What a week it has been! My eldest son started school last week (yes, I AM that old). To be honest, I was probably more nervous about sending him to school than he was about going. The past week has taught me:
- some things are inevitable- As much as I would love if my kids stayed as cute and innocent as they are right now, they have to and will grow up. The upside is that with each day and each change, comes new experiences to share and new memories to keep.
- things that may seem scary to us MAY not be to them- I was worried that he would be nervous, being in a new school, with new friends, meeting his new teachers but Yousof took it all in his stride. Though, to make his transition easier, I did make sure that I waited until he was settled in class, I looked in on him during lunch (his school ends at 3pm) and I am always already waiting to pick him up at the end of the day. I am thankful that his days at Educare IIUM taught him to get on well with his adults and his peers.
- even though we think they’re not ready, the only way to know is to let them try- I was apprehensive about letting him go to school by bus. I could not imagine letting him step onto the bus and not knowing for sure that he arrived at school safely each day. In the end, I made sure to choose a trusted bus company, I spoke to the driver personally, and got good recommendations from other parents. I explained to him why he is taking the bus, how to ride the bus safely and how to get off the bus safely. So in the mornings when the bus stops in front of my house and I send him up those steps, I take comfort in the fact that he is learning to be independent, slowly but surely.
- the perfect mix of down time and study time is a balancing act- When he comes home from school, he is tired from a whole day of concentrating and learning new things, an amazing feat for kids who averagely have short attention spans. So I let him take a nap, watch TV and have a snack. After dinner, we sit down as a family to go over his homework or do exercises. Not a simple feat with 2 younger siblings not in school. But I try to make it easier by making sure dinner ends early, as little distractions as possible (no TV after Maghrib) and a proper place to study (small table and chairs for each of them). In order to make sure that Yousof does not feel like studying is a boring thing that only he has to endure, I also prepare age appropriate “study” like activities for his 4 & 2 year old siblings (mostly colouring, drawing or some simple word exercises).
- not everything new is good- The only downside of school is that there will always be some kid who makes it less fun for others. In Yousof’s case, it is a boy in his class who likes to call him Utop or Yousof Tayyoub (after the famous Ramadhan kurma ad). I was upset to hear this but I tried not to over-react. Some friends suggested that I should confront the kid and his parents, but as of now I have decided to take a less confrontational approach. We are after all talking about another 7 year old child here. However, I sat Yousof down and told him that if the boy persists, for him to tell the boy firmly to stop and ignore him, instead make friends with the other kids in his class. So far, I have learned that this boy is getting on a lot of people’s nerves including the teachers’. I am going to keep a close eye on the situation, and if it warrants, my next step will be to inform his class teacher, so she is aware of my concern and can monitor the situation. Even though, I cannot shelter the kids from everything and everyone, I can try to make sure that I can reduce the possible trauma.
I never thought that when the time came to send off my first child to school, that it would be under the current circumstances. I do worry that, my kids may be at a disadvantage because of their family situation but at least they have parents who love them and a very supportive extended family.
So, even though life keeps changing, and I cannot control every single thing that happens, I am hopeful and excited (though sometimes nervous) to see what the future will bring.