Kickstart 2014 with a Milestone

I took a brief hiatus from blogging last quarter and am delighted to be back. The beginning of 2014 marked a jumbo milestone for our little boy. He is now school-going and looking all so grown up with his curly locks tucked behind in historical photo logs. I was in a 2-month struggle to make many major decisions and one of which was to have my 19-monther enrolled in a pre-school. That was the last thing I’d ever wanted for my child at this age. It is a personal choice since my designation reads SAHM and being his mum/teacher was my preferred course of action. As I went for site visits from schools to schools, none fit the bill until Lorna Whiston.
I preferred a school with classrooms unaccompanied by whiteboards, a computer lab, flash-carding techniques and anything studious. It is unconceivable that some schools are introducing intense curriculums to playgroup classes, which I thought was absolutely unnecessary. If anything, I would prefer to be the one guiding him through his ABCs and 123s. I actually relish in his success under my reign. If not for circumstances, I would have his first 4 years, learning and socialising with his peers in a different manner. No offense but I have the time because I stay home.

I hear people telling me that BabyTV is God-sent! Little boys and girls learn about trucks and ribbons from TV; and their counting skills were honed from songs projecting out from that babysitter. It is so educational! Again, I have my preference. I’d like to be the one singing ABC over and over like a spoilt recorder so Ewan remembers them and I’d really like him to learn about trucks and ribbons from picture books. “But, Books Don’t Move! TV has Motion!” Well, then I’d like him see a truck on the road making such a loud vrooming sound that we have to cover our ears or a balloon flying away from his little hands to the heavens above. (Okay I’m not crazily paranoid over him and TV. He has started watching Hi5.)

That’s how we ended up with Lorna Whiston.

He will have daily outdoor activities where he gets the opportunity to learn from play. The campus sits on colonial grounds at Winchester Road and boasts a water play area, sand pit, huge playground, vehicle track, ball time and even a resident rabbit who roams freely in school. Best of all, its playgroup classroom has no whiteboard! They learn through songs, art & craft, games and books. Just the way I like it. Most importantly, I preferred a shoeless environment in classrooms. Imagine toddlers who knows nothing about hygiene. If yours is like mine who sometimes attempt a full body leopard crawl or lick the floor trying to pick up some breadcrumbs, you’d probably flip if the floor was stepped a hundred times by dirty shoes.

Now, let me show you around Ewan’s school.

Art & Craft

Water Play

Playground
The Resident Bunny
Sandpit with an Umbrella on Sunny days

After our site visit on 26th December 2013, we mutually agreed that this is the place to be. The space and well-maintained grounds won us over and seeing friendly toddlers jumping to the beat in the classroom with very energetic teachers, set us at ease that it is going to be lots of fun for Ewan. We have seen 5 other schools (4 of which were pricier than Lorna Whiston) and they left us with so much doubt about the quality of early childhood educators from lethargic-looking children. It tells a lot about the teachers doesn’t it? Also, first impression counts. Joanna, the school’s secretary, brought us around the grounds and showed much life and passion for her work. Her kindness towards Ewan was beyond expectations. We must count our lucky stars that we managed to have Ewan enrolled for January 2014’s intake.

How do you button?

I think I’ll like school

They welcomed parents to join in the fun for the first three days of school. I stayed with Ewan the whole time on Day 1, one-quart of the time on Day 2 and total drop-off on Day 3. After the first two days, I felt like this initiative was designed to ease the parents’ anxiety more than the toddlers. I was one worried mother.

Day 1 was perfect because I was there. It was just like another parent-accompanied programme I attended with him the past year. He would run away from me and play happily with the other children, catching my presence from the corner of his eyes and continued with his day. He ate heartily, joined in during circle time and had the greatest time at the playground. I like it that there will always be a third teacher that comes along as an extra aid to Teacher Melissa and 刘老师 during outdoor play, meal times and tough times (aka crying times) in the classroom. They manage the transition very well. The ratio now is 1:4 and when the third teacher comes in to help, that would definitely give each crying child the attention they would need.

The cleanliness of the classroom is also not compromised. The PG class leaves their classroom twice in 6 hours (half-day) and each time they are out, the classroom will be cleaned. The air-condition will be switched off and windows opened awaiting for sweaty children to come back into. I appreciate the thoughtfulness from the schools’ point of view. When our children have too much to play in the heat, coming back to a cold environment is not going to help with their state of health.

Climb
Cooking in Progress

Eating

Day 2 and I wondered if I made the right decision sending him to school when he wailed so badly as I said goodbye. I stalked him from outside the classroom and saw him against the glass door, awaiting my arrival. That was such a painful sight. Ewan had always been independent. He will leave the house with almost everyone who brings him out to play or even say goodbye to us if he was at his grandparents’. He even left Meyer and I behind in Singapore for a trip to Koh Samui with grandpa without kicking a fuss. In fact, I think he wished he had never return. There was never an issue with separation anxiety so I was taken aback by his exaggerated reaction. Just then, my dad called.

“How’s Ewan?, he asked.

“He cried badly when I told him I was going to step out for a while”

“Oh that’s Great! I was beginning to think he didn’t need his mummy!”, my dad added non-jokingly.

Then I realised, he was comfortable to be left behind with people he know but not strangers. How very normal. I shouldn’t be overly concerned.

Spot him?

I left him for a total of 3 hours before I came back to give him a warm welcome. I was expecting him to run into my arms and scream MUMMY! What I got was epic… He walked right past me, took his shoes, sat down and said, “Wear Shoes”. He left me totally flabbergasted! I missed him so much the 3 hours I was away and he said, “Wear Shoes”? Wooooo-kay!!

Day 3, we dropped him off and I left the school grounds totally. I didn’t linger around or stalk him with my faithful iPhone. He cried a little but was easily distracted with breakfast. Food works for him anytime. When he was picked up that day, teachers shared that he cried a little now and then. I don’t think he cried just a little though cause he’s really a CRYer! But I’m glad he came out to us happy and not crying for help.

Come On! There’s your classroom!
Mummy saying goodbye

Day 4, Meyer messaged me that Ewan actually said goodbye to him (before he said his goodbyes) and walked into the classroom on his own! I was so relieved to get that message.

Then Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 came and he cannot stop crying when daddy left him. Not even breakfast could save his tears. What’s the difference between Day 4 and the rest of the days? What’s making him so upset that he wouldn’t step into the classroom but happy to stay outside with Mr Bunny? The difference was, he arrived to a classroom of crying children on the last 3 days. The atmosphere was negative and he didn’t like it but the teachers managed and did a great job distracting the crying tods. There were happy pictures taken in class and we could witness interaction and play time during schooling hours. As usual, he’s always happy when he’s picked up. Not the yearning to leave school kind of happy but just plain happy. It is also assuring to hear him say YES whenever we asked if he wanted to go to school.

Every Friday, we get a newsletter update on what the children had done in school. Songs they sang, games they played and books they read so what we can reinforce them on our own at home too. We will also be advised the expected theme for the following week to help prepare the children for it. It’s “My Family” week and our ‘homework’ is to introduce or re-introduce our family tree.

For now, I just wish Ewan doesn’t wake up at 6:30am every day! He isn’t needed to be awake until 7am or even 7:15am on school days and definitely not before 8am on weekends! Yet, he got us all up on a Saturday morning at 6:30am… yawns… Sleep in late into Sunday my dear child. Weekends are Let’s Be Lazy days.

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