The title is a bit misleading because technically. I did not send my daughter to school for the first time.
Instead, it was my wife who did, but this post is about my experience sending my daughter to kindergarten when she just turned four.
For your information, my wife and I decide to send my daughter to kindergarten to mingle and mix with other kids.
Being the only child, she sometimes seems bored at home. I was hoping that kindergarten would brighten up her days as she mingled with children her age.
It was never about asking her to score ‘A’ or being the best academic student in class. Those things can come later when she is older.
SENDING THE FOUR YEAR OLD TO SCHOOL
My daughter was born in December. Thanks to that, and perhaps my ignorance, I totally didn’t know that she had to be registered early for kindergarten.
St Joseph’s Kindergarten was my first choice to be honest. However, it was full at capacity by the time I decided to register my four year old girl. I left my number in the ‘wait-list’ but I’ve never heard from them until today.
Mind you, I tried registering my daughter in June 2018, and it was already full. Apparently, parents send their children as early as three years old there. This makes it difficult for those aged four, five and six to get in due to the ‘carry-up’ system used.
Since I couldn’t get my daughter into St Joseph, I decided to send her to another kindergarten which was convenient for both my wife and I.
I’m calling this kindergarten, ‘Kindergarten X‘
You will find out why I won’t name this kindergarten as you read on.
Anyway, reviews I received about Kindergarten X were good. No one had anything bad to say about the kindergarten. Kindergarten X uses Mandarin as their medium of instruction, which was in line with my desire to have my daughter pick up the language.
PRE-REGISTRATION AT MALAYSIAN KINDERGARTEN
Since I was worried the Kindergarten X would be full, I registered my daughter in November 2019, when I double confirmed that St Joseph’s kindergarten still couldn’t take in my girl.
I paid the fees which was above RM600, and was told to come back on a later date to collect her books and uniform.
In December, I came to bring my girl to the kindergarten, and asked her to try on her kindergarten uniform. Her uniforms were separately charged, so that’s another RM135 gone for three pairs. My girl was excited when I brought her, and she couldn’t help but teall everyone she was going to school ext year.
I also collected part of her books, which to my surprise was very ‘academic’. In my opinion, children at five, should not be too studious just yet. The books included some empty exercise books. Again, these books got me wondering because empty exercise books for 4 – 5 year old are mainly for them to scribble and not write.
There were a few red flags when I did my daughter’s pre-registration at Kindergarten X. One was the lack of communication and interaction from the staff which handled our registration.
As far as I can remember, there wasn’t any guide for new parents like myself. It was as if Kindergarten X teachers and administrators had this idea that all parents should know the drill.
I did ask, but the answers were brief and in my opinion, less than satisfactory. This was the second red flag.
After Christmas, I went to the kindergarten X again, and still there was a lot of questions in my mind. However, I shrugged off any doubts on Kindergarden X because those I’ve asked had said it’s “OKAY”, and I assumed it was largely due to language barrier. I spoke little to none Mandarin.
At that time, I figured if all parents went through what I did and did OKAY, I should be too.
CHILDREN ATTENDING KINDERGARTEN
The first day of school went easy on my girl. She woke up early and was excited to go. She even posed for me before I left for work. A week before, she even told her nanny she can’t come to her nanny’s place too early because she had to go to school.
It was the moment she had been waiting for. School only lasted for two hours as Kindergarten X wanted students to familiarize themselves with the environment first.
My girl was excited after the first day of school, but things didn’t go as planned on the second day.
Here’s when things start to get messy.
The second day, the teacher of Kindergarten X reported that my daughter cried a lot in class. My girl also started telling me she didn’t want to go to school that same evening.
My wife and I took it as something usual for kids going to school for the first time.
However, on Friday, which is when school was in full session, she repeatedly tells us she didn’t want to go to school anymore. In fact, every time we brought up the word school, she would break down and cry. Sometimes, she would suddenly cry and become upset, and then tell us she doesn’t want to go to school.
I thought it was usual, but I was starting to be slightly concerned.
The weekend passed with my daughter trying her best to negotiate herself out of going to school. Every time we said she needed to go to school, she cried. It came to the extent she even declined all the rewards I would give if she went to school, and opted for only one, that she does not go to school.
At night, she would suddenly wake up crying and then ask that she not be sent to school. It was getting worrying, but we decided to send her on Monday as well.
KNOWING SOMETHING IS AMISS
Monday came, I had to pick her up alone for the first time. As I peeked into her class, I could see that she was lined up at the back. Her teacher called out her name, and she came to me. I carried her to the car, and once I got her seated, I realized she looked traumatized, shivering perhaps.
Beyond all, my little girl didn’t look happy and looked down right sad. She kept quiet which was very unusual for her cheerful self. In fact she has not looked happy since her second day of school.
As I drove her to her nanny, I asked what happened in school. At first, she refused but eventually told me that her teacher had constantly scolded her.. She also told me that her teacher hit her on the hand.
I asked her nanny to dig deeper, and my daughter told her the same story. Her nanny also managed to squeeze out that the hitting wasn’t hard.
I’m guessing the ‘hitting and scolding for no reason’ is due to the language barrier. Being a Mandarin kindergarten, I believe the use of the language was done in full and even
Night came, and I was starting to question if I should continue sending my daughter to the same school or pull her out.
At four, I was worried that her dislike of Kindergarten X would translate into her hating school wholeheartedly. As a teacher myself, I know how bad that could be.
SHE MIGHT BE TRAUMATIZED?
That Monday night, my daughter continued crying about going to school. She went to bed early, and woke up twice crying about not wanting to go to school.
She even said “I want to go to another school”.
The second time she woke up, I made a promise that she doesn’t have to go to school the next day and she will be sent to her nanny instead.
It was only then did she sleep soundly until morning. I think it was the first time she slept soundly since the past five days.
That night, my wife and I made a decision to pull our daughter out of Kindergarten X as I seek other options.
There wasn’t a point to send her to Kindergarten X if she is sad, as our main reason to send her there was to socialize. You can’t socialize if you are not happy.
PULLING OUT OF SCHOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME
The next day, I went to Kindergarten X to request a refund of the two months fees I’ve paid in advance (or at least one month), and also all her stationary and books which Kindergarten X kept.
The principal of Kindergarten X seemed reluctant to allow me to pull my daughter out of her kindergarten. She even asked I would like to tray again in a couple of weeks, months or even a year later.
Her words “Why you want to pull her out? You know primary school now is hard and difficult. She can’t cope later” made me even more determined to pull my daughter out of her kindergarten. – Remember why I wanted my daughter to go to kindergarten? It had nothing to do with academic achievement, and she just emphasis that.
Anyway, after 15 minutes, I failed to get back any money, and only managed to get back my daughters color pencils and crayons. My wife confirmed that some of the books we had bought were not returned.
WHERE IS KINDERGARTEN X?
Please don’t ask details about Kindergarten X because I will not reveal it.
The fact is each child and each school has a different method in educating children, so my experience here is just to share.
It does not mean Kindergarten X is bad. It just means that Kindergarten X is not suitable for my child, and does not fit into my idea of a school for four year old kids.
People have different perspective in life and visions for their children. I have mine, and this is my sharing.
>> Read Part II of Sending my daughter to school for the first time.