Unlike our American friends, the beginning of the year also marks the beginning of the school year in Malaysia. So the past few days, we've had many scared children going to school for the first time and many parents going through the " is my kid going to be okay in school?" phase. I'm one of them.
This year I have one kid that's starting kindergarten for the first time. He starts formal school (Standard 1) next year and so I thought I'd have him experience 1 year of kindergarten. Hopefully easing into the school system next year would be smoother . Unlike most parents forking out RM700-RM900 for kindy registration and RM200-RM250 monthly fees, I have only to pay RM220 for the entire year. You see, I opted to send my son to a government kindy rather than a commercial one. The kindy is in the primary school that he will be attending next year.
Small little building tucked in the back corner of the primary school.
The cheaper fees is definitely a plus. My only concern is that all the other kindergarten kids are Muslim and speak Bahasa Malaysia. I'm not so bothered about the racial inbalance (because we are all "anak Malaysia" right?) but rather the language barrier. I've tried to teach KokoD some Bahasa the last one year but his motivation to learn was not so great. Therefore, his fluency in the language is extremely limited. He was excited to go to school the first day but quickly became withdrawn when he realized he couldn't communicate with the other children.
See his very UN-enthusiastic look.
The teacher spoke to me yesterday and requested that we speak Bahasa to him at home so he can pick up the language faster. Yesterday he came home very angry. He found school to be boring and wanted to come home earlier. Of course the teacher had to keep him there until it was time to go home. So I had to deal with a very angry little boy yesterday. DH found the way to cheer him up - gave him time to play computer games :) Of course there was pep talk at night too. I asked him what were some things he wanted to say but didn't know how. In the end we settled on these 3 simple phrases:
- Siapa nama kamu? (What is your name?) - Boleh saya jadi kawan kamu? (Can I be your friend?) - Boley saya main sama? (Can I play with you?)
When I dropped him off this morning, he still wanted to stay clutched to my leg. I kept shooing him to the playground where the other kids were. He pretty much stayed away from all the other kids. I feel a little sad that he has to go through this tough time of trying to adapt. BUT when I picked him up after school, I was happy to hear that today was a better day for him. YAY!
One good thing I have to say about my boy is that even though he dislikes going to kindy at the moment and says he doesn't want to go anymore, he's not kicked up a fuss about it. When it's time to wake up, he does so. When it's time to go to school, he gets in the car. When school starts, he obediently goes to the class.
My boy who doesn't nap came home and crashed after the first day of school. Sigh! Must have been a stressful morning. Unfortunately the napping trend did not continue the following days. Darn!
His sister on the other hand was very excited to go back to school. Why? Because now she's a prefect mah. Yeah, get to dorn the special blue shirt.
It's important that you do NOT compare your children to others. Don't say "See how happy that child is? Can't you be like her?" or "Your siblings didn't have a problem, why are you acting this way?" What they need is for us to understand their feelings. Don't brush away their fear like "Aiyah, there is nothing to be scared about." But rather help them to cope by identifying with them e.g. "Mommy was scared too the first time I mommy went to school." See if you can figure out together how to make the experience better. Of course, hopefully the teacher is also helpful and compassionate.