Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Start of School

 Y&K have started "school". I've enrolled them in a daily unaccompanied 2 hours playgroup near our home and have started since the first week of January. They were amazing during the first week. Didn't cry one bit and they loved school so much that they were very unwilling to leave when it's time to go home. I only accompanied them on the first day and left them on their own from the 2nd day onwards. They coped very well and all the parents who were in the class to accompany their child were all singing praises to me about how well behaved and independent they are in class, especially when they are the youngest in class, born on the last day of the year.

However, I was careless and allowed an "accident" to happen during the middle of the 2nd week. Y was having a mild runny nose and I decided to keep him home as I didn't want him to spread any virus if he is getting a flu. Seeing K coping so well in school, I let him go alone. I explained to him that he is going to school alone and he said bye to his brother. I sent him there and peeped in the window before I go. He seemed alright but I didn't expect him to burst into tears shortly and went on crying uncontrollably until the teacher had to call me to bring him home.

When I reached there, the teacher passed him over to me and closed the door hastily, without even saying bye. She refused to let me in to settle him. I heard a lot of children crying inside and I understand her position. However, K was very upset, he was screaming for "Teacher Clara! I want go school!". "No more Kor Kor" repeatedly. I guessed he was in a turmoil. He wanted school but couldn't part with his brother and with the teacher closing the door on him, I believed he felt unwanted.

K is a highly sensitive child. And he seemed very affected by this. From that day onwards, he refused to answer any questions relating to school, especially when I asked if he likes teacher. He started crying from the next day onwards, up to an hour. During the first week, they were not affected by the other children's crying but after that incident, he started to be very terrified of the children crying there and will not even step into the classroom. A big difference from the first week where they were always the first to be rushing in the classroom and saying bye to me.

I was as affected as him which I know I shouldn't. I'm upset because the environment that he has initially felt safe in is no longer safe. From telling me about the stories the teacher read and the songs they sang in school, the only words that I managed to get out of him about school was "children cry". School is no longer a fun place where they play and learn. It's now a terror place where all the children cry. I know it's going to take a long time for the teachers to buy him back.

After a week of marathon crying everyday, the teachers decided to let me in to settle him. I didn't think it was a good idea but in the end, we decided we should trust the teachers. I carry him in the class from then on. I told him the teachers are making an exception for me to stay with him for a while and he can go play when he is ready but I will have to go soon. Things have improved, crying had stopped. I had to stay up to an hour the first few days before he was ready to get down on his own. It has been shorten to 15 minutes today. With me in there, the teachers were able to settle the other crying children before attending to K and I think it's better for them as Y&K are still a little babyish compared to the other children.

I'm glad that Y is still comfortable with school though he is not willing to walk into the classroom when he sees other children crying now. The decision to send them to "school" is so they could socialize with the other children but sometimes I wonder if we are doing right to send such young children to school when I see them crying so badly. It's almost 4 weeks and so many children, most of them are almost 3 years old, are still crying and screaming in class. K even had nightmares about school. It pains me when I hear him screaming the teacher's name in the middle of the night. I admit I did think about withdrawing him but seeing Y coping well stopped me and I still think he will still like school once the crying in class stops. Let's hope it will turn out this way. It's really important to me that school remains a fun and safe place for them.

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