This entry has taken two weeks to prepare because this year, both my children have started new school journeys in new schools. For Phoebie, she is now in primary one and for Breyen, he has officially started at Phoebie’s old kindergarten in Pre-Nursery.
Thankfully, Phoebie and Breyen started in different weeks, so husBenKoh and I had time to help one child at a time.
Phoebie started her new journey first and it was one that required major adjustments. For one, Phoebie has never been a child who liked to wake up early, and from this year onwards, she has to attend the morning session. For another, she now has to learn to buy food on her own and learn the value of money.
HusBenKoh and I tried our best to prepare Phoebie mentally for her first day, but of course, no preparation compares to facing the challenges herself.
Four days before the new school year started, the school organised its orientation programme for both new students and parents. We all got to tour the school, meet the form Teachers and Phoebie’s new classmates. Most importantly, we got to hear from the school Principal and Vice Principal about school values and policies.
Particularly, two things that the vice principal mentioned stuck with me.
“If your child has forgotten to bring something to school, don’t rush to bring it to him or her. Your child will have to learn to be responsible for his or her own things,” said the vice principal. Wow. I like this vice principal already.
“If you need to contact our teachers, you can either email them or send them a message through the app our school uses. However, please understand that our teachers also have their families to attend to. If they do not reply you as quickly as you wish, please understand that they will get back to you as soon as they can,” said the vice principal. Really, I like this vice principal.
I had a chance to speak to the vice principal and told her that I really liked what she said. The logic is simple. When teachers know that the school management is taking care of them, they will be happier. When they are happier, they will be better teachers.
So with an understanding of how the school is, and having met her teachers and classmates, on the first working day of 2017, Phoebie started her journey in primary school.
The decision for the mode of transport was a tough one. HusBenKoh and I initially wanted to let Phoebie take the school bus, but after considering the distance from our home to her school, we decided that I will send Phoebie to school, so that she will not have to wake up at 5am to catch the 6am school bus.
We made sure Phoebie understood the importance of sleeping early, and conditioned her to sleep early and wake up early. On the first day of school, she woke up all excited and got ready for school.
To help primary one students cope, the school had arranged primary four students to buddy with the primary ones during recess, so that the older students could guide the younger ones as they learnt to buy and carry food on their own.
On the first day, Phoebie conveniently ate the cereals I had packed in her bag during recess. My intention of packing the cereals was for her to eat them after school while waiting for me, but perhaps I was not clear with my instructions. So on the second day of school, I specifically told her that she had to learn to buy food while she still had her buddies to guide her.
Phoebie followed instructions and on the second day, she asked her buddies to bring her to the stalls and see what food her school canteen had to offer. Excited about her purchase, she ran to us to tell us that the stall she had bought food from also gave free fruits. While I wasn’t too excited about what she bought (fish ball and crab stick? Really?), I was glad that she at least tried to buy food. That was a good start.
Watching how the recess buddies fuss over Phoebie made me laugh. The teachers must have instructed them to take really care of the primary ones, because they were carrying things for Phoebie and even fed her water. They really treated Phoebie like she was a very young child. I decided to ask the buddies to come over and asked them to guide Phoebie about looking after her belongings instead of doing everything for her. They giggled and agreed.
Phoebie was happy in school, and her class form teacher was prompt in informing parents about what we could do to help our primary one children adjust to long hours in school and having to learn many things.
One of the things Phoebie had to adjust to was having to learn spelling. The list was given to us at the start of the second week, so I made a copy of the list and explained to Phoebie the importance of starting early in preparing for her weekly spelling test.
She wasn’t particularly happy but after some episodes (that’s another story for another time), she understood why i wanted her to prepare for the test early.
All in all, Phoebie is adjusting well to life in Primary School. I can only be thankful that the school management has made good arrangements to help the young children cope with the big change from kindergarten life to primary school life. Now to move on with the rest of the journey.
Next entry, Breyen’s first week in Kindergarten!