My child is not even out of diapers yet, but the thought of kindergarten is a looming threat in the horizon. To me it signals a definite end to toddlerhood, to being mummy’s baby. It’s the end of our special time together and the official start to her being a “Big Girl”.
To break it down, these are just some of the things about kindergarten that are already stressing me out:
Which kindergarten is best for my child?
There are more kindergarten and preschool programs in Malaysia than colours in the rainbow. So many questions, so many decisions. Should we go for Montessori? Should we go for programs emphasising a strong academic foundation or creative play? Do we take a full or half day?
In Malaysia, we have the choice of vernacular schools, international schools and public schools. Which is the best? Should I enroll her in a Chinese kindergarten just to make sure she has a good foundation in a second language?
In this competitive day and age, we all want what’s best. But truly, how do we define “best”?
Will my child be alright?
Will they miss me and home? Will they be scared and lost? Will they know where to find the toilet? Will they be able to learn fast enough?! Kindergarten is a brand new environment for our children who are used to regular nap times and hours of free time playing with their toys and dolls.
So it’s alright to be worried and even slightly intimidated. Make plans to bring your child on a tour of the school before hand and figuring out where everything is. The bathroom? The canteen?
The teachers? Run through her schedule and assure her you’ll be there at the end of the day to bring her home. Will the other kids be alright?
It seems so easy for children to make friends, but the reality may be so different. Some children may be introverts. Some may have never been exposed to other children in their lives.
In the worst-case scenario, she may even be bullied. This is every parent’s nightmare, isn’t it? Experts recommend that we help our children identify and deal with this problem early, by role-playing at home.
Let them know that someone at school may not be so nice, but they don’t have to put up with it. Tell them it’s alright to walk away, or tell a teacher or play with someone else.
Will the teachers be alright?
With our children at home, we know that they are loved, cared for and well taken of. How could we surrender them to a perfect stranger who already has a classful of children to look after?
This thought is one that keeps me awake at night. However, seasoned mums would reassure me that teachers are wonderful people who understand the huge responsibility they have undertaken.
They are in fact, our partners in educating and developing our children. They suggest meeting the teacher before term starts, and even watching her take a class to reassure myself of how capable they truly are.
Will I be alright? While I worry that she will burst out crying the moment I leave her at the kindergarten school’s gates, I’m pretty sure the reality is I will be the huge sobbing mess driving home alone. It’s a bittersweet event and letting go will be hard.
But kindergarten is the first official schooling experience, the stepping stone to more achievements and an opportunity for her to grow; academically, physically, emotionally and socially. It will be good for her. And I’ll be with her every step of the way.