When Jayvon had his first day at Little Big back in Singapore, I was feeling excited, proud, anxious all at the same time. As most parents are, I was concerned if he would be able to fit in well, if he would be able to communicate to his teachers, if he would be able to make friends.
He really adjusted well, and we never regretted our decision to send him to a full-day child care centre when he just turned two years old. At the school, with the usual beginning few weeks of separation anxiety, he quickly found his stride in the school, and learnt and gained so much.
So one of my main concerns was definitely the new school environment for Jayvon here in Sydney, Australia.
Of course, if we’d remained in Singapore, he would also have to change to a formal school environment in two years’ time, as he entered the Primary School system. And hearing from my colleagues, I am sure that will be a HUGE change too.
But life has thrown us a fast-track ball.
Here in Sydney, kindergarten (for those aged five) is a very much like attending a formal school. In the public school Jay attends, it is for kindy kids, all the way up to Year 6. The entire school population is about 300, and there are a lot of classrooms, long hallways, school bells that ring and even a canteen to order food for recess and lunch. So in a sense, it is the equivalent of a primary school environment in Singapore.
How the long school hall looks. I love that the walls are not just painted pristine white, but well decorated with the students’ artwork.
On his first day, we had the chance to peek into his classroom – this shot is just half the classroom, so there is a lot of space for the kids.
I picked Jay up from school that very first day, and cos I wasn’t sure where the parents had to wait, I went to the office, and the principal told me to just “hang” outside the class till the bell rang, and then the form teacher would direct me. And so I caught a little glimpse of Jay in his first day.
Sitting at the front, and not singing along to “Incy Wincy Spider” cos the lyrics were different from what we are used to. Did you know there’s a second stanza, where the Spider climbed and got caught in the snow and froze? Well, now I only heard it then.
But I got to admit, peering through the window and seeing Jayvon look out of sorts broke my heart a teensy bit. It was tough knowing he would also have to adjust to a brand new environment. Back in Singapore, he was quite the “leader” – sometimes leading the other kids astray but always the one giving his opinion. So seeing my normally cheeky boy turn into this more subdued Jay was heartbreaking to me. I even wanted to tear when I realised he didn’t get to eat his lunch that day, cos he left it on the bench to go to the toilet, and when he came back, the lunch was missing. He said he asked a friend to keep a look-out for him, but the friend had “just left” and so the “ugly birds ate up the nuggets.”
Sigh. My poor boy.
Two weeks on, he has settled in a lot more.
Just like in Primary School, he gets the chance to choose his lunch and snacks (which he ABSOLUTELY LOVES, cos he loves any opportunity to exert his independence). But by the fourth day, when he still wanted to have “4 dinosaur nuggets” for lunch, I had to put my foot down and insist he order other things like ham and cheese toast or a bacon and cheese pizza. The menu is also pretty extensive, and the children all have to order and pay for the food in the morning.
He comes home and excitedly tells me about how Aussies sing the Alphabet song differently, or shares the latest he learnt in Science class (yes, they teach Science in Kindy too). He even says certain words with a twang that he certainly did not pick up in Singapore! Haha!
Oh, and I appreciate most – the beginning and ending hours of the school. Assembly is at 9 a.m. every morning, and school ends at 3.10 p.m.
9 a.m. Glorious. No need to wake up at some unearthly hour to bring the kids to school (not till I get back to Singapore anyways). After-school care is also available till 6 p.m., but since we aren’t working full time, we are able to fetch him at 3 every day. Which he appreciates, since he used to come home only after 5 p.m. (or later!) in Singapore.
So two weeks in, all looks to be doing well. My prayer has and will continue to be that Jay will be able to find good friends in the school, that he would have a good time every single day.
Of course… it is now the school holidays for him, so it is three weeks of woohoo-no-school for him and omigosh-no-school for us!