Friday 16 April 2021

The Littlest Girl's First Weeks at Preschool

It's my own personal conviction that if given the choice, I would prefer to delay the start of my children's schooling journey for as long as possible so that they can have a carefree childhood at home. Once they start school, it would be a non-stop strive for achievement for the next 20-odd years of their lives! Hence, for the very short first 2 years of their existence, I'd hoped for them to spend it at home. This is the reason why my two oldest only started preschool when they were 2.5 years old (you can read about the Eldest Girl's first day of preschool here and the Boy's first day of preschool here). 

This was what I had explained to the Mum-in-law, who was getting along in years and, drained from having to keep up with my super active Littlest Girl, had requested for us to send her to preschool when she was about 18 months old. 

I struck a bargain with her that we will send her to preschool after she turned 2 years old, which was already earlier than her siblings. Thankfully, she agreed! #bestmuminlawever


As you know, I'm no rookie when it came to preschool hunting. If you wanted to send your child to a preschool, you'd need to start the hunt at least 1 year before and indicate your interest before Sep/Oct of each year, which is usually when preschools start their enrolment for the coming year. 

I did my research during Phase 1 of the pandemic and registered my interest for my top 3 choices at ECDA's website. Thankfully, my top 2 choices contacted me in Sep 2020 and invited us for a school visit. 

For context, I live in a very mature estate and there are at least 6 preschools within our budget (which is not high considering we have 3 kids) that are within walking distance of our home. This is one of the reasons why the hubby and I bought our home: the close proximity to many good preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, polytechnics, junior colleges and universities (NUS is right at our back door and NTU a few stations away). Therefore, my experience may be very different from yours, depending on your home's location and the demand/supply in your area. 

School Visit

Both of the preschools we visited were housed in landed semi-detached houses, both with their own playgrounds. I loved that the kids can have play time everyday (unless it rained) as they didn't have to walk to the neighbouring park/playground to do so. 

We liked both schools but eventually chose the cheaper of the two. The school required for us to place a deposit of one month's school fee in order to secure a place; we can decide the actual enrolment month later. 

Even though it was so much in advance and quite a big sum of money, I felt at peace putting the deposit as I had faith that this was the right preschool for my girl. 

It was always the plan for Cousin E to be in the same school as the Littlest Girl so that they can grow up together (since they are born in the same year). When my Bro- and Sis-in-law heard that we placed the deposit at this preschool, they did the same even though Cousin E will only start in July 2021! They didn't want to risk not having a place for Cousin E! 😂

Start of Preschool/Childcare

Day 1: Thu, Eve of Good Friday

We decided on 1 Apr 2021 as the start date. Before we came to this decision, we actually debated on whether to let her start on the eve of a long weekend or on the Monday after. We eventually came to the conclusion that the former would help ease her into school a little bit better. 

The Mum-in-law had a lot of difficulties transitioning my two older kids to preschool, hence the responsibility to bring my girl to and from school lies with me. 

As I would need to walk about 10 minutes to her school, I was so happy to bring out my all-time-favourite stroller: Baby Jogger City Select from storage! Eventually, the Mum-in-law may need to push both girls home so we need a sturdy double stroller to do the job 😊

Before we went to school, I made sure to prepare her for the day ahead. I told her she was going to school, that she'd get to play with all her friends and most importantly, that I would be back to pick her up. It's very important to me that my children be mentally prepared for school even if you don't know how much they understand. Our children are smarter than we give them credit!

Anyway, the school took our first 'Check-In' photo to mark her attendance. They do this at 'Check-out' as well, in order to capture the person who came to drop off/pick up your child. 

All the pictures are uploaded to Little Lives, a website used by the school to help parents track their child's progress. 

As with my 2 older kids, I had expected to be allowed to accompany my Littlest Girl on her first day. But alas, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the school told me that I could not be present in the school. I did manage to take some pictures of her in her classroom before leaving. 

I do not believe in 'sneaking' off when the child is not looking as it breaks the trust they have with you. I informed the Littlest Girl that I was leaving and assured her that I would be back. She cried when I left! 😢

Just in case she needed me, I stood outside the school for about 15 minutes. When I didn't hear anymore crying, I went home. 

Although my girl was on full day preschool, the school recommended for the first week to be half day so as to slowly ease her in. Hence, I went to pick her up at about 12 noon. 

She cried in big relief when she saw me! Her teacher said she had her lunch and did very well for her first day. So far so good! 

Day 2: The Monday after Easter long weekend

We were slightly concerned that she might cry more as she had to go back to school after the long weekend but her cries were only for a moment. I remembered being very heartbroken when transitioning my older kids to school but for the Littlest, I felt very ok. I don't know whether it is because I have grown used to the cries or because she doesn't sob quite as tragically as her siblings (probably the latter 😂). 

When I picked her at 12.30pm, she was happily playing with her friends and only started to cry when she saw me!

Day 3-6:

The days after were pretty much the same. There was some crying when I dropped her off but she was willing to allow her teacher to carry her into her classroom. 

I'm usually the one who picks her up at 12.30-1pm as well but there was a day when I needed to go to the office, hence the Mum-in-law went instead.

Each day, her teacher would report that, other than being extremely active and a daredevil who enjoyed climbing on everything, she was adapting well. 

Week 2:

Since she was doing well the week before, we decided that it was time for her to try joining the rest of her class for their afternoon nap. Her teacher agreed and told me that she would give me a call if the Littlest couldn't sleep. If I didn't hear from her, it meant that I could pick her up at 3.30pm after her nap. 

Her teacher never called because the Littlest had no issues taking her naps in school! Her very experienced teacher knew just how to get her to sleep. We were very happy! We progressed to extending the time that we went to pick her; from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. 

It seems this little extrovert daredevil of mine is the most adaptable of my 3 kids! She could even walk to her class on her own without crying by the end of the week! I was so proud! 🤩

Week 3 and beyond

The Littlest Girl is not the easiest child to look after as she is very determined, fearless and has boundless energy! However I feel that her teachers understand her needs. This is to me the most important factor that I look out for in a school 😊

Now, whenever I tell my girl that we are going to school, she quickly puts on her 'school shoes' (the pair that she only wears to school) and says 'let's go'! 😍

So very thankful for such a smooth transition! 
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