Today is Svadhi’a first day at the pre-school. She has been asking about school for quite some time now. Although my first intention was to home-school her, I realized I have to respect her wish. I have to allow her to try different things before she could decide what she wants. Ultimately I realized it’s her choice. For a 3 1/2 year old, she was very observant, astute and knows exactly what she wants. Most of the times I respect her decision if it’s within the reasonable boundaries.
She doesn’t know what a school is. She has never been to one. So as per her request, I decided to let her try school. If she likes it, good for her. If not that’s fine too. At least I respected her request and decided to let her experiment.
Svadhi and I went around scouting for kindergarten somewhere close to where we live. Based on my gut feeling we finally opted for Tabika Perpaduan, a government-run kindergarten. Why I decided on this one as compared to the other 2 private kindies:
- Svadhi is the only Indian girl in a class of all Malay children.
Realizing that eventually we will opt for homeschooling, I saw that as an opportunity for her to learn Bahasa Melayu. Her command in English is pretty strong and this will be a perfect avenue for her to pick up an extra language.
- The Kindie is run by two lovely teachers. I liked them the moment I met them.
- The teachers are not strict. 4 year-olds are combined in a class of 5 and 6 year-olds. The 4 year-olds are allowed to move about and do free play if they get bored. This was what I was looking for. I wanted Svadhi to merely experience free play and interact freely with other children without the pressure of studies. I wasn’t looking for a school where she could learn to read and write. I know she will pick that up by herself eventually. I want her to enjoy her childhood. And this kindergarten provided just that.
- Food is served twice. Once at 8 am with a light breakfast consisting mainly of cereals and milk and the other at 10 am with a more heavy breakfast. This means the kids have adequate breaks.
- The class is small. Kids get individual attention.
What surprised me most was that she went to school without making any fuss. No separation anxiety, no tears, no apprehension whatsoever. The teacher informed me that she was asking many questions. The teacher was amazed at her level of maturity and her linguistic capabilities. I was astounded by how fast she picked up some Malay words just after a few days at the kindergarten.
I believe there’s no such thing as a perfect school, including the international ones. I believe in going for what works for the family as a whole. And I believe in relying on parental instincts and deciding based on what’s best for the kid’s childhood years -which is meant to be enjoyed. As for me, the environment of the school, not only the academic standards counts a lot. I believe in the energy of the environment contributing to the development of the child. This school provides just that – allowing the children to be comfortable in their own skin and explore their environment without undue restraint. No coercion, no threats. Just letting them to be themselves. This school supports the value system I want my child to grow up with.
Note: As it turned out, she only went to the kindergarten for one week. After that, she figured out what a school is (her curiosity about schools is satiated) and decided that she had had enough of it. Even after much cajoling, she was adamant that she doesn’t want to go to school anymore. I let it be. It was her choice to try school after all.