This is a follow up post about our challenge in searching for a school to enroll Benjamin. We are facing difficulties with how the schools are assessing the student’s kindergarten readiness.
We cancelled our admission to one school which he passed a strict assessment that included a session with the school’s resident speech and behavior therapist. The school fees were too expensive for us. I know, I should have known before applying right? Yes, but the website didn’t mention all the “miscellaneous fees” that added 35% to the base tuition.
I continued to look for another school. There must be one out there for my son!
Benjamin is turning five years old in October this year (2016) and will be in Kindergarten 2 class (FS2). This poses a challenge due to the fact that the slots are few, especially in schools with fairly affordable fees. If the school has existing Kindergarten 1 students, slots for Kindergarten 2 depends on whether there will be kids who won’t enroll for the next school year. Or if the school decides to expand the number of classes for KG2 (which is less likely).
Long story short, I found another school that opened admissions for KG2. I visited the school and liked what I saw and I also asked around some parents who I know has children there. I paid the assessment fee of AED500 and waited for the schedule of assessment. We went this morning, with high hopes.
After a few assessments on his belt, I am proud to say that Benjamin has gotten the feel of the whole procedure. He was very relaxed amidst the crying children at the reception/waiting area. I am so happy for my boy! He was taken to a room with a teacher and we wait outside. I saw him walking confidently through the corridor, with a stranger holding his hand and he did not mind. I crossed my fingers.
After 30 minutes or so, I was called to see the foundation stage head teacher. Benjamin was seated in front of her desk, just waiting. He was still, with eyes fixed at the globe on top of the cabinet. Benjamin LOVES maps. (I have delayed buying a globe for him. I suddenly felt guilty.)
“Hi, thank you so much. I have to tell you Benjamin is really shy at first…” I started to explain ahead. The head teacher interrupted my nervous banter and answered,
“Oh no, Benjamin was really chatty. He wasn’t shy at all! He was very social!”
I swear I saw rainbows and unicorns when I heard that. I felt my cheeks burning. I envisioned him walking through the colorful school corridors with his favorite Thomas bag. My boy finally found his place!
But my joy was short lived.
“However mama, we have a problem. We have given him a WRITTEN TEST and I’m afraid to tell you he did not do well at all.”
My heart sank. Benjamin was looking around and talking to himself, pointing at the colorful murals this time, counting 1, 2, 3 loudly at the objects on the walls.
The teacher showed me the test paper. He was supposed to write all the letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1-10. There was even a section where they blanked out the letters to test if the child knows what letter comes after a certain letter. He was EXPECTED to have mastered gripping the pencil and writing the letters and numbers perfectly. At four. From the nursery, from home. What were they doing at the nursery?! I was asked.
Although he brings home his worksheets from the nursery with completed tasks, I am very aware that Benjamin still lacks writing skills. His pencil grip is weak and when I ask him to practice at home (which I honestly will admit, I dread having him do “homework” at this age!), he says he is already tired.
Moms with kids at the nursery, tell me: Do kids at your nursery school WRITE a lot? Is that how nurseries should work? I feel so LOST.
“We only have 1 year before he goes to Year 1. There’s not much time. The children in Year 1 will be writing sentences and essays (seriously she said THAT). He will be left out at his rate right now if we accept him as is.”
Seriously, since when did Year 1 students write long sentences. And essays?!
“But we will give you another chance. Practice his writing at home and you can come back in a month. We will give the written test again.”
To be continued.
(Photos posted here are taken at his nursery school and posted at the nursery’s Facebook page.)