Sometime during the 1st week of the June holidays, we visited a 3rd school, W. It went great! The environment was very homely with wooden furniture and toys. The children seemed pretty at ease. The curriculum seemed pretty interesting with many hands-on activities such as water play, sand play, beeswax kneading, gardening, nature walks, cooking/baking and building of own play equipment. Besides these activities, there are also some other quieter activities incorporated such as storytelling and puppet shows, which Lele loves.
After ex'plaining my every question patiently, the person in-charged, Miss Vivian, tended to Lele and even let him play with the outdoor equipments! I had was pleasantly surprised... Lele even had a go at watering the plants with the watering can. He was so thrilled that he was reluctant to leave. He agreed to leave only when we told him that he could visit the school to water the plants again another day.
Seeing Lele so happy and comfortable in this environment made Daniel and I very tempted to enrol him straight away. There are some things keeping us back, though. Below is a summary of good and bad points about the school.
- For $350 a month after working mum sunbsidy (if I find work then...), the food menu is too good to be true. The menu is fully organic with lots of fruits and fresh vegtables as morning snack. Soup at every meal to accomapany a healthy main dish such as brown rice, pumpkin rice. I couldn't find deep-fried foods in the menu, for which I am pleased about. Daniel said that the food is so well-balanced that even an adult will not eat to nutritious food.
-Curriculum is full of goodness like the menu. All the activities looked very enjoyable. I am 100% sure Lele will enjoy most of them. There is also no regular TV time for the children.
-The principal and person-in-charge seem very accomdating unlike the previous 2 schools.
-Children can wear their own clothes except during nature walks. I like that because it feels more homely to be in home clothes rather than uniform all the time.
-Lele's comfort level is the highest here. He was very excited and at ease. He explored around and couldn't keep his hands off the toys. The teachers allowed him to touch, play and mingle with the children too.
-Distance is quite great. We would either have to cater to a school bus, which can chalk up a hefty sum, or I can drive Lele to school to and fro each day, which would mean high petrol costs and also less freedom for me:( especially if I am working then. Distance is the main deterrent for us, actually.
-While the curriculum looked good on paper, Daniel observed that the children did not follow it through. When it was time for storytime, thee children were still all over the place with little indication from the teachers to gather them. Throughout the time we were there, the children seemed mostly doing their own play with not much structure. Most of the fun hands-on stuff (including gardening) were scheduled for afternoon so if Lele were put in for half-day, he would miss the fun and most probably spend the morning doing freeplay mostly...
But am I prepared to send him for fullday so soon?
-Cleanliness is an issue too. After outdoor play in barefeet, the children's feet were only washed hastily with water before they were sent back into the classroom.
-The whole place reeked heavily of insect repellant. Daniel liked the smell but I worry about the moquitoes, and is it safe to use so much repellant. Lele had so much repellant sprayed on him that my clothes smelled strongly of that even though I only carried him a while.
Oh... so many points to consider... bother...