Thursday, October 15, 2009 ;
1:33 PM
School updates:

As you know, the boys are having an extended holiday. Since the break for summer hols from the school in Tianjin early June, they've been so free.

Being back to Singapore means more fun cos they get to go to many more parks, great libraries, and tons of other child-friendly venues.

At home, toys-wise, they only have some die-cast Hot Wheels cars with them, and 2 tubs of Lego. I promised them I'd get them the tubs here after we gave theirs away in Tianjin (no space to bring them back). Those are really quite enough! They've been playing with those since we returned and have not tired of them yet. I love Lego because of the infinite possibilities. (Of course, they play with Lego very differently. I used to build towns and houses and nice paths for my cars and people to travel in.

They build monsters and spaceships, transformers, vehicles and so on. And they love to build painstakingly and then destroy everything within seconds by making the vehicles or characters fight violently with each other. I do not understand this at all. I used to forbid my mom or sis to touch my entire Lego towns for weeks so I could admire my creations and play with them everyday, making up different stories each day.

Not my sons, it seems to make perfect sense to build something for 30min and then happily destroy it in seconds. Sometimes, they do end up fighting with each other, shouting and screaming, when one party destroys the other's creations before he is ready to. Sigh. But mostly they do love "fighting" with each other most of the time.

I realise with all my chores and the new baby coming, that it may not be so easy to homeschool them properly next year. And even now, I make feeble attempts to teach them some Chinese each day, and it is tough to take that time out because of all the stuff I've to handle right now.

So, ds1's school has been settled. We successfully transferred him out of the school he was registered in. This is the school below. It's a very good school, with great teachers and programmes and facilities, with parents jostling to get their kids in, each year. They always have balloting because of the sheer numbers. We got a place without needing to do volunteer work, and without stress because it is Dh's alma mater.

Unfortunately, we have to give the place up, because of the distance. In China or the USA, this distance would not seem far. But in tiny Singapore, and with the traffic jams notorious at that stretch of road near this popular school, we decided not to risk it. Ds1 might be tired everyday. We don't intend to get a car yet, so he will take the school bus. If he took the school bus, he would be the 1st to get on the bus each day, and the last to alight. I think that is very miserable for a 6-7 year old.

Why do I have this pic? We had to go to the school to do the transfer and the school admin was so shocked, they had to ask us and confirm repeatedly that we are transferring OUT and not wanting to transfer IN. They told us it was their very first case in their history, so they were not sure of the procedures so we had to wait while they sorted things out.

We looked around the school while we waited and saw kids playing the piano beautifully. They had pianos around the school for kids to tinker on. They obviously have a strong music program too.

Well, in life, we always have choices and it doesn't mean if we give this up, we'll end up worse. We just try and make use of whatever we have and have the best and happiest times possible.

The plus points of the nearby neighborhood school we are signing ds1 up for? It's a smaller school, and we like small schools. The teachers know the kids very well. I know 2 teachers there, one of them a church friend who is the kids' godpa's sister, and the one was my mentor when I was still a young trainee teacher in NIE years ago. She is a very good and experienced teacher who is currently a HOD (head of dept) in the school.

We met with the principal and had a relatively long talk with her. We talked to her about her visions for the school, her intentions for the CCA and enrichment programmes (after school-activities) and so on. We liked what we heard. We were also happy that this school, because it is small, has gone single-session since a long time ago and all levels starts at 8am. We're so happy with that cos I always think my kids learn better in the morning.

For the popular school, ds1 would be in the afternoon session for Pri 1 and 2, and I really don't like the afternoons. It's hot and ds1 doesn't function so well from the afternoon onwards.

Of course, it is not as rich as the popular school, so the facilities didn't look as great. And the students didn't speak as well, as we observed. But I think influence from the home would be more important than the school for the child during the primary school years? So hopefully it wouldn't affect ds1's language abilities much.

The best part we enjoyed was the friendliness and warmth the school staff exuded. At the popular school, we were nobodies. We had to go through official procedures like exchanging identity cards for passes before entering the school. Cars cannot enter the school gate. School admin staff did not smile warmly nor greet us until we asked for assistance. It's such a big school, nobody cares.

At the smaller school, the security guard warmly welcomed us, gave us the tags with a smile, and ushered us to the general office. In the office, the school staff smiled at us, and helped us through the transfer process in a friendly manner. Staff members that were not involved in the process, if they walked by, they would greet each other and smile.

When I was at the school for a separate matter with the kids, a teacher walked up to us with a big smile and asked if we knew our way around and if we needed help. I said we were fine, but she still bent down to talk to both ds. She then told me they are so so cute, that's why she walked all the way over to us to talk to them.

I know I'm being a typical mom who just likes to hear good things about my kids, but hey, doesn't this make for a pleasant experience in the school??

And ds1 has been told he would be a gem to the school several times already, by the teachers in the school. And he hasn't started schooling yet. How nice they are! I am greatly encouraged that he would blossom and have a lot of confidence and great self-esteem in this nurturing school.

I also mentioned that my boys are very free now, and that ds1 loves to play chess. So the school invited ds1 to join their chess club for fun first. I brought them along for the 1st session where the teacher-in-charge let ds1 play with his club members just to assess his level, and though ds1 lost all the 3-4 matches with the 3 different boys, the teacher said his potential, attitude (towards losing??) and passion is evident, so he encouraged us to join in the club's sessions as often as we wanted. And once ds1 starts school next year, he can officially join the club right away (usually only older kids in P3 and above take part). He said the youngest that ever joined the club was in P2.

As I was about to leave the school with both boys, the teacher even lent us a CD-Rom with chess games in it, so that both ds can play when they're at home!

I told Dh about this and we were just thinking. In a big school (or huge organisation), little fish get lost in the ocean. In a small school, every student is special. That is why the teachers go all out to help, love and care for each kid. I think we are growing to love this school even though we haven't started the school term!

As for ds2, he is facing more trouble. I enquired all around our area, and despite our area having so many preschools, kindys and childcare centers, most of them are full already for K1 2010 intake. We missed the Open House registration periods for all the schools. So I had to place him on wait lists on 2 kindys that I am interested in. I am hoping he gets into the PAP-PCF one right below our block of apartments. Yeah, I love short distances... And since it is below our flat, even if it is raining heavily, I don't even need an umbrella to take him to school! yay!

Once he gets a spot, I'll update again!

I know I'll be pretty overwhelmed on the first day of school in 2010. With ds1 wearing a primary school uniform and carrying a big backpack, and ds2 hopefully wearing the kindy uniform, they'll be looking so so grown up!!!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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