and was thinking of transferring her to another school. Well, I am concerned but not not in panic as she was.

We sent her to Damien Center, which was the ultimate choice we made because it was the most reasonable in terms of cost.  There was no other school nearby and besides, it was run by the same church we went and it was in the same compound.  That was sufficient trust among other things we took into consideration. We have registered and have paid all that was needed including uniform and stuff.  Now my wife wants to transfer her!

She eyed on the next school option we had which was in the walking distance of our block but was like SGD 200 (per month) more expensive.  We were close to deciding on that.  She asked the current school of our plan to transfer due to the school bus arrangement and distance which we did not realize in the beginning.  Fortunately, as I was expecting, the school offered an alternative school bus that would pick up our daughter 45 minutes from school time; would reduce her travel time to about 30+ minutes and would not be the first to be picked up which will perhaps make her feel better to see other kids on the bus.  That pacified us.  So far, she’s doing good.  I’ve seen her picked up and brought back to our block by the bus and I feel relieved.

I am sure a lot of other parents have fallen trap what I call the FSDA (First School Day Anxiety).  Well, relax. With a playgroup or preschool, there is much more flexibility and therefore making rush decisions should not be taken.  This  will definitely going to be at the expense of your child’s peace-of-mind. I am sure you have taken some thought about the school before enrolling them there so deciding to transfer impulsively is not a solution.  Take it easy. Here’s some tip to make you think clearly:

  1. If it’s not a matter of life and death, sleep on it.
  2. Talk it over with the teacher or school management.  Raise your concerns or clarify doubts. Is it about the safety of the children? Did you notice the school premises to be health hazard? Any question can pop-up and if you do not get the facts, you will be the loser.
  3. Look for alternatives regarding your issues.  In our case, as we did not like the first bus arrangement, we could have opted to just bring her to school ourselves.
  4. Outside of the current school, think what options you have.  Why think of transferring the kid to another school if there seems to be no option?  Is the option affordable? Is it favorable to you geographically? How sure are you that you would not have the same issue or other issues if you transfer your kid to another school?

Keep in mind that there is no perfect world.  I am not saying you lower your standards about concerns regarding your kids.  Just be reasonable enough. Take a balancing act.  Everything will be fine.

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Categories: Schooling

Sending Yanna to a Playgroup School

February 5, 2011 4 comments

DECISION TO SEND TO PLAYGROUP

I never imagined sending Yanna, my 2 year old daughter, to a pre-nursery thing because I did not think it was necessary- in the same way that nursery was a luxury 20 years ago.  Nursery was supposed to be a pre-school thing and now you have a pre-nursery thing- so what’s next? But I guess things have changed and so were the circumstances.  Yanna is growing up fast and I did not want her to grow up getting used to just being with her nanny all day.  There’s gotta be a way to play with some kids in the playground on a regular basis.  I wanted her to develop social skills at an early age. Hence, we toyed on the idea of finding an informal playgroup- something that moms organize in Singapore- some by locals, some by expat wives. That did not prosper as it seemed difficult to find one and organize one.  further, being an informal group- it’s unpredictable- people may come and go and you may not like eveerything that comes out of it.  Hence, better get into an organized playgroup.

FINDING THE PLAYGROUP

Looking for that organized playgroup is not easy if you don’t have the right leads.  First, playgroup is not a clearly defined classification.  By playgroup, my wife and I wanted to jus send Yanna to some place where she could play and socialize with other kids, learn some new things and managed by a professional.  We did not want a day care center.  and so we searched the Net to see what’s out there.  I checked websites Pinoysg and Singapore Expat to see what people would recommend in the communities.  what i got was the likes of franchise schools- Apple Tree and Mind Champs.  The latter does not have playgroups while the former did not have a place close by our area.  We surfed the Net and found a number such as NTUC First Campus brands (My First Skool, among others) but mostly offer day care services. Finally, we decided to walk around the neighborhood because I realized that I’ve seen quite a number and maybe we were missing something.  True enough, there were about three around the area- and we found Star Tots Playgroup most perfect for our needs: it was only a 2-hour programme where kids could play and learn at the same time.

We were two weeks late from the official school calendar but since this is just a playgroup, it was flexible.  Initially, the slots were all filled out, but one backed out so we got a slot after a week.

FIRST FEW DAYS IN SCHOOL

My wife and I were excited about it.  On her first day, we were curious to see how Yanna would take it being left in the care of the school.  Surprisingly, with her mum bringing her to the school, she just plainly said goodbye, hugged and gave her usual flying kiss.  As if she just said goodbye when mummy’s  leaving for work.  On her second day, she might have noticed what she was at.  With her nanny bringing her to school this time, she cried so hard as if her nanny was leaving her in the night before she goes to sleep!  True enough, whether it was mummy or nanny bringing her to school, she would cry the following days .  The teacher managed to stop her, but oh, I could feel what’s inside her when my wife was telling me how she would try to stop from crying – first stop from screaming but her eyes still with tears and trying to control her sob.  This scene stopped after 5 or 6 days.

LESSONS IN LIFE

Yanna started learning new things with other kids.  I guess this kind of environment makes her appreciate things in a better way where she could relate.  Things like opening your pack of snacks and eating on her own, washing her hands, throwing rubbish at the waste can- when she starts seeing it in her little world with little people, she is more keen and excited to learn.

FIRST WORK OF ART

One day, the class did some artwork where they printed some fruit into a piece of paper. Yanna was so excited about it that she did not keep it in her bag.  She met her mum with her artpiece on her hands and walked home still holding it with her! How beautiful it is to see how my little girl got so excited and engrossed with this little work of art!

Yanna walking home holding her piece of art

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