Technically, Darrius is only 3 years plus and will only be 4 years old in approximately 2.5 months time. In our eyes, he is still very young and PiggyBeng has stressed many times that we should always give Darrius his childhood… play and more play and not being bogged down with anything academic. PiggyBeng said that our education system (especially the Chinese stream) is overly academic and children are not being taught to think creatively but rather being stressed to memorize and perform like a machine. Most parents want their kids to score As which really double stressing the little kids and due to that, they lose out on their childhood… What turned out to be is what daddy and mommy wants and not what the kids wanted.
Because of this reason, we tried not to send Darrius to school too soon. As Darrius is our only child (before Lil’ Bun’s arrival that is!), he lack the social and interaction skill since he seldom mix with other kids his age. He spent most of his time playing alone or with us only and thus, made him a very spoilt child… he gets what he wanted all the time. Blame it on me for being too lenient and overly pampered him. Instead of doing a lot of things by himself, he has been getting very lazy and summoned me to do for him… which is something I should not be doing.
Now that Lil’ Bun will make her appearance soon and Darrius will officially turn 5 next year, we thought it is about time he goes to school. Not to achieve anything academically but just to brush up on his social skill and to be more independent. Most importantly – learning to share!
Last Friday, we went around our neighborhood in search of the perfect place – a pre-school for him. There were 3 schools which we visited and each of them has a style of their own.
School No.1 – A kindergarten within a Methodist Church
PiggyBeng used to go to this kindy, so it is highly recommended by PiggyBeng. It is very near to our place and since it is operated by the church (I think so), it should be the right place as I always wanted some religious body being involved in my children’s education.
When we arrived, it was almost 2.30pm so the school has already closed as they only runs the morning session (8.30 am – 11.30am). They have stopped the full day session which reasons were not being given to us by the administrator who attended to us.
As we were chatting, he brought out a whole lot of books (YES!!!! BOOKS!!!) for each session which there are a total of two sessions in a year. I counted and there were at least 9 books which he told me is still not the complete set… holly molly!!!! 5 years old and already have so many books and exercises to be completed???
This school emphasized more on Mandarin, which is something both PiggyBeng and myself are looking forward to as we already decided to put Darrius in Chinese medium school when he goes to primary school later on. However, we did not get to see much ‘action’ since classes already ended for that day but the administrator told us to return on another day so we can inspect how classes are being conducted… which I will be doing next week.
This school requires their students to wear uniform.
Fee = RM100/month (not inclusive of all the other charges)
Phonics = RM80/term
School No. 2 – Montessori
The second school we visited was a certified Montessori school which is also very near to our place. This school is highly recommended by 2 mommies I knew (you know who you are!). However, I knew it won’t come cheap and I was right. Children are being grouped up to about 9 person maximum with one teacher in every subject. Therefore, each child will get at least a longer one-to-one time with each teacher.
They have 3 sessions. Students can choose either the morning session (8.30 am – 11.30 am), afternoon session (12 noon – 3 pm) or full day (8.30 am – 5 pm). Mandarin class (1 hour every day) is optional which is only available to students from the age of 5 to 6. Everything else will be conducted in English as there are a mix of teachers of different races… which is something I really like… at least Darrius will have no problem conversing.
Phonics is already part of their curriculum so there will not be any additional charges. There will also be one snack time of 15 minutes where light snack will be provided. Darrius likes this place very much as it has a slide and a sand box outside the school! (Darrius always thought that going to school means going to the playground!)
Like most Montessori teaching, a lot of teaching aids are being used… toys and apparatus. I’m not sure if this is really good? PiggyBeng felt that by using all these aids, they are more suitable for ‘slow learning’ children instead of normal children… correct me if I’m wrong!!!!
Unlike the first school we went, there will be no books given but rather each student will get different work sheets every day which are to be completed during the session. The best thing is, they don’t require their students to wear uniform.
Fee = RM330/month for 3 hours session (not inclusive of other MISC charges)
Mandarin class = RM152/month
School No. 3 – A Childcare chain
The last school we visited for the day is more like a childcare to us than a pre-school. The outside of this school looks pretty nice with large compound (it is a 2 single storey link house joint together like those manufactured home) but what we saw inside is not so pleasing to the eyes. They only use 1.5 of the 2 houses as classrooms and the other 0.5 is actually a conference room! The classrooms turned me off slightly as they are quite dim and dirty looking.
According to the lady whom attended to us, there are 3 different sessions, morning session, half day care or full day care. English will be the main medium used but from the way she speak, her English is worst than mine! Ok, ok, she is only a young girl and appeared more like a sales person rather than a teacher. She even used a file to do introduction of their services which looked very commercialized… too business like and $$$ sucking! 😛 Well, I am right about that judgement as their charges is almost like the Montessori one but quality wise… far below our expectation!
One of the thing they emphasized is their Computer lessons. This may sound cool but I do not wish to have Darrius learning to use the computer too soon (else he will fight with us for the PC and give us excuses like… ‘I want to do homework’ way before it’s time!) I know I am being old-fashion but kindy is hardly the place for children to learn about computers! I don’t mind if it is only a once a week or optional kinda thing but to have it every day is definitely a BIG NO!
I managed to get hold of some of their magazines (yes, they have their own magazines!!!) and after flipping through and finding all the spelling errors, my expectation dipped further down! They don’t even proof read all the BIG prints! I don’t have very good impression over chain type of operation… they usually too commercialized and lack the quality.
The lady told us that there will be other extra activities being included besides the normal programme (thus for the high charges). They even help parents to organize birthday parties at their homes… (is that a job for teachers/school???) She did not show us the books or materials being used but by looking at the charges (RM360/year) I guess there will be lots of books! I think my SPM reference books also don’t cost that much! And before I forget, they said those 5 and 6 years old will have to take exams too! Yikes!!!! (PiggyBeng freaked out upon hearing that!)
Since this place is a chain type of childcare, we gathered their expertise is not what we are looking for or not so suitable for Darrius. And for paying so much… we rather send Darrius to else where with better facilities.
This school requires their student to wear uniform and no mention of learning Phonics.
Fee = RM250/month x 12 (not inclusive of other MISC charges)
Well, we hope to visit a few more schools which are further away next week or the coming weeks before we decide. Our only concern is the early morning traffic which is really terrible around our area and having to lug Lil’ Bun along next year to send Darrius to school is something I really need to think about.
Wish us luck!!!