Some people might think I am a fussypot, but my criteria for selecting a daycare for Ethan is really very simple: he has to enjoy himself there. I believe that a kid his age should not be made to do homework, or forced to study, instead all I am looking for is for him to mingle with his peers and have a good time. Only then will he be able to learn in a conducive environment.
So upon our return from the States, we visited some centers and schools in Penang to see which one is suitable. One was too far away, although I actually like the teaching methodology they employed, allowing the kids to learn through play. But a 45-minute drive there and another 45-minute drive back home every day was definitely not acceptable. One center which was nearer to our home gave me the impression that the kids were being forced to read. And another one which was just down the road from our place, I didn’t like it because the principal did not teach the students. Instead it was a daycare franchise. Some of the centers did not have openings available, so we didn’t bother checking them out.
In the end, we enrolled Ethan in a center/school for half a day, for something called a Playgroup (for his age). It would take me about 10-15 minutes to drive there though, which was rather acceptable. The good thing about this school is that they allowed a 2-week orientation period, whereby the parent would accompany the child for 2 hours and then slowly extend the period till he was confident enough to be on his own. I knew that Ethan would be fine on his own for just half a day, but it was the getting used to the new environment, making new friends and all that would maybe be too overwhelming at first.
Before he started school, we prepped him for it by telling him every day, “We’re gonna put Hannah at Ah Poh’s house, okay? Then we’ll leave Daddy in the office, and then we’ll fetch Ethan to school. After that Mommy will go to the market.”
So when we ask him, “Where will Hannah go?” , he’ll say, “Ah Poh’s house!”
And “What about Daddy?” – “Daddy goes to office!”
“And Ethan?” – “Ethan goes to school!”
“Mommy?” – “Mommy goes to market!”
So even though it was only 2 weeks before the one-week school holidays were to start, we started Ethan off on his 2-week orientation. I thought we were good to go with the prepping, but I was so wrong! The first few days, he clung on to me like a leech. He didn’t really want to participate in the activities, preferring instead to sit on my lap or asking me to carry him. On the way to school, he would whine and complain, “I don’t want to go to school, Mommy!!”
But little by little he began to participate and join the other kids. On the 5th day when I took him to school, I asked him if it was okay that he played with his friends in school, while Mommy goes to market and that I would come and fetch him later…he said “Okay.” 🙂
And then the following week, we slowly extended the duration he was in school. First he was on his own for 2.5 hours, then 3. Here are some pictures of Ethan, taken by one of his teachers during the recent Merdeka Day celebration the school had (dunno why Ethan had that serious worried look on his face…)
Nowadays, most of the time, he would happily go to school, and he would be all smiles when I pick him up afterward. Occasionally he would not want to go and would not want me to leave, but I suppose it could be because of the long weekend or holiday.
Just last Monday, he didn’t want me to leave when the teacher greeted him at the door. After a few minutes of persuasion, I realized he was asking me to KNOCK the door first before he could enter! LOL So I knocked the door, the teacher opened it, and he entered the classroom happily…hehehe
One of his teachers commented that Ethan is now more settled and can play with his classmates. She even said that he can speak really well, which left me beaming with pride. When he comes home, he would tell us about his school friends: Annabelle, Nicole, Sharmay … how come all girls huh? 😛
I’m glad I am able to play a major part in this milestone Ethan is experiencing. Never mind the initial screaming, occassional whinings and sometimes tear-filled eyes when I take him to school…all that disappears as soon as I see his face light up when he sees me waiting to pick him up after school. And it makes it all SO worth the while. Sometimes when I leave him feeling sad and unhappy at school, I worry about how he’s doing, but he puts all my worries to rest when he tells me after school, “School’s so very fun, Mommy!” And that’s all I need to know.
So our weekday routine is more or less established now, except sometimes he wakes up quite late. On the way home from school, he will ALWAYS request to go to “O McDonald”, where he wants either “Vanilla ice cream” or “Fries”. Maybe we should be given a frequent diner card at Mc-D’s!