June 6, 2011, Monday was a very busy day in our home. I slept really late the night before; I prepared stuff my kids would need in school and woke up very early to prepare breakfast and packed snacks. Yes, it's back to school mode for our little ones and also for mommies and daddies. Each room in the house was a funny sight, Daddy was in the bedroom trying to steal Ian from his still very deep sleep. I was in the kitchen with Allen asking him to finish his breakfast, while I was preparing to leave for work.
I enrolled my kids in a public school where my brother and I spent our preschool and elementary education. The name of the school is Project 3 Elementary School; it is located at Molave street, Project 3, Quezon City . Allen is in the Kindergarten class and Ian is an incoming Grade 1. After the flag ceremony they headed to their classrooms, they have to squeeze their way into the huge crowd of students and parents. Public schools really have a bigger number of students in each class as compared to private schools. Many take advantage of the fact that there won't be expensive tuition and miscellanous fees to be paid. Allen went straight to his room excited to start his day. He approached each child crying infront of their parents begging them not to leave, he had this confused look on his face as if he wanted to ask those kids what's wrong. My husband never heard Allen whined or cried, he even saw him waved at him as if telling him that he should leave (parents are not allowed to stay in the classroom).Allen was a stand out among those bunch of kids, he sang and danced really well and surprised everybody and made lots of heads turn when he read and spelled words he saw on the blackboard. He named each picture he saw and sorted out different objects and wrote lots of words quickly with his amazing tiny hands. It was hot in the classroom and it worried us, Allen was so tired when he went out of the classroom but there's no doubt that he had fun.
Ian's first day of school was a different case. Ian can't speak as clearly as the other kids his age because of his delayed speech (that was diagnosed when he was 3 years old). But he is really eager to learn and interact with other children. During his nursery class last school year he was very liked by his teachers and classmates. He readily participated in each lesson his teachers taught him. Ian got accepted for Grade 1 in the public school though I told his new teachers that he can't speak some words very clearly and is not yet fast in writing and I was suppose to enroll him also in Kindergarten class. They said it was okay and they will guide the child and said that he is already 6 years old and has to be in Grade 1. I thought things would turn out okay as what those Grade 1 teachers said. But that first day of school made my heart sank. The teacher asked the boys to line up to go to the bathroom. She just gave them the instruction where the bathroom is and did not accompany them. Ian was the last in line, when it was already his turn four of his classmates played tricks on him while he was peeing and imitated the way he talks. Ian run and told those kids to stop, instead they run after him played with his things and grabbed his snacks. The teacher kept on leaving the classroom full of, I guess 50 students. Though was told not to enter the classroom, Ian's nanny came and helped Ian. She fixed his things and made him stop to cry. She tried her best to look for the rest of Ian's things but Ian said the bad kids got them. Where was the teacher when those awful things happened? I was deeply worried for my elder son, what if he got locked in the bathroom or slipped and fell.
After knowing everything that happened I did not waste time to talk to the teacher nor find the parents of those four disrespectful boys. I told myself I won't let that happen again. I called Hands of Children School at Narra Street, Project 3, Quezon City (the school where Ian attended nursery) and told my story. He will be starting his classes in Hands... next week in the Kindergarten program of the school and when I told him his face looked excited and hopeful. The experience thought me these very important things:
- The age of the child should not solely determine the class in which he should be enrolled in. The child's readiness should be top priority in choosing the educational program that he will go through.
- Listen to your child and not other teachers or mommies with "know all" attitudes. I made a mistake of having that teacher influence my decision. I am also guilty of always consulting the wrong person telling me that Ian should be in a class ahead of Allen's because he is older "kuya siya e".
- Allow the child to enjoy his childhood and not rush him into things that he is not yet ready to face. Accept him for his accomplishments and join him in making those small steps.
- As a parent do not consider everybody else's advice choose only those that come from persons who really understands the situation.
I would like to thank Hands of Children School, teacher Kina, teacher Malou, teacher Fil, teacher Malen, teacher Cristie and the rest of the staff for their continuous support. They have shown genuine love for their work and for all of the children that crossed their paths. This school (Hands...) saved us during that "dark" moment. I don't have anything against public schools despite what happened, in fact Allen is doing well in his class. Ian was just not ready and is not comfortable with that kind of environment. For all parents out there, I hope you learned from our story, let us grow and learn together with our children.