And so the hunt is not over…

Have blogged before about my adventures when I was hunting for a suitable pre-school for my little girls and I must say the search was not easy. When I found LSM, I was simply elated. It is a Montessori school and for the past 2 years, Big K has been attending school there and loves the place to bits. It is such a great match with her personality. Lotsa focus on play and exploration. We are certainly impressed with how confident she has become. Her command of English Language is pretty impressive, in our opinion, thanks to the school.

A little background on Big K and why we feel that a good match of school is important for her.

We have always thought that she is a little different than her peers. Her PD had done a little observation about her and asked us to read up on SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder. I did a little read up and decided that she is mild. Hence, we will let her grow out of it which will usually happen when the child is 4-6 years old. Big K’s has a huge issue on attention. She is not suffering from ADHD. She just has very short attention span and not-so-great eye contact. Once she gets bored with a lesson or an activity, she will not participate. As a result, to gain her attention, her senses must be constantly engaged. Hence, a usual big class size will not work on her. That’s why the pd suggested a montessori pre-school and in her own words, ‘she is going to suffer in a Singapore primary school’ — says a lot about our education, huh?

So, having that little background of Big K in mind, one can imagine how happy I felt when I found LSM. Currently in N2, she is in a class that has a size of 13 children with 2 main teachers plus 1 Chinese teacher. She loves her school very much and constantly shares with us what she learns in school. Little K is also enrolled in LSM for its playgroup programme and striving very well. She can speak very well and is a very confident child and she is one girl who made us proud – no tear since day one of school. I have always felt that if my children love going to school, that school is a good pre-school for them.

I guess in Singapore, higher school fees probably means better school. With the price tag we pay at LSM, many feel that I should send them to a child care centre instead of a 3-hour kindergarten programme. My stance has always been clear, since I am working flexibly, I don’t see the need for child care schools. Yes, i know that I can take them out at half day. But being born a Singaporean, I probably will have this mindset that if I do so, they might miss out what is taught in school. Lastly, I have always felt that teachers who got to clean, feed, bath, change kids, would be too tired to teach, shift work or not.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, this hefty monthly price tag of about $920 for big K and $800 for little K is really weighing down on us. It doesn’t help that I am still at teething stage of business whereby whatever i earn goes back to the business and the Mr is holding a job that pays stably but not exponentially with the amount of work he is doing. Not sure if anyone could understand the lousiness I am feeling at this very moment — the sucky feeling that I have to pull my children out of their beloved school because of school fees.

This is the very reason why I often speak passionately about pre-school education. I know many would have criticised that I shouldn’t have chosen a school that is out of my means (actually it is not….it just means more sacrifices for us i.e. less shopping, less/no holidays etc). But no one know my children better than we do. All we want is a school that appreciate them as a child who has that inborn curiosity to learn and explore. Of course, I have my concerns about Big K adapting to Primary school come 2016. But I agree with P of LSM that once she builds that confidence, she will survive. However, now we have come to a point that we might have to throw Big K into that big pool a little earlier than expected.

One have no idea how much I hope that ONE DAY the government will decide to offer that $350 CC subsidy for working mums to those who decide to send their children to kindergarten so that I won’t have to put her through the change. This is something I hope for at every PM National Day rally and annual Budget. I do not understand why people like us who are working and decide to take a different path because we know our kids are always forgotten.

I am very very concerned  on how the change will affect big k’s newly built confidence and self-esteem. I am very afraid that she will get lost and drown in the new school. When we told her about the possible change to the new school which she had visited with me, she simply said, ‘But the school is too big for me.’ She gets very down when I sounded her on the possibility of saying good bye to LSM and her friends. She loves her teachers very very much and speaks very fondly of them almost every day. I know her teachers love her too and that’s why when I told the school about the possible change, they really tried to do everything they can to help.

Sigh……this is really getting me very very down despite the fact that the new school is not shabby at all. It’s extremely well-organized. Very focused on values and discipline (imagine a Japanese school model). It’s like a smaller scale primary school with different levels in its very own building. I guess academically wise, LSM will still be better but the part on culture and heritage LSM is lacking a lot. I guess I am just not too convinced how my freedom-embracing and non-comforming (just-about-to-turn 4 YO) big K is going to take to disciplines and strict routine…like a primary school.

Hubby says we should just let her go through the whole mainstream thinghy asap. My mum says the same. Yet, I want to say otherwise. D*** I really hate Singapore’s education system. Why can’t it be more forgiving to our children, especially those who are a little more different?

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