Wednesday, March 30, 2011

School Hunt: Almost There (But Not Quite...)

 I have been meaning to share this with you as this is one of the most important decisions we (husband and I) will make for our little daughter. There are moms out there that have schooling children and experienced school hunting. I hope you can help me. I have mentioned here that I went school hunting for the most appropriate school for our little girl. I say appropriate, not the best. To be honest, I used to want the best school but after a while I realized, it’s not a matter of what’s best but what’s best for which child personality. Also, I found from one site several months ago that before you go hunting for the right school, write down the 5 most important values that you would want your child to learn from the school. Last year I wrote down these:
  1. God fearing / Place God Above All – I sort of copied this from my company’s mission/vision. This is very important for me that my children develop a personal relationship with the Lord.
  2. Love for Knowledge
  3. Respect/Care for Others
  4. Discipline
  5. Love for Art and sports
Items 2-4 are self-explanatory. For item 5, my husband and I are really art lovers, he for music and writing and me for theatre, dance and sketching. We value being able to express our thoughts, emotions and dreams through art. It’s also a very important tool to destress so we want our children to experience artform in its purest form.

To make the story short, we were able to shortlist the schools that we think is right for our daughter. Both are progressive schools. School no. 1 scheduled her assessment one Saturday morning. It was your typical progressive house-turned-school. We were requested to wait in the office while the teacher and teacher assistant gave her skills test in one room. Basically, the test covered alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes and basic questions in information and social awareness. The verdict: with her age and skills, she can start at kinder level. She can skip nursery but they suggest that she take a summer class on reading/writing readiness in order to prepare her on her first year in school. She kinda fell short on writing but aced the shapes and colors tests. I was happy with the result and most importantly my little girl felt at home immediately in the school and with the teachers. She’s the type that doesn’t warm up easily to strangers, suplada kumbaga, so I was relieved to know she likes it there.

We decided to try another school just to see how it will go. We wanted to get a second opinion, in a manner of speaking. So off to school no. 2 we go. This is a much bigger school compared to school no. 1 since they accept students until grade 6. Sophie was whisked in a room while we stayed in the lobby. After half an hour (or less), the teacher already called us to discuss the result of the exam.
Based on the age, she is already qualified for Kinder but based on the assessment, she needs to start with Nursery + summer class. Their Kinder level requires children to be able to identify number words up to 50. They should also be able to write well already and can copy some words and assignments on the board. Plus, I was expecting an assessment on the other skills like in school 1. Apparently, my daughter was only assessed based on her knowledge of reading, writing and numbers. I was surprised by this and slightly saddened. I felt that school 1 gave a more holistic assessment. 

Everytime I share this experiences to my friends, they are equally surprised at the expectations of school no. 2 to kinder level. Now, I don’t know if school 1 is just too lax in their curriculum or school no. 2 is too much? I would also like to know if I have been too lenient in teaching my kids the basics of education like reading and writing? Both my children love books, they love to write on their blackboard, love to paint, draw and color.

I was even bothered to know the news about the two gifted kids in the commercial years back. Remember the kid that can memorize the solar system,etc? Until now she has no college degree. According to some friends who are her batchmates from college, she could not decide what course to take. At some point, sadly, she somehow just got burned out from studying. That’s a sad story that I don’t want my children to experience. Another friend was sad because her child doesn’t like to continue her ballet and piano anymore. This kid got in school at age two. She attended ballet, piano, guitar lessons and other extra curicular activities since she was a toddler. Now she’s in gradeschool and only wants to practice her guitar. The others she just dropped out, got tired according to the parent.

Right now, I am willing to give progressive school a try as I have been receiving good reviews but one lingering question on my mind is: when these kids from progressive schools become adults, how will they fare in terms of critical decision making and high level stress in college and the real world? 

Gosh, am I over analyzing this? 

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