Tia went to playschool since the month of January this year. I started researching playschools, montessoris and kindergartens since last November, when she has just turned 3. My parents thought it was a bit too early, but Tia is an end of the year baby and so she's counted as 4 years old this year, 2015. I was a bit particular with choosing schools because I see her 24/7, day and night. So my criteria at that time were:
1) Play based. or better, montessori. When school opened in January, Tia was only 3 years 2 months. she was still struggling on potty training and independence. so why would i push her into ABCs straightaway?
2) Teachers who are loveable, caring and most importantly, patient. since Tia started late on potty training, that was my top concern. handling poopoo in diaper of a 3 year old isn't very pleasant, and at the time she was in a phase of crying and refused being washed. so patient teachers are my top priority. a lot of schools answered me "potty training is between you and your child.you have to try at home, and we will help your child progress through it." But the school that i chose told me "Don't you worry mommy, we will help tia go through the potty training. we always ask each child in class if they need to use the toilet." and like that, i was hooked. And also, students don't call teachers "teacher"..they call them "aunty"
3) Not a franchise. I find Brainy Bunch a bit overrated, too many students for the teachers to take care of and for tia who is still very dependant on us..perhaps won't help much.
4) A big space to run around, away from the main road, lots of trees, big playground. I chose a playschool housed in a bungalow in the hills, lots of greens, and a big compound for the children to run about and activities to be held.
5) Security. of course, like any other. so far, security is very tight at Tia's school. once they close the gates, none of the parents can simply drive in and park inside. the gate is pretty far from the bungalow. they don't simply let even the parents stay indoors to watch the kids. they recognise parents cars very well and if you need someone else to pickup your child, you need to send them with a letter from you. They are pretty reserved, or traditional, i am not sure. but they don't have an official facebook page or a website where they post our kids photos so parents know what happens in school. i would love to know what happens in school...but i feel its a bit unsafe to post it to a public facebook accounts. this school does post photos online, but on a private website where only parents know the password.
6) Multiracial - I did consider Islamic montessori....only that i don't want tia to mix with only a single race. i'd rather send her for extra Islamic classes after school if theres any. the school i chose has a mix of all malaysian races and a few expats as well, and a handful of mix breeds.
7) Follows children individual development -a lot of school divide their classes by year of birth. but this school goes by actual age. so tia was put in the early 3year olds to late 3 years old class. and i was just told that she will be upgrading to the 4year old class after this school holidays. the 2-3year olds spend the day downstairs whereas the 4year old til 6 years old classes are upstairs.
Tia loves her school. everytime i pick her up she will wave a big byebye to her aunties (the children calls all the teachers "aunty") and never once she wakes up reluctantly to get ready for school. she will usually wake up and say "ok i am ready for school mommy!" She comes home singing all the songs the school teaches and tells me all about her 2 bestfriends, Emily and Bella. during the weekends she will ask to go to school as well.
I just went for the PTM the other day and her teacher commented that she sings all the time and loves art. she sometimes came back telling me aunty ask to zippp. i understand, cuz when she sings, its totally all high pitched and loud..but i usually dont want to break her heart by saying ok enoughh...mommy pening dah. hehe
This school does provide food, but i was told that tia usually eat a liiiiiitle bit only, and there are days not at all. maybe she wasnt hungry. snack time is at 10.30am. i usually give her snacks like sandwich and fruits or cereal. then their lunch at 11.30am. or maybe she's just picky and i can only get her to eat at home cuz i feed her. in front of some kind of video producing device :') yes i know its bad. but whatever works will do for me.
All is great with the school. however, not everything is perfect. their official hrs are 8.30-12.30pm, but they only start lessons by 9 and finishes class at 11.30am, makan n dismissed right after. i would like to think the hrs are short because tia is in the smaller kids class. perhaps they get more learning time in the upper class (age 4 and above). i also just realized they have quite a few of school breaks. usually schools will follow either the local holidays or the international one right? haritu tia cuti for easter....then suddenly ada cuti for nuzul Al-Quran pulak. dont really fancy this but what to do..what is important is that tia loves her school and her aunties.
Because, if tia doesnt like a class, she will definitely tell me. and she won't be asking to go to school during the weekends too. she jumps out of bed and willingly step in the shower to go to school every morning. so i love this school.
Fees? well...um...i know a lot of people who spend like rm11k a term for preschool and this is nothing compared to it, but we are just a regular family, and thus rm2600 per term of 3 months with a handful of holidays feel a bit overbudget for us. that would be rm800 a month and tia doesnt even like the food. i need to consider another school for her since we're moving, perhaps some place cheaper cuz she might be ready for it. however, we always stay true to 'pay peanuts get monkeys'..so asalkan tia is well taken care of and happy, i am happy. for now. when riz has to go to school, a cheaper alternative will be necessary.
So that's basically it about Tia's school. humble, play based, and caring are the words i can use to describe them. I won't be disclosing name of school here, but if anybody's interested, you could comment below and leave your emails or email me straight k:)
Til then, ta!